The Mac mini Advantage

by John W. Flynt Mar 07, 2005

As much as I prefer my Mac for my personal life, I have a confession to make. The workhorse machine I use is a PC. It’s not personal, it’s just the OS I happen to have obtained the original licenses in.

I spent the 90’s replacing my machine every few years to meet new Windows requirements. Then a strange thing happened when I upgraded to Windows XP after its November 2001 release. The darn thing kept working.
The OS confusion from 1998-2001 was great for dot.comers like me. Keeping office networks running with multiple operating systems (95, 98, 98se, ME, NT, 2000) was lucrative, and sometimes mind-boggling challenge. (Mom? Hey, I’m sorry to call. Do you have the OEM from that old Windows 95 machine I used in high school?)I remember joking with another Apple-loyalist coworker about XP just before it was released. “How are we going to spend all the money we’re gonna make fixing this mess?”

In 2005, that joke isnt quite true. If Mac loyalists were to look at the state of Windows objectively, Windows XP did partially deliver on what the developer promised—a Windows experience that doesn’t totally suck. I can only speak from personal experience, but I haven’t spent as many Saturdays trying to get Windows XP to convert a non-NSFT partition. Manually configuring IP addresses is a thing of the past, and USB keys even work without additionally installed drivers. The tables seem to have turned.

Apple users are the ones using the (long term) economical choice, and XP users are the people using the OS “for the rest of us.” Since Microsoft seems content to concentrate on fixing security problems in Windows, where does that leave Apple in deciding where to go? I think they should do more to get out the message that the Mac multimedia experience is superior to XP. I was working to edit video last month with a fellow student that used XP, and he just looked on with shock as I plugged my camera into the computer, and my G4 started automatically uploading the video
for editing in iMovie. “Will that work with any camera?” he asked incredulously.

When I told him it would, he said he’d looked into getting into a Mac, but couldn’t afford one.

Enter the Mac mini.

The mini, for the uninitiated, is a bare bones Mac designed to lure those unsatisfied with the world of Wintel over to the Macintosh OS. Priced at $500 dollars for the bare bones machine, and $800 for a machine you’d actually use. The Mini’s main strength is that it ships with iTunes, iPhoto iDvd, and Appleworks, everything the average user needs right off the bat.

The mini will never fulfill the needs of Photoshop junkies like me. But for people just wanting an $500 box that works, Apple definitely has a product that could appeal to people that splurged on a $400 iPod.  For the person looking to edit video or burn a DVD the mac is still light years ahead of Windows. And the mini is the perfect machine.


  • I spent enough time getting my roommate’s XP Toshiba to play ball with our new 802.11 network. And I know from others that they still have UI issues.
    Personally, the major leap for me was Windows 2000, not XP. 2000 is fairly stable!

    The major advantages of OS X lie in other areas: Spyware, Adware, Viruses / Security. Interoperability with other Unix systems. Great (albeit sometimes too slow) hardware, especially the Powerbooks. And a beautiful, uniform, very easy-to-use UI…

    David Reitter had this to say on Mar 07, 2005 Posts: 4
  • IMHO, the usability gap is larger.

    Take the Network Preferences for example. The network status is an invaluable time saving UI enhancement for OS X. The single, unified preference panel is light-years ahead of XP. XP simply tacked on some networking wizards, and left the user in dialog box hell when configuring the network. I counted up to 5 dialog boxes to configure my work ethernet network access on WinXP.

    The Locations functionality widens it even further - XP lacks a single menu command to switch network profiles like Locations gives you.

    Nathan had this to say on Mar 07, 2005 Posts: 219
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