8 Reasons Windows Users DO Switch to Mac

by Steven Leigh Oct 09, 2007

If you made it through my first article, entitled “8 Reasons Windows Users Don’t Switch,” you may be a little annoyed with me by now. I admit the article certainly had a negative tone, and that was the focus. But now, we can focus on what IS working to get Windows users to switch to Mac.

As I mentioned before, I am a new “switcher,” having been a Windows user all my computing life, and had very negative opinions of the Mac. Experiences with earlier models (pre-OS X) had given me a very bad impression, and I had not tried a Mac in many years. The good news is that if Apple and its fans converted me, they can likely convert anyone. So without further ado, let’s get to the reasons Windows users are switching.

1. iPod/iPhone
The statistics tell us that the majority of iPod users are Windows users, and with 90% market share for Windows, this isn’t surprising. There is often mention of the “halo effect” of the iPod, and I used to scoff at the idea, but now I think there is a lot of truth to it. I bought an iPod over a year ago because it was the best music player out there. At the time, I didn’t want to use iTunes because I didn’t like it, and I tried numerous other options until I came to the conclusion that nothing integrates as well with the iPod as iTunes. I reluctantly gave in to iTunes and started using it full time. After a while, I started to get used to the way it worked. In fact, I started to LOVE the way it worked. I started to wonder why more programs didn’t work this way. It took me a while to realize that most programs on a Mac do work this way, and by that point, there was no turning back, it was inevitable. Now that the tech world is going nuts over the iPhone, we can only expect more and more Windows users to come to the same conclusion I did.

2. Apple Stores
I started visiting the Apple store in my city looking for iPod accessories. I didn’t like Apple, and I didn’t like Macs, but I was already in the mall, so why not go look around, right? Of course, occasional visits turned into frequent visits, and before long I was in the store to check my email, do some web surfing, or just kill time while my wife was shopping. Even though I was resisting it, I was impressed by how fast and easy to use the Macs were. The stores are extremely inviting, and the employees seem to strike that perfect balance between giving you your space and helping when needed. When combined with the support, the classes, and even the children’s activities, it’s hard not to be won over by these wonderful stores, even if you start out as a cranky Windows know-it-all like I did.

3. The Ads
I know, I complained about the “Get A Mac” ads in my other article, and I still think some of the ads have a negative effect on savvy Windows users. But most of the ads are very well done, and extol the virtues of the Mac experience perfectly. John Hodgman (the PC guy) is such a talented actor that he manages to be lovable while at the same time a little creepy, making you want to disassociate yourself with him. Even though I complained about these ads, they played a major part in my switch to Macs. At one point, I remember watching all of them back to back on the Apple site, and by the end, I was having a hard time remembering why I loved Windows so much. These aren’t the only ads that work, of course. Apple has always had a lot of style, and that style extends to their advertising campaigns. No one can create that feeling of “gear lust” the way Apple can.

4. Mac Users
Yes, Mac users appear on both my lists. While some Mac users drive Windows users away in droves with their zealotry, the smart ones are slowly and quietly converting their family, their friends, and everyone they meet to Macs. There is no magical formula but what works best is leading by example. Don’t ramble on and on to someone about how great iLife is, write them a song in Garageband, or print a photobook for them as a gift. Don’t criticize their choice of Windows, but instead show them how much quicker and easier you can accomplish the same tasks they do every day. As I stated before, one of my big reasons for switching is that I got to play with a friend’s Macbook quietly on my own, while he patiently answered any questions I asked. This is often the experience at an Apple store as well. If you have questions, they get answered, and if you would rather explore on your own, they don’t push.

