8 Reasons Windows Users Don’t Switch

by Steven Leigh Oct 02, 2007

Let me say it right off the bat: Macs running OS X give the best computing experience on the planet. It’s not that Macs are perfect, but compared to everything else, there is nothing like the Mac experience. With that in mind, it’s difficult for many Mac users to comprehend why there are so many Windows users suffering needlessly by running a Windows system. That’s where I come in.

I have been a die-hard Windows user since I started computing. If you had told me I would switch to Mac at any point in the future, I would have laughed at you. There was nothing that could ever make me switch! Well, that didn’t exactly last forever, but as a recent Mac “switcher,” I have a unique perspective on both worlds. Experienced Mac users may not have the perspective that it takes to see what makes Windows users stay with Microsoft, and let’s face it, some Mac users (not you or me, of course) are just downright zealots who think that anyone using Windows should be cast into the fiery pits of Mount Doom and forgotten for all eternity. (Nerd alert!)

So allow me to take an objective look at what keeps some Windows users from switching, from the perspective of someone who has resisted switching to Mac for a long time and was looking for any excuse to stay with Windows. And once you’ve read this article, check out 8 Reasons Windows Users Do Switch to Mac to learn what is working.

1. Ignorance
Ignorance is merely a lack of knowledge, and when it comes to Macs, most Windows users, myself included, are extremely uninformed. My experiences with Macs were mostly pre-OS X, before the really good stuff began to happen, and I made a decision that Macs were not for me and never looked back. Many Windows users think they’ll have to “re-learn everything” and that nothing will be familiar. While this is partly true, Macs are so much easier to use; many beginners find it easier to do most tasks intuitively, without having to be taught or open a manual. As someone who has spent long hours teaching family and friends how to do simple tasks like email attachments, I can you tell that the same cannot be said about Windows.

2. The Office
No, I’m not blaming Steve Carell, I’m talking about where you work. Most office environments run Windows, period. While this is beginning to change, the reality is that the majority of people are using Windows at the office. If you need to bring your work home and get things done, it makes sense that you should run Windows at home, right? Not really, but the average Windows user doesn’t know about Office for Macs, or that their files will still be compatible. They don’t realize how easy it is to work across both platforms, or that they can even run Windows on their Mac when all else fails. Even if they do know these things, they figure that it will be more difficult to work on two platforms than it is worth.  Apple is doing a great job lately of educating people on these misunderstandings, but it is still the prevailing thought among Windows users. Even if the Mac doesn’t get a strong hold on the business market, it’s important that people know they’re capable of it.

3. Hardware
I have always been a bit of a hardware geek, and used to enjoy building my own machines. Every few years, I would upgrade the motherboard and processor, and re-use the case, the hard drives, and power supply, and could make a significant upgrade for $400-500. I can never do this with a Mac. Hardware geeks are hard to convince for this very reason, and even average Windows users may scoff at something like an iMac because they don’t want to pay for a new monitor every time they upgrade their computer. Mac Minis are popular with Windows switchers because they can use their current monitor, mouse, and keyboard and not have them bundled as with an iMac. This is becoming less of an issue as the price of Macs have come down considerably, and technology moves so fast nowadays, you’ll likely to want to upgrade almost every component every few years anyway. As a former system-builder, I’m now at a point in my life where I would rather pay a little extra for a system that works right out of the box and has great support than save a few hundred dollars at the cost of countless hours of being my own tech support.

4. Price
The perception by Windows users is that Macs are more expensive than Windows PCs. This may have been true in the past, but the new Macs are very comparably priced to similarly equipped PCs. Unfortunately, the perception remains. Budget PCs may undercut Mac prices, but budget PCs sacrifice quality parts and support. Apple has shown that they are not interested in competing in the budget computer market, and it’s a smart move, as the margins in this area are extremely small. Windows users should consider what they’re getting for the extra money. Apple’s support is top-notch, the included software, such as iLife, is stellar, and the quality and design of the machines is always first-class.

5. Lies
Let’s face it: Apple tends to bend the truth once in a while, especially about Microsoft and Windows. One of the “Get a Mac” ads states that Windows is for spreadsheets and pie-charts, while Macs are for “fun stuff” like photos, movies, etc. To Mac users, this seems both funny and true. Windows users, however, are thinking of the aisles and aisles of games that are available for Windows, while there is a half-shelf devoted to games for the Mac. I don’t know about you, but I can only have so much fun playing with photos. Things like this just sound like lies, and they sometimes present Apple as a company that has to lie about its competitors to get business. Other ads point out flaws in Windows that are so true it hurts, especially letting people know that Macs don’t get viruses, or that Macs include a lot more useful software and less bloat than Windows. Don’t get me wrong, I take the commercials as a light-hearted jab, as they are intended, but some of them bend the truth so much that it creates mistrust.

