8 Reasons Windows Users Don’t Switch

by Steven Leigh Oct 02, 2007

Let me say it right off the bat: Macs running OS X give the best computing experience on the planet. It’s not that Macs are perfect, but compared to everything else, there is nothing like the Mac experience. With that in mind, it’s difficult for many Mac users to comprehend why there are so many Windows users suffering needlessly by running a Windows system. That’s where I come in.

I have been a die-hard Windows user since I started computing. If you had told me I would switch to Mac at any point in the future, I would have laughed at you. There was nothing that could ever make me switch! Well, that didn’t exactly last forever, but as a recent Mac “switcher,” I have a unique perspective on both worlds. Experienced Mac users may not have the perspective that it takes to see what makes Windows users stay with Microsoft, and let’s face it, some Mac users (not you or me, of course) are just downright zealots who think that anyone using Windows should be cast into the fiery pits of Mount Doom and forgotten for all eternity. (Nerd alert!)

So allow me to take an objective look at what keeps some Windows users from switching, from the perspective of someone who has resisted switching to Mac for a long time and was looking for any excuse to stay with Windows. And once you’ve read this article, check out 8 Reasons Windows Users Do Switch to Mac to learn what is working.

1. Ignorance
Ignorance is merely a lack of knowledge, and when it comes to Macs, most Windows users, myself included, are extremely uninformed. My experiences with Macs were mostly pre-OS X, before the really good stuff began to happen, and I made a decision that Macs were not for me and never looked back. Many Windows users think they’ll have to “re-learn everything” and that nothing will be familiar. While this is partly true, Macs are so much easier to use; many beginners find it easier to do most tasks intuitively, without having to be taught or open a manual. As someone who has spent long hours teaching family and friends how to do simple tasks like email attachments, I can you tell that the same cannot be said about Windows.

2. The Office
No, I’m not blaming Steve Carell, I’m talking about where you work. Most office environments run Windows, period. While this is beginning to change, the reality is that the majority of people are using Windows at the office. If you need to bring your work home and get things done, it makes sense that you should run Windows at home, right? Not really, but the average Windows user doesn’t know about Office for Macs, or that their files will still be compatible. They don’t realize how easy it is to work across both platforms, or that they can even run Windows on their Mac when all else fails. Even if they do know these things, they figure that it will be more difficult to work on two platforms than it is worth.  Apple is doing a great job lately of educating people on these misunderstandings, but it is still the prevailing thought among Windows users. Even if the Mac doesn’t get a strong hold on the business market, it’s important that people know they’re capable of it.

3. Hardware
I have always been a bit of a hardware geek, and used to enjoy building my own machines. Every few years, I would upgrade the motherboard and processor, and re-use the case, the hard drives, and power supply, and could make a significant upgrade for $400-500. I can never do this with a Mac. Hardware geeks are hard to convince for this very reason, and even average Windows users may scoff at something like an iMac because they don’t want to pay for a new monitor every time they upgrade their computer. Mac Minis are popular with Windows switchers because they can use their current monitor, mouse, and keyboard and not have them bundled as with an iMac. This is becoming less of an issue as the price of Macs have come down considerably, and technology moves so fast nowadays, you’ll likely to want to upgrade almost every component every few years anyway. As a former system-builder, I’m now at a point in my life where I would rather pay a little extra for a system that works right out of the box and has great support than save a few hundred dollars at the cost of countless hours of being my own tech support.

4. Price
The perception by Windows users is that Macs are more expensive than Windows PCs. This may have been true in the past, but the new Macs are very comparably priced to similarly equipped PCs. Unfortunately, the perception remains. Budget PCs may undercut Mac prices, but budget PCs sacrifice quality parts and support. Apple has shown that they are not interested in competing in the budget computer market, and it’s a smart move, as the margins in this area are extremely small. Windows users should consider what they’re getting for the extra money. Apple’s support is top-notch, the included software, such as iLife, is stellar, and the quality and design of the machines is always first-class.

