Mac vs. PC
By Karie Cross
Our capitalist society loves a healthy competition. Debates over the respective merits of top brands have raged for years, including Coke vs. Pepsi, Target vs. Wal-Mart, Equal vs. Splenda and CNN vs. FOX News.
Enter one of the most hotly contested debates of our connected generation: Mac vs. PC. Apple's Mac ads portray societal stereotypes in a humorous but accurate way. A 20-something, blue jeans-wearing Mac is compared to a balding, stuffy, earth tone-clad PC.
But are the stereotypes true? Do millennials really prefer Macs while baby boomers are stuck in a PC rut?
According to a recent survey of students and faculty, preference for a Mac or PC has very little to do with generation and everything to do with intended usage and familiarity. Most faculty members and students who use PCs do so because they are used to them.
Dr. Michael Claxton's love for his familiar PC was so vehement that he published an obituary in The Bison upon the death of his technological companion of 14 years. The ever-loyal assistant English professor wrote, "She survived to witness a host of technological changes — the Internet, e-mail, Wikipedia, eBay, YouTube and eHarmony — but she stuck with old-fashioned applications like word processing." In his PC's own words, "Better step aside and let the young folks learn all this."
Dr. Keith Schramm, associate professor of chemistry; Dr. Marguerite Cronk, associate professor of business; and Dr. Deveryle James, assistant professor of English; are also PC users. Comments James, "Although many will disagree with me, it has been my experience that the Mac is not as user-friendly as the PC."
Adrienne Barnes, a senior Spanish and international studies major from Polson, Mont., is one such PC user who disagrees. Says Barnes, "I currently use a PC, but I am growing increasingly disgusted with the never-ending problems. Consequently, I'm considering giving a Mac a try to see if it really is better."
Senior Ariana Homan-Cruz, a Spanish and mathematics major and computer science minor from San Antonio, Texas, exclusively uses the PC because she's a programmer. She explains, "Visual Studios is one of the rare good Microsoft products."
Senior political science major Chris McNeal of Yuba City, Calif., used a PC until midway through college, but now he believes Macs are better. "The appearance is sleeker, and the experience is more enjoyable," he says.
Junior Chris Berry, public relations major from Memphis, Tenn., appreciates Macs for their creative capabilities. Berry says, "Out of the box, Macs are a beautiful tool for writing, designing, media editing and any other creative work."
But do faculty members, representing an older generation, also appreciate Macs? Dr. Jeff Hopper, dean of the Honors College and International Programs, and Dr. Cynthia Carrell and Chuck Hicks, both associate professors of music, use both Macs and PCs. Carrell considers herself "bilingual" and uses different machines for different tasks. Hicks uses Macs for big projects but relies on PCs while traveling. Hopper says, "I normally use a PC and am doing so right now. But when I want good graphics or to have students think I'm cool, I use a Mac."
Some faculty exclusively use Macs because of their specific capabilities. Dr. Fleming Bell, associate professor of Spanish, says, "Typing in European languages is much easier with a Mac. PCs are too Anglo centric to be very user-friendly." Daniel Adams, a graphic design professor, says, "More than 90 percent of all graphic design in the world is created on Macs, so that is what we teach."
Senior missions major Kacy Meadows from Eagle, Idaho, is a Mac user because of the "ease of use, lack of problems, and simplicity of the operating system."
David Manes, a senior political science major from Pittsburgh, Pa., loves his new Macbook. "It is incredibly easy to use and intuitive with simple tasks that take other laptops a long time," he says.
Complicating the issue, Apple recently began using Intel chips that are used in most PCs. Dr. Mike James, chair of the College of Communication, notes that the "differences between the platforms are becoming fuzzy."
Dr. Tim Baird, chair of the computer science department, agrees, stating that Macs and PCs are basically "the same under the hood." In spite of similarities between the brands, he says, "People get polarized with brand loyalty to one or the other."
Does Harding's campus favor one brand over the other? Slightly more faculty members prefer PCs to Macs, slightly more students favor Macs over PCs, and many users appreciate both brands. Thus, the debate continues.