6. Windows Bashing
Apple and Steve Jobs are constantly making jabs at Vista and Microsoft, and Mac users follow suit. That’s understandable, but when Steve Jobs is constantly berating Vista and Microsoft instead of touting the features and advantages of Apple’s own products, it makes Windows users think that Macs don’t have much going for them. I remember watching the 20 or 30 minute Vista-bashing session at the WWDC conference and wondering why Steve Jobs is so insecure that he has to berate the opposition. Can you imagine shopping for a car and having the salesman only talk about what’s wrong with the competition’s cars? This always reminds me of John Kerry, whose entire campaign was about bashing Bush instead of telling you why he was a good candidate himself. It didn’t work for him either. Apple, your products are the best in the industry. Act like it.

7. Vista
I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret, but you need to sit down first. Windows Vista is actually a good operating system! There. I said it. The ugly truth is that Vista is the best operating system Microsoft has ever released, and for many users, it is good enough. That’s right, good enough. I really like Vista. It fixes so many of the little issues that have plagued me for years, and if I had to use Windows, it’s the version I would use. But now that I have spent time with OS X, I could never go back. For Windows users who have never touched OS X, or are resisting Macs for any of the reasons listed here, Vista is the best operating system they have ever used. I know, I pity them too, but all we can do is hope that they see the light eventually.

8. Mac Users
Okay, I’m not talking about you or me here, but there are some Mac users out there who have just a little too much love for Apple. When they are shouting (or typing in all caps) about how much better Macs are, they’re not convincing anyone to switch, they are scaring them away. Even well-intentioned Mac users can sometimes get a little carried away. I’ve had many friends lecture me for hours on end that I was stupid not to switch, and all it did was push me further away. In contrast, when I got a chance to sit down and quietly use a Mac, I began to enjoy the experience, and luckily, a friend was smart enough to answer my questions and just let me play for a while, and it made all the difference.

Apple is doing so much right these days. I am sometimes awestruck by their constant stream of good decisions, but there are still so many Windows users unwilling to take the bait. I think it helps to know what we’re up against when we’re trying to convince Windows users to join the Mac side, and I hope I have provided some insight.

Did I miss some reasons? I’d love to read them in the comments.


  • Upgrading and Price

    Here’s the thing about price and the ability to upgrade: Apple computers have spectacular resale. The community of users is growing every day, and the warranty transfers with the computer (always buy AppleCare).

    I just upgraded my iMac by 3 generations for $400.  I can usually upgrade my iPods for less than $100 after selling the old one on eBay.  That’s the easiest way to get a faster computer with more drive space!

    Sometimes you luck out and they discontinue a product you own…at that point the used price jumps above original retail.  Check out the old iSight cameras and iPod Hi Fi speakers on eBay.


    Just a quick note on their service…  I sold and old iMac to a neighbor who started having major issues with it.  She brought it to the Apple store 6 times, because they couldn’t get it to work.  On the last trip, they handed her a brand new, 20” iMac to her amazement.

    TheLuckyOne had this to say on Oct 04, 2007 Posts: 1
  • Hey great analysis. I recently switched. Here are some of my impressions.
    About lies: I got a new imac. One of the ads portrayed a Dell with a bunch of messy cables and an imac with two cables, the power cord and the keyboard. Well I must say this is the most deceiving piece of advertisement I have seen. When I had my Dell all those cables were hidden with the cpu. Now all those cables are on my desktop. 3 + 2 Usb ports seems very little these days. My setup: One usb printer, one SD card reader, One usb HD, One usb keyboard (I had not had a wired keyboard in so many years(SIC!)), a wireless mouse (uses one usb port), an iphone…
    I really like the mac experience but miss using the keyboard as I could in windows (I do use quicksilver and it is great but controlling menus and dialog boxes with the keyboard is definitely something I miss).

    federico had this to say on Oct 04, 2007 Posts: 1
  • Install Vista onto a 4 year old machine and try to use all the new cool UI features -> BRRRR… won’t work. No Aero support. Compare speed? Noticeably slower.

    That’s funny, since my desktop PC is roughly five years old, and runs Vista just fine with all of the new cool UI features enabled, and is roughly as fast as my one-generation-old Mac Mini.

    SterlingNorth had this to say on Oct 04, 2007 Posts: 121
  • I agree wholeheartedly with the 8 reasons, and most of the other junk that has been posted sofar outlining why you would leave ms and vista for something more stable, cheaper, and better.

    But why pay for it? if ur going to switch, switch to linux.

    mrbaron had this to say on Oct 04, 2007 Posts: 1
  • I am sure that Windows and the world of PC has its strengths, I just have not been able to find any.  I owned a Dell and an HP computer during the mid to late 90s because I was trying to economize. 
    Currently I have a Windows computer at work, running XP, and I use a 3 year old PowerBook, a pre-Intel iMac, and PowerMac at home, running OS X Tiger.
    Work is extremely frustrating for me because our CM system does not work consistently or effectively, we crash frequently, and day-to-day tasks do not seem to run, consistently or otherwise.  At least ten times a day, I curse Microsoft and wish for my Mac.  I try not to curse Bill Gates himself, because, after all, he is quite a philanthropist, and I need to remember that.  Whether or not I agree with other things, he does support programs which need supporting, in my opinion.