5. Lies
Let’s face it: Apple tends to bend the truth once in a while, especially about Microsoft and Windows. One of the “Get a Mac” ads states that Windows is for spreadsheets and pie-charts, while Macs are for “fun stuff” like photos, movies, etc. To Mac users, this seems both funny and true. Windows users, however, are thinking of the aisles and aisles of games that are available for Windows, while there is a half-shelf devoted to games for the Mac. I don’t know about you, but I can only have so much fun playing with photos. Things like this just sound like lies, and they sometimes present Apple as a company that has to lie about its competitors to get business. Other ads point out flaws in Windows that are so true it hurts, especially letting people know that Macs don’t get viruses, or that Macs include a lot more useful software and less bloat than Windows. Don’t get me wrong, I take the commercials as a light-hearted jab, as they are intended, but some of them bend the truth so much that it creates mistrust.

6. Windows Bashing
Apple and Steve Jobs are constantly making jabs at Vista and Microsoft, and Mac users follow suit. That’s understandable, but when Steve Jobs is constantly berating Vista and Microsoft instead of touting the features and advantages of Apple’s own products, it makes Windows users think that Macs don’t have much going for them. I remember watching the 20 or 30 minute Vista-bashing session at the WWDC conference and wondering why Steve Jobs is so insecure that he has to berate the opposition. Can you imagine shopping for a car and having the salesman only talk about what’s wrong with the competition’s cars? This always reminds me of John Kerry, whose entire campaign was about bashing Bush instead of telling you why he was a good candidate himself. It didn’t work for him either. Apple, your products are the best in the industry. Act like it.

7. Vista
I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret, but you need to sit down first. Windows Vista is actually a good operating system! There. I said it. The ugly truth is that Vista is the best operating system Microsoft has ever released, and for many users, it is good enough. That’s right, good enough. I really like Vista. It fixes so many of the little issues that have plagued me for years, and if I had to use Windows, it’s the version I would use. But now that I have spent time with OS X, I could never go back. For Windows users who have never touched OS X, or are resisting Macs for any of the reasons listed here, Vista is the best operating system they have ever used. I know, I pity them too, but all we can do is hope that they see the light eventually.

8. Mac Users
Okay, I’m not talking about you or me here, but there are some Mac users out there who have just a little too much love for Apple. When they are shouting (or typing in all caps) about how much better Macs are, they’re not convincing anyone to switch, they are scaring them away. Even well-intentioned Mac users can sometimes get a little carried away. I’ve had many friends lecture me for hours on end that I was stupid not to switch, and all it did was push me further away. In contrast, when I got a chance to sit down and quietly use a Mac, I began to enjoy the experience, and luckily, a friend was smart enough to answer my questions and just let me play for a while, and it made all the difference.

Apple is doing so much right these days. I am sometimes awestruck by their constant stream of good decisions, but there are still so many Windows users unwilling to take the bait. I think it helps to know what we’re up against when we’re trying to convince Windows users to join the Mac side, and I hope I have provided some insight.

Did I miss some reasons? I’d love to read them in the comments.


  • Vista is rubbish.  I too am a Windows user since before Windows95 and haven’t owned a Mac since my Macintosh II in 1988.  Since then I have been a PC hardware junkie and hard-core gamer with regular upgrades to bleeding-edge graphics cards and processors and whatever the latest OS was that Microsoft had to offer. 

    I forked out an extrordinary amount of cash for Vista Ultimate Edition within a week of it being released.  It was touted to be the answer to all my x64 problems and was going to be the easiest, prettiest, most stable and most secure OS ever from Microsoft.  It lasted for two weeks before I took it off my main computer and went back to XP.  No decent driver support, annoying user access control, freezes and crashes - when my activation failed due to my Internet connection dropping out I was presented with a “customer support” link from Microsoft that practically accused me of piracy!

    The day Leopard is released is the day I order a new Mac!

