August 9, 2009

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Macs Are Better (Because They Suck)

I'm not a Mac user. I have never owned a Mac, and the only device in my possession that was manufactured by Apple was a present; an iPod Nano from my brother.

People constantly tell me that I should buy a Mac. They say the Mac is more stable than Windows. That it is more secure.

I say, yes. I completely agree. Macs very probably are more stable, and they very probably are more secure. I don't need to own a Mac to know that. It's simple statistics.

According to various folk I've known who worked at or with Microsoft over the years, the underlying source of the bulk of reported Windows bugs is third party device drivers. Essentially, device drivers are hosted by the OS. In that sense, they're like Enterprise Java Beans. They are designed to present a specific interface and run inside a container. To do this safely, they must satisfy all the behavioural rules - including rules about concurrency and timing, which is always a bit fiddly to get right - required by the container. And not all 3rd party device drivers satisfy all of the rules all of the time. Every new device driver presents a finite risk to the stability of the OS. The more device drivers your OS supports, the greater the accumulated risk. Put simply, Macs are more stable than Windows because they support far fewer third party devices. Less choice, greater stability.

And of course Macs are more secure than PCs. Far fewer people are trying to attack the security of Macs. Why go to the expense of writing viruses and wotnot for such a niche platform? And also, there are far more ways of attacking a PC because there are far more ways to write code that will run on a PC. Again, with a Mac, less choice means greater security.

Macs aren't more stable and more secure because they're better engineered. The real reason why Macs are more stable and more secure than PCs is because they're less popular and offer less choice to their users.

In other words, Macs are better because, actually, they suck.

Posted 8 years, 10 months ago on August 9, 2009