5. Macbooks and Macbook Pros
Statistics are showing that Macs comprise about 5% of the overall computer market share, while they comprise about 17% of laptos sold. Why, you may ask? I mentioned in my previous article that the inability to upgrade Macs is often an issue with Windows users, but with laptops, we have a unique situation. When replacing a laptop there are no parts to re-use, and even Windows users are forced to buy a whole new system. In addition, Macbooks and Macbook Pros are very competitively priced right now, and in many cases, are cheaper than a similarly equipped PC laptop. Combined with the fact that Macs can now run Windows, there is almost no reason NOT to buy a Macbook or Macbook Pro if you’re in the market for a laptop. After all, you get the best of both worlds. You get one of the best-looking, best-performing laptops in the marketplace, with the ability to run virtually any operating system you wish (including Linux). You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

6. Vista
I said last time that Windows Vista is the best operating system Microsoft has ever developed, and it’s true—almost.  It has a great interface, fixes many major problems that have been around for years, and is generally a great upgrade. BUT when you factor in the viruses, the spyware, the fact that Microsoft wants to control everything you do, limited hardware support, and lack of (useful) bundled software, Vista doesn’t look so spiffy.  Even though I like it a lot, there is no question that Vista is a total flop, and though I would have liked to use it, the compatibility issues are still numerous, and drivers are not showing up. I get the impression that many users were waiting to see what Vista would be like before they decided to switch. Once they saw it was more of the same, there was a big surge in Mac sales. Even those who liked Vista initially have had to admit that it’s not going to be usable anytime soon. (Stay tuned, I plan to write a thorough rundown of why I believe Vista failed in a future column.)

7. Design
I don’t have to tell anyone how great Apple’s designs are. Macbooks and Macbook Pros are a thing of beauty. iMacs are now better looking than ever. Even the new iPod Nano, which looked stubby and ugly in early photos, turned out to be much better than anyone anticipated. Apple not only knows how to design their products, they know how to sell you on the design. When you walk into an Apple store, you don’t see a bunch of beige and black computers stacked tightly next to each other. You see a spacious, open layout with some slick-looking computers inviting you to play around. The television ads are no different. They highlight the products themselves as much the software they run. I think Windows users are starting to realize that good design in hardware and software is worthwhile, and we’re setting aside our beige boxes for something a little more elegant.

8. Security
Macs don’t get viruses. Now don’t misquote me. I didn’t say Macs CAN’T get viruses, but so far, they just don’t. I always love the looks I get when I say this to a Windows user who knows nothing about Macs. Their eyes glaze over as they imagine something unimaginable. Viruses, spyware, and all the other junk are such a way of life for Windows users that they assume it’s just the nature of computers. This may change in the future as Macs gain more market share, making them more of a target for viruses and spyware, but for now, there is no need to run any additional security software on a Mac, and that’s just a good feeling.

Apple is doing a fantastic job of showing off its products and creating a welcoming community to draw in new Mac users. I can only see continued growth for Macs in the future. If Apple and its users can manage to draw a die-hard Windows user like myself out of his comfort zone, they have really accomplished something, and I have to say that I’m so glad they did. While there are always things that could be changed, I have to reiterate the fact that a Mac running OS X is the best computing system in the world right now, and I hope that Windows users give Macs an unbiased chance to show them what they’ve been missing.


  • What Apple NEEDS to do now…

    Apple has come a long way in the last 7 years - and today no one in their right mind would question the survival of Apple.

    But Apple and Steve Jobs still need to change their mentality, otherwise, they might still be in trouble some day in the future. Might be very hard to conceive at this point in time…

    Apple positions the Mac as a computer for the higher end of computing - and intentionally ignores the mass computer market - where margins and prices are low. Their attempt at a cheap computer begins and ends with the Mac Mini - and while the Mac Mini might be an interesting computer for some purposes, it is not really a cheap computer.

    Today Apple has the edge over Microsoft, because they have a great OS, and a suite of products like the iPod, the iPhone, AppleTV, etc. for which Microsoft has no adequate response. Even their high priced peripherals are tolerated because of fabulous design and usability.

    But if Apple does not use this opportunity to take significant market share in the computer market, they run the risk that some years into the future, MS gets its act right, and again becomes a potent force in the high end of the market as well. Vista is almost there - the gap between Mac OS and Windows is not as large as it was earlier. Leopard would widen the gap again, I guess, but still Apple should not rest.

    What should Apple do then -

    For one, stop acting too pricey - Apple should recognize that there is more money to be made if they have a greater marketshare. Makes it easier to win converts, as well as gives them huge leverage in buying components etc. Also makes it attractive for third party developers to develop applications targetting the Mac. I dont mean they go down the Dell route and commoditize the computer - they can still keep it a closed system, which you can buy only from Apple, but Apple should sell a much wider variety of computers, in a wider price/performance range. Dont ignore the low end - that is where the mass market is.

