Instead of Windows what about a Mac?

xpThis is the third blog in a series where we discuss the end of life for Windows XP scheduled for 8 April 2014.  We’ve just discussed Windows 7 and Windows 8 and we will wrap up with What about my files and software?.  The goal of this series is education about the issues facing you, the Windows XP user.

While contemplating the purchase of a new computer, apple_windowsyou may want to consider a Mac.  You’ve heard Mac’s are easy to use and you won’t have to worry about a viruses and antivirus software.  Instead of choosing between Windows 7 and Windows 8, you may want to consider a Mac and Mac OS X.

What is Mac OS X?  If you are familiar with a Windows computer, Windows is the operating system (created by Microsoft) and the computer itself (the actual machine) is made by a company like HP, Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo or other manufacturer.  In the case of a Mac, the hardware (computer) and operating system (Mac OS X) are both supplied by Apple.

Apple products are known for being easy to use and do not suffer from some of the issues that Windows computers are known for.  However, there are a few myths that exist regarding the Mac.  The first is that a Mac can not catch a virus or be hacked, therefore Mac users do not need antivirus software.  I did say myth didn’t I?  I have a Mac, and yes, I run antivirus software on it!  Curious?  Check out these articles:

If you are considering a Mac do not make the move simply because you expect to be virus free.  Whether you are running a Windows or Mac computer, security is not guaranteed!

apple_windows2The second issue to consider: many peripheral devices from flash drives, external hard drives, mice, keyboards and printers are not always available for the Mac.  There are differences in the communication between a peripheral and the computer.  Products that are Mac compatible generally have a blue Mac logo on them; products without this logo usually will not run on your Mac.  You should take a look at your printers and other devices and determine if they will run on the Mac.  If you don’t have the packaging, visit the vendor site to determine if your device will run on a Mac. 

This leaves us with the software you use on a daily basis.  You will need to know if “your software” will run on a Mac; not all software is available for both operating systems.  Make a list of the software you use and can’t survive without.  Be aware that the majority of software companies will require you to purchase a new Mac version of their product.  Very few include both Windows and Mac versions on the same CD or in the same download.  Microsoft Office is also available for the Mac, but you will need to purchase a Mac license.

If your list comes down to one or two programs you can’t live without, such as your genealogy software, that are not available for the Mac, you can run Windows on your Mac using tools like Parallels, Virtual Box and Fusion.  Many Windows programs will run in these “hosted Windows environments”.  In order to make these tools work you will need to have a copy of Windows, just make sure it isn’t Windows XP or you’ll be right back where you started.

Our last post in this series will take a look at some of the software options for Windows 7, Windows 8 and Mac OS X.

I make reference to specific Microsoft, Apple or other products.  These names are or may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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