8 Reasons Windows Users DO Switch to Mac

by Steven Leigh Oct 09, 2007

If you made it through my first article, entitled “8 Reasons Windows Users Don’t Switch,” you may be a little annoyed with me by now. I admit the article certainly had a negative tone, and that was the focus. But now, we can focus on what IS working to get Windows users to switch to Mac.

As I mentioned before, I am a new “switcher,” having been a Windows user all my computing life, and had very negative opinions of the Mac. Experiences with earlier models (pre-OS X) had given me a very bad impression, and I had not tried a Mac in many years. The good news is that if Apple and its fans converted me, they can likely convert anyone. So without further ado, let’s get to the reasons Windows users are switching.

1. iPod/iPhone
The statistics tell us that the majority of iPod users are Windows users, and with 90% market share for Windows, this isn’t surprising. There is often mention of the “halo effect” of the iPod, and I used to scoff at the idea, but now I think there is a lot of truth to it. I bought an iPod over a year ago because it was the best music player out there. At the time, I didn’t want to use iTunes because I didn’t like it, and I tried numerous other options until I came to the conclusion that nothing integrates as well with the iPod as iTunes. I reluctantly gave in to iTunes and started using it full time. After a while, I started to get used to the way it worked. In fact, I started to LOVE the way it worked. I started to wonder why more programs didn’t work this way. It took me a while to realize that most programs on a Mac do work this way, and by that point, there was no turning back, it was inevitable. Now that the tech world is going nuts over the iPhone, we can only expect more and more Windows users to come to the same conclusion I did.

2. Apple Stores
I started visiting the Apple store in my city looking for iPod accessories. I didn’t like Apple, and I didn’t like Macs, but I was already in the mall, so why not go look around, right? Of course, occasional visits turned into frequent visits, and before long I was in the store to check my email, do some web surfing, or just kill time while my wife was shopping. Even though I was resisting it, I was impressed by how fast and easy to use the Macs were. The stores are extremely inviting, and the employees seem to strike that perfect balance between giving you your space and helping when needed. When combined with the support, the classes, and even the children’s activities, it’s hard not to be won over by these wonderful stores, even if you start out as a cranky Windows know-it-all like I did.

3. The Ads
I know, I complained about the “Get A Mac” ads in my other article, and I still think some of the ads have a negative effect on savvy Windows users. But most of the ads are very well done, and extol the virtues of the Mac experience perfectly. John Hodgman (the PC guy) is such a talented actor that he manages to be lovable while at the same time a little creepy, making you want to disassociate yourself with him. Even though I complained about these ads, they played a major part in my switch to Macs. At one point, I remember watching all of them back to back on the Apple site, and by the end, I was having a hard time remembering why I loved Windows so much. These aren’t the only ads that work, of course. Apple has always had a lot of style, and that style extends to their advertising campaigns. No one can create that feeling of “gear lust” the way Apple can.

4. Mac Users
Yes, Mac users appear on both my lists. While some Mac users drive Windows users away in droves with their zealotry, the smart ones are slowly and quietly converting their family, their friends, and everyone they meet to Macs. There is no magical formula but what works best is leading by example. Don’t ramble on and on to someone about how great iLife is, write them a song in Garageband, or print a photobook for them as a gift. Don’t criticize their choice of Windows, but instead show them how much quicker and easier you can accomplish the same tasks they do every day. As I stated before, one of my big reasons for switching is that I got to play with a friend’s Macbook quietly on my own, while he patiently answered any questions I asked. This is often the experience at an Apple store as well. If you have questions, they get answered, and if you would rather explore on your own, they don’t push.

5. Macbooks and Macbook Pros
Statistics are showing that Macs comprise about 5% of the overall computer market share, while they comprise about 17% of laptos sold. Why, you may ask? I mentioned in my previous article that the inability to upgrade Macs is often an issue with Windows users, but with laptops, we have a unique situation. When replacing a laptop there are no parts to re-use, and even Windows users are forced to buy a whole new system. In addition, Macbooks and Macbook Pros are very competitively priced right now, and in many cases, are cheaper than a similarly equipped PC laptop. Combined with the fact that Macs can now run Windows, there is almost no reason NOT to buy a Macbook or Macbook Pro if you’re in the market for a laptop. After all, you get the best of both worlds. You get one of the best-looking, best-performing laptops in the marketplace, with the ability to run virtually any operating system you wish (including Linux). You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