    And please, people, give the “Apple is behaves just like Microsoft” and “Apple are a monoploy too” arguments a rest.  That doesn’t excuse Microsoft for making poor quality products with massive price tags.  The fact is that however they run their businesses, Apple simply make top-quality products and provide top-notch service.

    Dgar had this to say on Oct 03, 2007 Posts: 3
  • “The big problem with lists like this is that they miss the subtleties—the underlying realities.”

    Actually, the big problem with lists like this is that people take them way too seriously.  These are merely my own observations, drawn from my own opinion, and distilled into 8 bullet points.  This was never meant to be a long manifesto on everything that is wrong with Apple.  It was only meant to bring up a few points that Mac users may not have considered, and to spark discussion.

    Your points are valid and well-written, of course, but well beyond the point of this article.  I would not be the person to cover the entire subject in detail, and if I were going to try and tackle that, I would write a full book, and not a short article.

    Steven Leigh had this to say on Oct 03, 2007 Posts: 13
  • Oh yes, and as for Vista being rubbish, I partially agree.  The sad reality is that Vista is actually quite good in and of itself, but plagued by many other related issues, some of which are out of Microsoft’s control.  Others were Microsoft’s own doing, however.

    What issues you might ask?  Stay tuned.  I will cover my observations on Vista in an upcoming article.

    Also, stay tuned for the opposite side of this article, “8 Reasons Windows Users DO Switch”, which should appear next week.

    Steven Leigh had this to say on Oct 03, 2007 Posts: 13
  • “Apple is digging itself out of a big Public Relations hole caused by mismanagement in the early to middle 90’s”

    And digging themselves right into another one by bricking iPhones when customers exercise their right to open the phone to other carriers.

    Luckily they have their loyal sheep followers blaming everyone from the customers themselves to at&t (and I’m sure you can work MS in there somehow), everyone but Apple.

    “Vista does not have the underlying modern foundations of Mac OSX which is why it requires more expensive hardware to run its full Areo graphical system.”

    That’s an outright falsehood.  Misinformation.  FUUUUUD.

    My $600 PC runs Vista like a champ, Aero and all.  And $600, last time I checked, the same price as an underpowered mini and a third of what I paid for my iMac.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 03, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • “Apple is limited by its own restrictions on its customers. That’s why I don’t think Apple will make big in roads in Window’s markets.”

    I think you hit the nail right on the head.  And the iPhone is just the latest example (and certainly the most egregious) of just how much of a stranglehold Apple loves to have on its products and its customers.  And they are getting worse, not better.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 03, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • “And please, people, give the “Apple is behaves just like Microsoft” and “Apple are a monoploy too” arguments a rest.”

    I agree.  Apple is much worse.  Not only are they a monopoly in the music player market, they are a vertical monopoly as well.

    Apple and their customers like to blame the labels, blame at&t whenever they are accused of questionable business practices, but I think the reality is being slowly revealed.

    Remember how the labels wanted to raise prices on music but heroic Apple stood their ground to protect consumers from the mean ol’ baddies?  Remember how the labels finally bowed to Jobs’s demand to get rid of DRM (even though EMI had been thinking about doing this anyway).  And remember how DRM-free music in iTunes costs $1.29?

    Well guess what happened when Universal ditched Apple and both Universal and EMI started selling DRM-free music at Amazon?  The price went up, just like they’d always wanted, right?  Nope.  The price went DOWN.  DRM-free tunes are 89 cents compared to $1.29, and they are the same bitrate, they are mp3, and play in ALL players.

    And remember how at&t were the ones who were forbidding iPhones from being opened and were keeping out all the third party software?  Well guess what.  You can open up every phone at&t sells EXCEPT the iPhone.  And guess what else?  The iPhone is the only phone sold by at&t without a subsidy for customers and that gives a kickback from your phone bill to the cell phone maker.

