Apple is moving its Macs to Arm. Is it time for Mac users to switch to Windows?

Apple is moving its Macs to Arm. Is it time for Mac users to switch to Windows? Cybersecurity

This article is intended as a tactical analysis which explores the adoption alternatives to the Mac under Arm. It is not a fanatic religious speech. I use Macs, Windows machines and Linux machines almost every day. I’m not saying that you must switch. I’m just exploring the question of whether a change is necessary and why.

Keep in mind that any major architectural change in technology offers an opportunity to explore alternatives. I will therefore examine whether the time has come to change. And why. Finally, I would like to show you the reasons why you might want to choose each of the three major operating systems. OK here we go…

Obsolescence from year to year

Within the next year or so, some of us will start thinking about buying new machines to replace the ones we use today.

It is not a new phenomenon. Each year, Apple releases a new version of macOS and each year, some machines are left by the wayside. These machines will not be able to upgrade to the new version of the operating system and will eventually become vulnerable to security issues and will no longer be able to run certain applications.

In my case, 80% of my Mac fleet becomes obsolete with Big Sur. These are models from 2013 at best. None of them will work with the next version of macOS without being tweaked a bit.

I always wait six months to a year before upgrading the operating systems. Only two of my current Macs have been updated to Mojave and I will probably wait even longer to update the rest. But there is a limit to the time I can wait. When the applications you rely on no longer work on the version of the operating system you are using, you should update.

In short, I can probably continue to run my fleet of obsolete Macs until 2021, but by 2022 I will have to replace them. And that begs the question: replace them with what? When the equipment needs to be replaced, it is natural to consider alternatives. This in turn opens the door to the question of upgrading – not to a Mac, but to Windows.

Ecosystem obsolescence

Beyond the annual obsolescence that occurs when operating systems no longer support the underlying hardware, the entire installed base of Macs will become obsolete within 2 to 5 years. There will come a time, probably in 2024 or 2025, but perhaps as early as 2023, when Intel-based Macs will no longer receive updates to their operating systems.

At that point, Intel-based Mac owners will be faced with the same question as the one I mentioned above: replace them with what?

The issue of cost will certainly be a major problem. The Mac mini I bought in 2018 cost just over $ 2,000. I couldn’t get exactly the same functionality on a PC, but I bought a roughly equivalent PC and it cost me about half the price.

In the next three to four years, all Mac users will have to decide whether they want to upgrade their hardware to new Macs or to PCs. And so yes the question of price will certainly be an important criterion.

The Linux question

Before I move on, I need to address the Linux elephant in the room. Some people still think that the user interface of the Linux desktop remains quite impenetrable, even for veterans of Windows and Mac.

But it is true that distributions like Linux Mint have nothing to envy to Windows. Above all, Linux Mint is more or less “plug and play”. But yes, it all depends on the user interface. Gnome is very different from Windows, yes, but KDE, Xfce and Cinnamon are not very different from what we know with Microsoft.

There is a lot in common between Linux and the other two operating systems, Mac and Windows. macOS and Linux are both derived from a UNIX-style code base, although Linux has been a reimplementation and macOS is based on BSD. That said, they share many features under the hood. For example, if you are a command line wizard on Mac, you will immediately know about command line operations on Linux.

But since Linux was designed to run on standard PC hardware, it shares all of its hardware base with Windows PCs. Almost all Windows PCs (or PCs made from Windows PC components) can run Linux. Linux drivers have been improved considerably in the past five years. It is a strong point.

That said, even if I really like Linux, I could never use it for my desktop computer because the applications I rely on – namely Office and Creative Cloud, as well as Final Cut and a wide variety of applications for Mac – do not work under Linux.

What about Windows?

This will be a difficult question for many people who focus more on their wallet than on their desktop computer. I admit that I’m frustrated with the pace of Apple’s updates – although we now know more about the limitations that Apple had with the Skylake processors that led to Arm.

In addition, the wide variety of innovation on PC has often made Mac users jealous. There is no Surface Studio for Mac. There is no touch screen interface. Beyond the incredibly expensive Mac Pro, there is no way to build a large tower filled with custom components.

We, the experienced business users, who certainly represent only a very small percentage of Mac buyers, have often felt stuck with the limited choice of hardware offered by Apple.

But if all of these Intel-based Macs become obsolete, isn’t this the perfect time to change? Why not get exactly the PC design and configuration you want, and just run Windows? After all, after five years on the market, Windows 10 has become a fairly powerful operating system. Windows could therefore be a viable substitute. Especially since the machines are much cheaper.

Cheaper ? Really ?