6. Vista
I said last time that Windows Vista is the best operating system Microsoft has ever developed, and it’s true—almost.  It has a great interface, fixes many major problems that have been around for years, and is generally a great upgrade. BUT when you factor in the viruses, the spyware, the fact that Microsoft wants to control everything you do, limited hardware support, and lack of (useful) bundled software, Vista doesn’t look so spiffy.  Even though I like it a lot, there is no question that Vista is a total flop, and though I would have liked to use it, the compatibility issues are still numerous, and drivers are not showing up. I get the impression that many users were waiting to see what Vista would be like before they decided to switch. Once they saw it was more of the same, there was a big surge in Mac sales. Even those who liked Vista initially have had to admit that it’s not going to be usable anytime soon. (Stay tuned, I plan to write a thorough rundown of why I believe Vista failed in a future column.)

7. Design
I don’t have to tell anyone how great Apple’s designs are. Macbooks and Macbook Pros are a thing of beauty. iMacs are now better looking than ever. Even the new iPod Nano, which looked stubby and ugly in early photos, turned out to be much better than anyone anticipated. Apple not only knows how to design their products, they know how to sell you on the design. When you walk into an Apple store, you don’t see a bunch of beige and black computers stacked tightly next to each other. You see a spacious, open layout with some slick-looking computers inviting you to play around. The television ads are no different. They highlight the products themselves as much the software they run. I think Windows users are starting to realize that good design in hardware and software is worthwhile, and we’re setting aside our beige boxes for something a little more elegant.

8. Security
Macs don’t get viruses. Now don’t misquote me. I didn’t say Macs CAN’T get viruses, but so far, they just don’t. I always love the looks I get when I say this to a Windows user who knows nothing about Macs. Their eyes glaze over as they imagine something unimaginable. Viruses, spyware, and all the other junk are such a way of life for Windows users that they assume it’s just the nature of computers. This may change in the future as Macs gain more market share, making them more of a target for viruses and spyware, but for now, there is no need to run any additional security software on a Mac, and that’s just a good feeling.

Apple is doing a fantastic job of showing off its products and creating a welcoming community to draw in new Mac users. I can only see continued growth for Macs in the future. If Apple and its users can manage to draw a die-hard Windows user like myself out of his comfort zone, they have really accomplished something, and I have to say that I’m so glad they did. While there are always things that could be changed, I have to reiterate the fact that a Mac running OS X is the best computing system in the world right now, and I hope that Windows users give Macs an unbiased chance to show them what they’ve been missing.


  • Thanks for an excellent article.  I’ve literally grown up with Windows, and still use a PC, but my next computer will definitely be an Apple.

    I especially agreed with your first two points.  Once iTunes became available for Windows, I started using an iPod and it’s been a great experience.  I held out against the iPhone until the price drop, but then I couldn’t resist any longer—it’s amazing how easy it is to use—and that has definitely made me want to repeat the experience on my next computer.

    I live near the Fifth Avenue store in New York City, and it’s a great place.  Even when it’s crowded (and on weekends, especially after the new iPods came out, it’s really crowded), its a pleasure to be there, and Apple does everything it can to make the shopping experience as good as possible.  I recently took a friend there to see the new Nanos, and he immediately started smiling—it’s just fun to be there.

    Slyboots had this to say on Oct 09, 2007 Posts: 1
  • Windows 2000 was the marketing name for Windows NT 5.0. Windows XP was the marketing name for Windows NT 5.1. Windows Vista is the marketing name for Windows 6.0. That’s why they are referring to the next version as Windows Seven.

    Vista really is [the latest release of] the best operating system that Microsoft has ever produced. Sad for Microsoft, lucky for Apple.

    Hugmup had this to say on Oct 09, 2007 Posts: 40
  • “Vista is great, it’s no that good,I like it, it’s a total flop, I would have liked to use it, it’s unusable.” Wha?

    sensical had this to say on Oct 09, 2007 Posts: 4
  • 3, Gear lust: that only became true when Jobs returned as he got the engineers to focus. They really have that nailed which is why they’re doing so well currently.

    Maybe it’s 7: Design, but I would have thought more of a comment on OS usability would be in order.

    I’m surprised that you said Vista is missing drivers from 3rd parties. I read elsewhere that at this point they’re mostly there. Some (most?) of the delay can be firmly planted on the horrid DRM.