    Dont look for obscene profit margins - What Apple has done with the iPhone pricing model is likely to make the most hard core of Apple fans wince. You have the greatest product in the mobile space, the best possible publicity at and before launch. The best possible situation a company can hope for. And what did Apple do - converted what could be a mind boggling success into a PR disaster. It is very obvious Apple tried to milk the market for what the market would bear - and realized the market would not survive, so reduced prices. Even at these lower prices, Apple is still trying to milk the market way too much - with the monthly profit share that AT&T has to shell out. This monthly profit share that AT&T is shelling out, has significant costs to Apple - this is the reason why Apple could not embed iChat into the phone, or support VoIP (if Apple did not want these monthly payments, they could have release iPhone unlocked, and usable in any network - each network can choose to work with Apple to give better service to customers with Visual Voice Mail - and they would have chosen to work with Apple, just so that they would not miss out - Apple could have released a MUCH more powerful phone, and got many more customers if they werent so greedy). And Apple cant blame AT&T this time - AT&T does not profit share with ANY other manufacturer.

    Several design and usability decisions at Apple are made with very rigid rules. Apple makes the choices for the customer, and the customer has to live with those choices. For some things this is fine - but this is extended to way too many things. Might be good to have some flexibility. Let the main stream users use Apple’s choices, and let the more geeky types customize things to their fancy.

    While Apple has always been a company that cared about its customers, this has always been conditional - we care about customers, but only if they are not too price-sensitive. If the customer is too price conscious, then we would rather not have that customer. We will give a great product, but you have to pay an arm and a leg for it. This approach might work if Apple just wants to be a high end niche in the market, but we have all seen how dangerous that approach can be to the survival of the company. Apple needs to take a leaf from Amazon’s book - Amazon does what is best for the customer period, even if it is not in the immediate best interests of Amazon. They offer products from sellers who compete against Amazon at lower prices, on the same Product Page. They warn you if you are about to buy the same CD/book again - so that you dont buy it by mistake. They allow you to read huge swathes of books you are looking to buy, even recipes from recipe books, even if you dont ultimately buy the book at the end. All this is in enlightened self interest. That if you care for the customer, in the long run, it will benefit you. Apple goes only half way in this - might be worth trying to go all the way.

    At the end of the day - Apple will get a higher market share only if Apple WANTS a higher market share, and is willing to change its style of operation to get a higher marketshare. Today, the game is Apple’s to win, if they want it. But if Apple sits on a high horse, and ignores the low end of the market, and tries to extract maximum profits from all their products, they might still lose it.

    macarena had this to say on Oct 10, 2007 Posts: 1
  • “Apple’s hardware is so closed that you can’t change the batteries yourself in an iPod or change the memory, video card, or hard drive.”

    This is true when it comes to the iMac and Mac Mini. Laptops are irrelivant since windows laptops are in the same boat. HOWEVER, when it comes to the Mac Pro, you are downright wrong. I recently purchased a Mac Pro for the very reason of expandability. I can upgrade my RAM to 16GB, Hard drive space to 3TB and add up to four (4) video card, supporting up to eight (8) monitors. You might be saying “yeah, but the Mac Pro starts at $2500 dollars and I can get a windows computer for much less”. Yes, this is true, however, when compared to the same level windows computer (A power house), you actually pay less for the mac; more bag for your buck?

    Also, I believe that it’s HP who have started to offer an all-in-one system for their customers also? Oh yeah, Apple has been doing this for years now.

    I converted 1 year ago from windows. I have been a Microsoft user and staunch advocate of Microsoft since the early DOS days. I can say unequivocally, that my experience with Macs has been one of the most enjoyable experiences. Even at max hard drive capacity, my machine keeps on ticking, whereas my previous windows computers choked up and became unusable until I freed up some drive space. I could go on forever about the flaws with windows, but there are some good things about windows also.