It depends on whether you value them based on the purchase price or the duration of use. I’m going to give you an example. For most of the 2000s, my main machines were Windows – Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. I really liked XP and Windows 7. But beyond the question of which applications I should use (j will come back to that later), there was the issue of the Windows update cycle.

The pattern has long been as follows: I was building / buying a new Windows PC as powerful as possible. I spent about a month setting it up the way I wanted. I then enjoyed it for about a year. Then I discovered that it was no longer up to the task, that the pilots were no longer working, that one component was defective or that there was an irrecoverable incompatibility with another component. After 18 months, it became obvious that I had to buy another PC.

Every 18 months.

And they weren’t cheap Windows machines. The PC I bought in July 2012, for example, cost me $ 3,000. It had as much memory as possible, the fastest processor I could get. He too showed signs of failure after 18 months. In fact, after 15e months I wanted He also failed. Constantly. In fact at 15emonth, I wanted to throw it out the window.

Now let’s take a look at my Mac fleet. The machine I’m using right now to write this article is a 2013 iMac. Although it isn’t powerful enough to edit 4K video, it’s great for writing code. So I have been using it for seven years – and I will probably use it until 2021. So 8 years of use. Not 18 months.

I also have a Mac mini from 2011 and three Mac mini from 2012. These will probably also be used until 2021, so I envisage a lifespan of nine or ten years, and not of 18 months. My 2015 MacBook Pro has extremely fast storage capacity. He is only five years old. My latest acquisition is a very sophisticated 2018 Mac mini, bought in November 2018. It was 19 months ago and it is far from needing to be refreshed. It still seems to me as new as the day I bought it.

So yes, Windows machines have more options, are more varied in terms of specifications and are cheaper to buy. But I found that the total cost of ownership was much lower with my Macs. A typical Windows PC costs me around $ 1,000 to $ 1,500 a year to operate. I measured this cost over fifteen years, and on ten machines.

To be perfectly fair, my wife has been using the same Samsung Ultrabook for seven or eight years. So if you are not as demanding on hardware as I am, your TCO may not be as high as mine.

That said, if you divide the purchase cost by the number of years of service, operating my Mac mini, which is almost ten years old and still in operation, cost me between 100 and 150 dollars a year. My MacBook Pro has cost me $ 600 a year so far, but at the end of its life, that figure will drop to around $ 450 a year. My very expensive iMac will also cost around $ 450 a year. Even the very latest Mac mini, bought 18 months ago and which probably has four years of macOS updates at its disposal, will cost less than $ 400 a year.

There are many reasons why Macs tend to have fewer entropy problems than PCs. But a big part of the problem is the vertical integration of hardware and software. On a classic PC, you will find components designed and manufactured by many different companies, controlled by a motherboard designed by another provider, running an operating system designed by another player.

At design time, engineers try to make sure these components will work together, but since Microsoft developers never, ever know the exact configuration you’re using, it’s actually a guessing game. In contrast, macOS developers know always the configuration you are running because it is only one of ten possible configurations.

On the one hand, it’s a big lack of flexibility that tends to irritate very advanced users. But it is also a winning formula for much more reliable engineering. Add to that the generally better components due to the rigors of Apple’s supply chain, and you get a more reliable machine with a longer lifespan.

From a cost standpoint, therefore, it’s hard to say that Windows machines cost less. I have done careful accounting to prove that this is not the case. I am not the only one to make this observation. Even IBM has determined that Macs have a lower cost of ownership than PCs.

All this to say that my Intel Macs will be depreciated by the time they go in the trash. And it’s likely that new Macs with Apple Silicon will offer similar cost and lifecycle benefits.

But all of this is nothing compared to …

Applications and user experience

No way for me to go back to break my head with Adobe Premiere after three years of great achievements in Final Cut Pro X. And I could cite a lot of applications that do not exist on any platform other than Mac.

I can run Windows, Linux and macOS on one machine. I get great performance by running Windows in a Parallels VM and the ability to copy and paste and drag and drop between Windows and Mac applications is a huge gain for me.

Open source attorney Mike Godwin rules the law. “Honestly, I can’t imagine why it would make a difference to anyone, one way or another. I don’t expect VMWare or Parallels to work less well. The problem with virtualization is different today from what it was 10 or 20 years ago, ”he says. So as long as the OS virtualization technologies work, I think the premium of use will always lean on the side of Apple.

to summarize

While the prospect of buying very expensive new Macs is scary, the total cost of ownership is significantly lower than Windows. Beyond that, Mac users are Mac users for a reason (or, more precisely, for many individual reasons). Like me, they will migrate to the new hardware when necessary.

For most Mac users, the move to Apple Silicon will not only be an unprecedented event, given Apple’s architectural migration skills, but most of us will just be moving when it is time to buy a new Mac.



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