If you use any operating system that doesn't start with a "Microsoft" and end with a "Windows" (and some kind of short letter or number designation), then you have utterly failed in your attempt to keep heathen software elements from besmirching the good name and reputation of your precious PC. And woe unto any who utter the forbidden name of a common Silicon Valley manufacturer of said "different" operating systems around these parts--you can trust me on this one. I learned the hard way .
But let it not be said that I wouldn't rise up to the challenge, see the error of my ways, and accept my restatement into PC-only territory with a bit of grace and/or slice of humble pie. I have even made a great sacrifice to prove my noble intentions:
I have come back to you now, as the great Gandalf would say, and I am ready to repeal anything positive I had ever erroneously suggested about non-Windows operating systems. Let this column be the Smoke Monster that forever keeps unwanted products off of my island PC.
As far as I'm concerned, Steve Jobs is the Man in Black; Apple and OSX are lost causes. Based on the platform alone, I can think of five excellent reasons why you should never, ever, ever consider letting any bit of the Apple experience ruin the software sanctity of your Windows system.
When you go to purchase a Windows PC, you have a wealth of options available--different configurations and different systems rain down from retail and online sites like a small hurricane of hardware. And if you don't like what you're looking at, you can always build your own system. So long as your parts and pieces match up on the hardware end, the wonderful Windows operating system will recognize your labor and reward you with functionality.
Apple? Sorry. You can't install OSX on a non-Mac platform, and worse, the only choices you get in terms of the hardware you can use are what Apple itself dictates--and prices.
This one deserves an asterisk by the name, for there are indeed a number of games you can play on OSX. What's the problem? First off, the hardware of the platform doesn't exactly lend itself to next-generation gaming. Or, to put it another way, Macs fail the Crysis test. They might be able to run the game (virtualized), but there's no way you're going to get the jacked-up graphical quality that you could otherwise squeeze (or upgrade) out of a PC. Speaking of, good luck getting that dual-GPU card you just bought to wedge into your... iMac.
Let's face it, you can alter the look and feel of Windows in a ton of different ways. And I'm not just talking about tweaking colors or moving toolbars around in the default GUI. Awesome little applications like Rainmeter and Samurize allow you to literally transform the very nature of your desktop into a full-fledged, geek-reporting warehouse of information. The power of the Windows shell is yours to command--leaving your OSX compatriots to spend countless, idle hours watching their icons get bigger and smaller when they run their mouse over them. Some customization, indeed.
Perhaps I should rephrase this to "No development," as there are indeed a number of free or open-source tools for OSX that you can download at a moment's notice. What's the problem? All the better ones are for the Windows OS.
Windows and its roughly 92-percent market share is simply a better fit for developers that want to ensure a wide market for their various apps. Don't believe me? Just count how many of the best of our " 32 apps you must have " feature are cross-platform. Or consider this: How long have you been waiting for Steam to grace your OS with its games, Mac fans?
I'm no security maven over here, but I do know this: It doesn't really matter if fewer nefarious folk write attacks for OSX, because a number of exploits still rely on user stupidity as the primary gatekeeper into one's system. But just to keep things fair, here's a quote from security researcher 3ric Johanson (who has to be hardcore, given that he has a freakin' number in his name):
"If you look at the number of published vulnerabilities in software and the number of users and compare Windows versus Mac OS you will discover that Mac OS has far more published vulnerabilities per user than Windows does," said Johanson. "So I think the data pretty much speaks for itself."
David Murphy (@ Acererak) is a technology journalist and former Maximum PC editor. He writes weekly columns about the wide world of open-source as well as weekly roundups of awesome, freebie software.