    Not that I’m a MS fan.  They are both big huge greedy corporations that use monopolistic practices to take advantage of customers.  I’m just tired of Apple’s gullible fanbase acting like their shit don’t stink, like Jobs is somehow looking out for you.  He’s not.  He wants your money.  Period.

    “Apple simply make top-quality products and provide top-notch service.”

    When your mother board breaks on that top quality product, take a guess how much it costs to replace.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 03, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • There’s a long list of practical, tangible reasons for Windows users to avoid the Mac platform. As mentioned in a previous reply, most folks couldn’t care less about the subject. It’s not a question of ignorance. Intelligent and successful people, from all over, manage just fine without ever touching a Macintosh computer.

    Price certainly is a factor.  Apple may not be interested in budget pricing – and it may not be in their best interest – but the buyer is very much interested in the cost of computer hardware. Some real bargains are available in PC’s right now, both desktops and laptops. I know, as I recently bought one – an HP Slimline desktop model running Vista, Office and some other Windows-only software. It’s not a flimsy piece of junk either. It is proving to be a perfectly functional machine. Comparing the price and the specs to a Mac Mini, well…

    Speaking of Office, the 2007 version on my PC has been a pleasure to use. Speed, stability, compatibility…it runs rings around the Macintosh package. I’ve been a regular user of Word and Excel on my Macs, but the difference is obvious. Has anyone seen the previews of Office 2008? What an eyesore of an interface! Yes, I’m well aware of Boot Camp and the whole virtual machine thing. Buying a Mac, though, primarily to run Windows software just doesn’t make much sense.

    Apple has made it easier for the PC world to use many of the company’s products without actually buying a Mac – iTunes, iPod, iPhone, Apple TV, Airport Express, QuickTime Player, QuickTime Pro…

    All of these are available for use on Windows-based computers. I’ve read that this is intended as a Trojan Horse to lure converts. Maybe so, but an opposite reaction could also take place. iTunes works fine on my HP and I can access all the same QT content. With a Pro license, I can do some editing as well. The iLife package is a draw for many, but guess what? For the casual user, Windows Movie Maker and Photo Gallery are more than adequate.

    A co-worker uses a PC laptop and runs AutoCad for a living. He had thought about a Mac, but couldn’t justify the high cost of a MacBook Pro along with a separate copy of Windows. It just didn’t add up. He has installed iTunes as his default music player and bought a new iPod Nano. I showed him what could be done with QuickTime Pro. He’s happy.

    Lucky13 had this to say on Oct 03, 2007 Posts: 11
  • And I am sure Apple is perfectly happy to be seen to be catering to a ‘premium experience’ market.

    Benji had this to say on Oct 03, 2007 Posts: 927
  • “3. Hardware
    ...Every few years, I would upgrade the motherboard and processor, and re-use the case, the hard drives, and power supply… I can never do this with a Mac.”

    A year ago, I was in a big bind, as my department desperately needed HW upgrades, but there was no budget until the following fiscal year. There were about 100 Macs in the department, more than half of which were old Graphite towers from 2001-2, running OS 9.

    I created a standard OS X (Tiger) build on a 2nd 80GB hard drive, so users could dual-boot, maxed out the ram at 1.5 GB, and in many cases (particularly the Quicksilver machines), I installed PowerLogix processor upgrades that boosted the Graphite boxes from 400mhz to 1.2 ghz, and the Quicksilvers from a single 1.25 ghz to dual 1.42.

    It was a risky kludge for an editorial/production environment at a major publisher, but the Editors were desperate for an OS X build of any kind, as the old OS 9 browsers were failing them (they couldn’t even see our own website correctly!)

    So Reason 3 is technically incorrect - legacy Macs can be updated at low cost. (I also once installed a G4 chip in an old G3 PowerBook purchased new in 2000 - it ran really HOT, but it kept me going through Panther.)

    tao51nyc had this to say on Oct 03, 2007 Posts: 45
  • A good, objective, useful article.  I hope Apple Matters features more of these in the future.
    Lately, there’s been a series of fluff articles that weren’t very useful or thought provoking.

