Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Maybe you've seen the latest in the Apple TV ads featuring John Hodgman and Justin Long (“Hello, I’m a Mac” “And I’m a PC”). Normally these are pertinent and witty, but the latest one isn’t up to the standard required when you’re trying to occupy the moral high ground. Hodgman (PC) lumbers on stage looking like Richard Griffiths in a brown suit, bloated and burdened by the weight of “useless” trial software, and says it “…really slows me down”. This perpetuates a meme you’ll hear repeated everywhere, even by IT support people who really should know better: that too much ‘stuff’ on your hard disk makes your machine run slower. There’s no real relation between how full your hard disk is and the speed of your computer. Software that’s installed just lies around on disk until you run it. When it’s not running, it can’t affect your system speed, whether that system runs Mac OS X, Windows or Linux.

The only things that might slow down your system without your wanting them to are pre-installed antivirus or firewall apps (Dell used to bundle McAfee products set up to run automatically) but as you shouldn’t run a Windows machine without at least some anti-virus software, and probably a firewall if you share your network with non-experts, I’d give that one a pass.

Oh, and while we're at it: Apple pre-installs trial versions of both its own office suite, iWork (can it be a suite when it has only two components?) and Microsoft’s Office. Microsoft Office won't even print until you purchase it. How useful is that for a suite that includes a word processor? And on the subject of disk space: the pre-installed iLife apps that are included in the price contain some fat boys themselves. iDVD tips the scales at around one and a half gigabytes with plenty of video templates under its belt, and iPhoto weighs in at half a gigabyte with all its templates.

I believe, with a lot of justification, that Macs are better in almost every area than Windows PCs. Apple’s been good about stressing the points where the Mac is better without recourse to misrepresentation or FUD. It’d be too bad if an overly zealous ad agency started to fling mud when its client isn’t exactly alabaster white.

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