    People and friends ask me questions all the time about computers, maybe its because I’ve spent the last 25 years of my life working with them, maybe its because I have a degree in engineering, or maybe its the fact that I am a certified MSCE. Either way, all that doesn’t matter. I look for the most smooth, user friendly, and intuitive system that I can get, and from my experience, Macs are just what the doctor ordered.

    I’ve been converting people along the way, but not by ranting and slamming windows. I’ve been converting them by letting use my MacBook Pro, or by simply showing them how easy it is to create a table and pie chart in Numbers. I try to give the pros and cons to both sides (Ie. Windows offers a HUGE variety of software), and some of the cons (Safari doesn’t support ActiveX). By trying to remain objective even though I want to rave about how wonderful OS X is, it is that objectivity that wins people over.

    CanadianJeepGuy had this to say on Oct 11, 2007 Posts: 2
  • To mention the pros: Safari doesn’t support ActiveX raspberry

    By trying to remain objective even though I want to rave about how wonderful OS X is, it is that objectivity that wins people over.

    I very rarely advocate Mac switching out loud out in the real world without being highly tentative. However, people occasionally take an interest when they see you using a mac. I show them things like Exposé, then fun things like fast user switching and vaguely how the Dock works. Then the best thing of all: immediate, natural sleeping & waking for notebooks. Compatibility with MS Office documents.

    The bare facts really. Mostly people are surprised that the Mac isn’t actively hostile to their existing computing paradigm.

    Above the basic equivalence of Macs, usability-wise, with previewing a few useful and snazzy benefits, the looks of the machines sell themselves.

    You can help but want one :D

    After the Leopard Generation, these sorts demos might take a turn for the altogether more shocking—in a good way.

    Benji had this to say on Oct 11, 2007 Posts: 927
  • *can’t help but want one

    Benji had this to say on Oct 11, 2007 Posts: 927
  • Reason #9 - Boredom. I switched a little over a year ago. As I Windows user I’d upgrade my system every two years or so, new CPU, new video card, etc. With Vista on the horizon, I should have been excited about building a new system. But as the songs say’s “The thrill is gone”. Nothing about Vista excited me. Reading page after page of HardOCP, Anandtech, etc; deciphering every little difference between Intel’s latest, or AMD’s; viewing countless benchmarks on ATi or nVidia. It had all lost meaning.

    Apple represented something fresh. I didn’t see OSX as necessarily better then Widows, but for me it would be a Brave New World of computing. Firing up my Mac for the first time I felt the same thrill a had when I fired up my first 386/Win 3.1 all those years ago.

    hiroProtagonist had this to say on Oct 11, 2007 Posts: 2
  • I switched about nine months ago. It took me over a year to make my decision. As a web and graphic designer, my livelihood is dependent on Adobe software. Once CS3 with native Intel support was announced, I took the plunge and bought a MacBook in anticipation of that release.

    I still have a PC for my day-to-day machine, but the MacBook is always running on my desk, and I have become totally dependent (and in love with) iCal, Mail, and several really wonderful 3rd-party Mac apps.

    As soon as finances permit, the PC will go bye-bye and a new iMac will grace my desk.

    I will never look back.

    If you still doubt, take my advice: get a Mac, use it for a month, and then decide.

    Adrienne Adams had this to say on Oct 11, 2007 Posts: 6
  • “This is true when it comes to the iMac and Mac Mini. Laptops are irrelivant since windows laptops are in the same boat. HOWEVER, when it comes to the Mac Pro, you are downright wrong.”

    Stop right there. Besides the iMac and Mac Mini, you quickly brushed over laptops.

    My PC laptop is quite configurable. I can change the memory cards and the hard drive. I already upgraded the memory of my Compaq laptop computer. I may upgrade my hard drive myself soon. What about the Mac laptops?

    Then there is the Mac Pro. Give me a break.  I already know all about it, but I did not mention it because it is frankly a niche product, hench the term “pro”. Apple decided to segment the product away from most computer users. The price point doesn’t help either.

    As for the HP ALL-IN-ONE, they are niche products. I’m sure the few that will buy it will enjoy them, but this shows the complete lack of choice of Apple’s offerings up and down the line.

    Apple…THINK THE SAME. They think you want the same thing. Want to spend under $1,000? Buy this. Want to spend between $1,000 to $2,000? Buy this. Want to spend over $2,000? Buy this.