    I use my Mac to work from home, through our work systems using Remote Desktop, and I have no difficulties (except when our server crashes).  In contrast, most employees of my company are unable to use certain functions consistently, and often have crashes and are intermittently unable to complete certain tasks.

    I also have had several iPods and and recently purchased an iPhone.  I happen to love most of Apple’s products.  They are not perfect, but they are certainly functional, pretty/sexy (I am a girl, after all), and a pleasure to use.

    I am looking forward to purchasing iLife 08 and iWork 08, in the hopes that I will not have to use Microsoft Office again.  The Microsoft Office suite’s performance generally leads to nightmares for me. 

    With respect to the way Apple is run, I can see these perspectives.  However, it seems as if it is being said that Jobs somehow does not have the right to act like a spoiled little boy at times, and Apple should not run like other businesses.  From my perspective, Apple can do what it wants, just like any other business.  There are certain things that annoy me, and certain things that make me choose to patronize or not patronize certain businesses.  I am happy that there is enough in Apple’s favor to keep me as a customer.

    Steven, your article is well written, and I look forward to reading your next article.

    bluegirl had this to say on Oct 04, 2007 Posts: 19
  • I am looking forward to purchasing iLife 08 and iWork 08, in the hopes that I will not have to use Microsoft Office again.

    I’ve just bought iWork for the first time, and have NeoOffice as a backup, and have removed MS Office from my system.

    iWork 08 is just lovely, people don’t call Keynote the best consumer application in existence for nothing.

    Benji had this to say on Oct 04, 2007 Posts: 927
  • All I can say is that I use a Mac and a Windows machine all day every day, I love the Mac and hate the Windows machine—I use the Windows machine because I “have to*” and I use the Mac because I want to.

    Figure it out yourselves.

    * I don’t HAVE to use a Windows machine, just windows, and I’d rather use it on a separate machine than on a Mac.

    What's the Frequency Kenneth? had this to say on Oct 05, 2007 Posts: 11
  • Did you know you can install Windows Vista on a beige box using an oem disk and it WONT PLAY A DVD!! no codec license!

    I fired up my OEM Vista Home Premium running in VMWare on my iMac and you’re right, no luck playing a DVD right out of the box.  And VHP comes with Windows Media Center built-in!

    DVDs do play automatically on my HP with VHP in both WMP and WMC, so I’m not sure if HP added anything to it or not.

    Still, it’s one of those baffling moves by MS that makes it so easy to criticize them.  That plus the thrity-nine flavors of Vista.  What the hell are they thinking?  Are they TRYING to blow it?

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 05, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • One of the ads portrayed a Dell with a bunch of messy cables and an imac with two cables, the power cord and the keyboard.

    I agree.  In fact, logically speaking, a so-called all-in-one really just combines two components, the monitor and the box.  The advantage of the iMac then is exactly ONE less cable.  And the cables you do use have to be strewn across your desk, as mine are right now, since the computer itself has to sit on top of your desk and can’t be hidden.

    Ultimately it’s not a huge deal, but I find the iMac makes for a more, not less, cluttered desk.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 05, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • I am looking forward to purchasing iLife 08 and iWork 08, in the hopes that I will not have to use Microsoft Office again.

    I gave this method the old college try.  I love Pages and Numbers and thought I’d try switching some of my work to the new spreadsheet app.

    I created one of my work documents in Numbers.  The NEXT day by Mac died and was in the shop for two weeks.  I had my spreadsheet on a separate drive, but it was in the “numbers” file format.  If I had used Excel, I could have just opened it up on my PC in Excel and kept on working like I did with all of my other work.

    So abandoning Excel or Word hasn’t quite worked out for me just yet.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 05, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • Hence NeoOffice for such incidents.

    Benji had this to say on Oct 05, 2007 Posts: 927
  • (I agree that proprietary formats are a pain.)

    Benji had this to say on Oct 05, 2007 Posts: 927
  • I have had difficulties with NeoOffice.  It either will not open or crashes immediately after opening.  I have redownloaded and reinstalled several times.

    bluegirl had this to say on Oct 05, 2007 Posts: 19
  • How strange. What hardware are you on and how recently was this?

    Benji had this to say on Oct 05, 2007 Posts: 927
  • Sorry, got that, 3 yr old powerbook (g5?) iMac and powermac.

    Personally i use a 3 yr old powerbook too, I’m daring to ask if you downloaded the PowerPC distrib and not the Intel one by accident?

    Benji had this to say on Oct 05, 2007 Posts: 927
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