    I’ve been on Apple machines for 17 years (pre-press) and have never used a Windows machine so I can relate to number 1, albeit in a reverse fashion.  I tend to look at the Mac like I do any tool.  If it works, I use it.  If I see someone struggling with a job and can suggest a tool that works, I do it. Looking at it as a tool, I never had a home computer until two years ago (tool = work).

    Off topic.  I registered today for these comments and to say something about the least appealing aspect of this site - whining.  I’m not speaking of the occasionally, upset commenter.  Rather, the chronic, whining of the writer, Beeblebrox.

    I got it: you have issues with Apple and zealot, Apple fanatics. As such, why do you torture yourself, by reading anything on a site with Apple in the name? 

    From the earlier, profile article about you, it would seem that you’re a creative person who could provide some constructive input to Mac/Apple users.

    Carolina had this to say on Oct 03, 2007 Posts: 5
  • The point about hardware is spot on. I’ve been cobbling together parts for PCs for the last 9 years. In that time I’d estimate I’ve spent less than $2000 total. There is no way a Mac can compete with that.

    I have to admit that I do like OSX though. If Apple would open the hardware platform and supported more options I’d be really tempted. I’m not optimistic it will ever happen though because I’m sure the margins are too good using their hardware exclusively.

    Another point to consider is all the free software out there for PCs compared to Mac.

    EnginBlue had this to say on Oct 03, 2007 Posts: 1
  • “As such, why do you torture yourself, by reading anything on a site with Apple in the name?”

    Ultimately, I like Apple products and like to keep up with tech news and opinion.  There are a few contributors and commentors on this site whose opinion I appreciate and look forward to reading.

    And call it a weakness, but I can’t sit by while misinformation and hypocrisy fly around this site.  I think Apple would be better off WITHOUT these loyal sycophants.

    That said, I seriously doubt that were my exact same comments directed at Windows zealots or MS you’d have singled me out.  I realize that “whining” is in the eye of the beer-holder, but I’d take your reproach a little more seriously if you didn’t exclude the pervasive whining of the Mac zealots on this and every other Apple fan site - mostly directed at MS or people who don’t absolutely flip over everything Apple.  But not only did you not include them, you specifically EXCLUDED them.  As such, I file your comment under T, where it belongs.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 03, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • “I have to admit that I do like OSX though. If Apple would open the hardware platform and supported more options I’d be really tempted.”

    At this point, all hope of this happening is gone until Jobs leaves.  The word “open” has clearly been ripped from his dictionary and strapped to the bottom of his executive toilet.

    I think it would ultimately benefit them to compete in this space.  I know many people who would jump onto the Mac train or own more of them if they supported open hardware.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 03, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • I can tell you the main reason most people don’t switch.  They have no compelling reason to do so.  I know, because I’m one of them.

    You can talk a lot about which is better, which is more reliable, which is easier to use, which costs less, which has fewer hardware problems. 

    I even took the plunge and bought a dual G5 a couple years ago.  I tried, honestly.  Some things worked better, but a lot of things were just different—neither good nor bad, just uncomfortable.  After the first couple of months, the G5 became a fileserver.  Since I got a linux-based NAS box about 6 months ago, the G5 has been cold.

    The “killer app” that would get me to switch is virtualization.  But you’d first have to convince me that OSX offers a better virtualizaiton environment than VMWare ESX, plus game developers would have to support their products running in VMs.

    Once that happens, then all you have to do is convince me to use a non-open semi-unix like OSX and not Linux.

    grayaj had this to say on Oct 03, 2007 Posts: 1
  • I’ll give you #3 and MAYBE #8 at times, but the rest can be chalked up to #1… PURE IGNORANCE!  I’m just saying.

    Sent from the best toy EVER.

    mrdibs had this to say on Oct 03, 2007 Posts: 1
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