The Advantage: Running Mac OS X and Windows Vista
Exaggerated pricing myths on Apple systems aside, Apple’s biggest selling tool is Mac OS X and the fact that you can now run Windows XP or Vista on the same machine native. With BootCamp, you can get the best of both words in a general sense. Let’s make it clear though that if you’re a serious gamer who plays games like Crysis, you would still be held back because of the lack of high-end 3D graphics support. The latest for the Mac is a Radeon HD 3780 — good but not the best available.
For most other games and everything else, it really works nicely. Windows drivers for the Mac are fully provided by Apple to enable all hardware on the Mac to work in Windows. So you get a full Mac and a full Windows system. You get the best of Mac OS X and the best of Windows on one machine.
At this point, some people will say something like "well the only reason why BootCamp is provided to install and run Windows is because Windows is better." This is not the point. If you already have a PC and enjoy it and find it does everything you need, stick to it. If you’re in the market for a new system to replace a main desktop, this is the article for you. If someone is insistent on one thing, there’s no reason to continue reading. If they’re open to new ideas and new ways of doing something, then read on.
The operating system continually refines itself and Apple markets this OS as the ultimate desktop experience. Lest there be any confusion, Apple also sells OS X Server although the market for OS X server is admittedly very tiny. Who needs pretty graphics in a serious server environment anyway? Most of the time, there no head attached to a server — things are administered through a remote terminal.
Mac OS X is also based on a very robust UNIX foundation, which lends itself to being quite secure and powerful. However, given that the market share for Macs is much smaller than Windows, its prevalence to attack ratio is also lower. There are simply a greater number of Windows machines to be exploited. If the market shares were reversed, we would see Mac OS X exploited at a far greater level. However, keep in mind that the majority of Internet websites run on a *nix back end, it demonstrates that at the core, there are fewer holes to begin with. At the end of the day, anything that’s used more will no doubt reveal more security holes.
An entire in-depth review of Mac OS X Leopard is beyond the scope of this article, and would require adding more than 10 pages, so we’ll leave that for the future. In fact, Apple is preparing the next major release of OS X, called Snow Leopard and we’ll definitely look at that release when it ships. For now, I highly recommend John Siracusa at ArsTechnica’s review of Leopard for a really good understanding of why OS X is so powerful and why it’s very good at scaling into the future.
Expect to see things like the new powerful ZFS file system be introduced, which will allow for such features as byte-level delta backups.
The lack of a registry makes everything a bit more agile. Applications store their own settings in .plist files or within themselves, making for installs and uninstalls a snap — just drag the application over or delete it. Rarely do you have to worry about lingering or overlapping system files.
In a nutshell however, OS X delivers what many Windows users have to install several utilities for — and the majority of the good ones come with a small fee. Let’s take a look at some of these features.