Is the Macintosh on the Way Out?
by Alan Zisman (c) 1992. Originally
published in INPUT, June 1992
Windows 3.x has made the Mac an endangered species.
Don't get me wrong... I like the Mac. In a lot of
ways, it's technically
superior to the horde of PC's and clones surrounding it out there, and
has been since its debut. Nevertheless, its days are numbered.
I've used Windows at home and at since version 2.x. (I
with Windows 1.x on a 512k monochrome CGA machine with floppy drives
and found it a nice way to display a full-screen clock, but I sure
want to try to do any work on it.) And all the time, it was clear that
this was a cheap knock-off of the Mac's way of doing things. Microsoft
even worked out a license deal with Apple, way back in the version 1
Yeah, Windows had, er, Windows, and it used a mouse, and it kind-of had
(ugly) icons... but it certainly didn't threaten the Mac on its home
of consistency across applications, well-thought out file-management,
all-around graphical look. Even though it sometimes crossed the line to
cutesy, the Mac generally looked classy. Too much of the time, Windows
just looked tacky by comparison.
Even with the new 3.1 upgrade, Windows doesn't quite
make it in comparison
to the Mac. There are nowhere near as many applications. There's
to compare to the Mac's Finder for everyday file management and
applications. You can go to the trouble of creating an icon for a
and placing it in a Program Manager group in Windows, and using it to
an application... on the Mac, it just appears. Windows goes beyond the
limitations of DOS in many ways; the old 640k memory limitation simply
doesn't exist for Windows anymore. But Windows users are still stuck
old 8+3 character filenames, and segmented memory. Decent sound means
an add-in card, and then having to deal with trying to convert
file formats, or with programs that don't quite believe in the
of the sound card.
Despite the Mac's clear superiority technologically,
there is no question
that Windows is superior in the one area where it counts the most---
-- In the just under two years since Windows 3.0's
sold more copies of Windows than Apple has sold Macs since 1984.
-- Apple has been forced to drastically cut MacIntosh
prices. This has
led to a dramatic upsurge in sales, but Apple is in the awkward
of making less money selling more machines.
-- Apple is having to play defensive ball in a number
of areas. System
7 found Apple playing catch up, bringing MacIntosh users a number of
such as virtual memory support that had been available to Windows 3.0
in some cases, like Dynamic Data Exchange, even to WIndows 2.x users).
With Windows 2.1, Apple finally saw Windows as a threat rather than a
and filed a lawsuit against Microsoft and Hewlett Packard (for their
Wave add-on to Windows) that ultimately was claiming hundred of
of dollars in damages. In April, virtually all their claims were
by the trial judge. Apple's long term startegy of getting in bed with
arch-rival IBM to create a new, post-Mac operating system doesn't leave
many Mac users feeling comfortable.
-- MacIntosh software creators are putting more and
more effort into
porting their software to the Windows environment, rather than
new products for the Mac. Even Claris, Apple's wholly-owned software
is joining the crowd. Apple has even announced that its QuickTime
software will be made available for Windows.
-- Even the software areas that have been strong Mac
are getting tough Windows competition. And not just one strong program
per area, often three or four. For instance, the past few months have
24-bit colour paint programs, all with full grey-scale, scanner, and
features appearing from Z-Soft, Aldus, and Microgrfx... all in
It seems a little funny to see programs on the shelves
with names like
MacDraw for Windows or MacInTax for Windows. But MacIntosh software
are going where the potential market is, and many seem to feel that
on a small percentage of 100 million MS-DOS computers can be more
than being on a large percentage of 8 million Macs. And that's the
problem for Apple... users can get about as much done running PageMaker
or Excel or FreeHand under Windows as on a Mac, and even with Apple's
cuts, they can do it for half the cost on a clone running Windows. (And
according to PCMag's recent comparison (yes, they're probably biased),
they can do it faster on the clone).
Windows isn't as good as the Mac, in a lot of
fundamental ways. Nevertheless,
for many users, it's good enough. Mac users have always been
loyal to their computing standard, but I suspect that in two years time
or so, the Mac will just seem like a quirky, expensive way to run