    No, I don’t.

    Be objective. You have failed thus far.

    TechGuy2 had this to say on Oct 11, 2007 Posts: 12
  • My PC laptop is quite configurable. I can change the memory cards and the hard drive. I already upgraded the memory of my Compaq laptop computer. I may upgrade my hard drive myself soon. What about the Mac laptops?

    On this laptop upgradability thing, the fact is that if your PC laptop offers easy upgrades beyond memory, it is very unusual. Some of course have a pull-out HD module thing. But no-one will dispute that the proportion of laptops ever to have a significant non-memory upgrade (HD, optical drive, processor) is minute.

    Personally I am going to replace the HD in my Powerbook and swap in a Superdrive in a couple of months when I go Leopard. That doesn’t earn it the label “upgradable”.

    I agree with you that a Mac Not-So-Mini, Ars Technica’s “xMac”, would be a v interesting proposition for a lot of people. It would need to be easily configurable from its product page on the Apple Store. Those configurable options would also have to be price competitive—a major break with tradition for Apple. It would have to support a wider variety of retail graphics cards.

    I’d be really interested to know how good the Mac Pro’s support is for standard retail graphics chips. Anyone have any experience?

    Benji had this to say on Oct 12, 2007 Posts: 927
  • “My PC laptop is quite configurable. I can change the memory cards and the hard drive. I already upgraded the memory of my Compaq laptop computer. I may upgrade my hard drive myself soon. What about the Mac laptops?”

    Both the Macbook and Macbook Pro are easy to add more memory to.  It’s also very easy to change the hard drive in the MacBook. The Pro is a little more involved, but certainly not beyond an average techie.

    Dan Ebeck had this to say on Oct 12, 2007 Posts: 23
  • I switched to a Mac because of Final Cut Pro.  While that particular program is not that common in the wider world, I’d say that more general “software needs” could be included on the list.  Some people claim to switch because of iLife, for example.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 13, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • I switched after 20 years working in the product development group of a Windows PC manufacturer. Why did I switch? I had a relatively short list of things I wanted to do with my computer and Apple provided a product that did virtually all of them right out of the box. For me it was less a comment on the hardware but more on the total package….hardware AND software. I think we folks who congregate on these gadget sites sometimes forget that we are a minority in the general population. Most folks don’t care to tinker with their machines. When we designed PCs at the company I worked at expandability was an important marketing feature, but it was a feature that a small number of people actually used after the initial sale.

    rgreen had this to say on Oct 13, 2007 Posts: 2
  • I went from Windows XP to Windows Vista not long ago. My doctors tell me I will have the straight jacket removed and no longer need to live in a rubber room once I stop trying to kill myself thanks to UAC on Vista. Apparently the endless barrage of prompts causes total and complete madness.

    HRPuffnstuff @ The insane asylum

    hrpuffnstuff had this to say on Oct 15, 2007 Posts: 2
  • After 15 years with Microsoft, crashing twice a day, I decided to go Mac. There is a very simple difference between the two operating systems in my opinion. Mac is like having a computer on training wheels. Microsoft is for grown ups. The real difference is in the hardware. The apple hardware is fantastic while Microsoft allows every cheap sweatshop to build computers using their software. That is the only real problem with Microsoft, they should build their own computers. While Vista has taken Microsoft back a few years, I am sure they will fix the problems in a year or two from now, and I am afraid to tell you this, but Microsoft is just a better way to work, no matter what anyone says. It is more versatile, you stay in control and you can do things that Apple havn’t thought of yet. As for the Iphone, typical of Apple. Locked to networks, must control everything, no 3G, no multiple sms, no mms, no copy, paste, cut or multiple file delete. Here again, the Microsoft mobile platform is without doubt the finest cellphone software available. Anyone who has tried it will never use another platform. It is the easiest setup to sync with your desktop available and makes Blackberry redundant. But again, Iphone has the best hardware, the interface is fantastic. Just wish they had gone with the right software. Now that I can get boot camp for my Mac so that I can run the real thing, perhaps they will come out with bootcamp for the Iphone.

    dux had this to say on Dec 29, 2007 Posts: 1
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