The Megahertz Myth Revisited

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
May 10th, 2003 • 1:51 am

A recent column on Mac vs. PC speed issues at is generating a lot of comments — too many, in fact, to make it worth posting one’s own comments there. (That’s the limitation of the format.) So I’d rather post my comments here.

The main issue I have with the (admittedly) unscientific testing is that it tests Microsoft applications running under Mac OS X, and finds them wanting compared to Microsoft applications running under Windows XP.

Well, such testing is not only unscientific, it’s utterly biased. Microsoft has absolutely no real incentive to make their applications run fast under Mac OS X. They have no competition (except for Safari, which wipes out Explorer), and, while selling Mac software is probably a good source of revenue for them, getting people to switch to Windows by frustrating them with second-class Microsoft applications in Mac OS X is probably even more lucrative in the long run. I just don’t buy the official propaganda coming from Microsoft’s so-called “Mac Business Unit” about how independent they are, how Mac friendly they are, etc. Day-to-day experience using Microsoft’s flagship applications for the Mac (Word, Explorer, etc.) is a never-ending confirmation that Microsoft doesn’t really “get” the Mac and doesn’t really want to get it.

It is true that there are probably quite a few Mac users out there who use mostly Microsoft applications under Mac OS X, and, for them, this column is relevant. But these Mac users are doing themselves a great disservice. They should explore alternatives, try to LIMIT their use of Microsoft products as much as possible, and they’ll probably discover that the world of Mac OS X is surprisingly snappy and reliable — and, above all, a really exciting and happening environment.

I am not “in denial” about Mac vs. PC raw speed issues. But I am very doubtful of testing that uses Microsoft applications running on the Mac as a benchmark. In addition, “real life” testing should not only include a handful of “typical” computing tasks, but also factor in all the time spent troubleshooting one’s machine, trying to understand arcane and user-hostile software, etc. That’s real life in the computing world.

Comments are closed.

Leave a Reply

Comments are closed.