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PC vs. MAC

Q. I have been using a PC for many years, both at my job and at home. Now I am retired and I'll need a new computer soon (mine now runs Windows XP). My grandson told me that the Apple Mac is much easier and it doesn't have any viruses. Is this a good time for me to make a change?

A. That question has come up a lot recently. Apple is on a roll, selling millions of iPhones and iPads. In fact Apple just announced the largest quarterly profit of any company in history - $18 billion, and now has $142 billion in cash reserves (enough for $556 for every one in the US - not bad).

But Apple's financial success won't necessarily make it a smooth transition for you. The Apple operating system, OS X, is very different from the Windows OS you are used to. In addition, the Mac keyboard is different is some ways, and not all the same software is available on both platforms (Windows and OS X are referred to as "platforms" in the computer biz). You no doubt trust your grandson, but think for a moment about his technical background versus yours. You likely didn't get your first computer until somewhere down the road – college or even later. Then you had to learn how it worked, and your expertise likely grew alongside it, throughout your working life. It probably wasn't altogether easy, but you became comfortable with it, at least to some extent.

Now think about your grandson's technical background. He was born into the computer age – he may have had a rudimentary computer in pre-school, or before. Very likely he used a Mac in school – Apple has been very successful in that market. So he knows Mac inside and out. If he had to switch to a PC, it would be no big deal – he lives technology. For you it might be more like learning to drive on the left side of the road after a lifetime of driving on the right. You'll likely get to the same places eventually, but the road may be bumpier along the way.

True - Macs don't get the number of viruses that PC's do, but you still need to be vigilant on both platforms to be sure you are web surfing safely, and careful about what software you download. At the Prescott Computer Society we address those issues often.

Published: Courier 2/7/15 - Page 11A