    From my Vista Home Basic experience, I found the following: veeeery buggy; the cancel/allow authorization thingie is horribly annoying; the number of times the entire display went black then blinked back on was pathetic; it’s SLOW to resume from hibernate or suspend though hibernate might be faster than XP. Actually, the login seems the slowest part. Having 15(?) versions of an OS is a joke. Just seems a way to gouge users.

    We bought VHB on a $350 Toshiba to get the absolute cheapest thing possible. It’s function is to record and play square dances (using a Mac would be a tragic waste) and nothing else. It only has a “Celery” processor at 1.2G and 512M ram w/ 80G HD. (Can’t remember much else.)

    I’m an immense fan of the Macintosh though I could write a (somewhat short) list of things that still bug me. The list for XP is MUCH larger. Enormous and still growing. Haven’t used VHB enough to make a real list.

    pecosbill had this to say on Oct 09, 2007 Posts: 12
  • Oh, forgot to add: I love honest, accurate discussions. What annoys me is when people use FUD or outright falsehoods to blast anything.

    pecosbill had this to say on Oct 09, 2007 Posts: 12
  • You wanna know why I like Mac’s? Put your cursor over the following word: “moot”, then hold down Control+Command+D

    Now THAT is great, doncha think?

    Oh, and that darn Windows Startup Chime needs to change, and the Mac’s could too.

    Zavigny had this to say on Oct 09, 2007 Posts: 2
  • Nice article!

    Many of your comments fit my situation and reasons for switching from Windows.. and from Apple.. I’ve been running Linux for several years and loving it.

    take a look at http://www.distrowatch.com to see some choices - if you’re into experimenting.

    You can also get full functionality with modern software features out of an old Mac or Windows machine “too antique to use anymore” - save the environment a little.

    jvin248 had this to say on Oct 09, 2007 Posts: 1
  • Very interesting article but I wonder why the mac users would want to attract more windows users ?

    To get a market share that attracts malware ?

    To eliminate the competition that pushed Apple to do better products ?

    No, seriously aside from being able to work on a Mac at my workplace, I have no idea wink

    dbregeon had this to say on Oct 09, 2007 Posts: 2
  • You overstate the virus and spyware problem. Not because it doesn’t happen, but it does not happen typically. No one I know is bugged by this problem. Everyone I know are running Windows successfully. This problem is repeated way too much to be taken seriously. I haven’t encounted a virus since Windows 98. That’s a long time ago.

    I do visit the Apple Stores, but there’s no admission ticket or secret handshake. Apples make great products, but there’s an important reason that I’m not biting. Apple’s software is so intrusive (iTunes and Quicktime) that I turn them off. Apple’s hardware is so closed that you can’t change the batteries yourself in an iPod or change the memory, video card, or hard drive.

    You need to continue your series. How about “8 reasons Mac Users switch to Windows”? Yeah, it happened to me.

    TechGuy2 had this to say on Oct 09, 2007 Posts: 12
  • Apple’s software is so intrusive (iTunes and Quicktime) that I turn them off.

    I strongly agree Apple’s Windows software should be less intrusive, with its helper apps and system tray icons and whatnot.

    OTOH, Bonjour for windows is an awesome proposition: Just Works territory indeed.

    Benji had this to say on Oct 10, 2007 Posts: 927
  • Very interesting article but I wonder why the mac users would want to attract more windows users ?
    To get a market share that attracts malware ?
    To eliminate the competition that pushed Apple to do better products ?

    To share something they enjoy?

    Benji had this to say on Oct 10, 2007 Posts: 927
  • Steven Leigh;

    Nicely and tastefully done!

    I “switched” to Macs back in 1993 and used them exclusively at home ever since. Meanwhile, I jumped on the Microsoft Computer Systems Engineering training track for a few years, until I decided to jump off and establish a way for “switchers” to move to Macs by publishing macCompanion magazine over 5 years ago. We never seem to run out of things to write about.  http://www.maccompanion.com

    Robert Pritchett had this to say on Oct 10, 2007 Posts: 25
  • Biggest reason of all?


    We all know people who have used Macs for years and never created a convert. For reasons that aren’t clear, long time Mac Heads can’t do it. Recent converts can.

    I switched back to Macs in ‘03 and converted dozens of my friends My brother has been using Macs exclusively for 20 years, and he’s got almost no converts to his credit.

    Airport had this to say on Oct 10, 2007 Posts: 1
  • “Right, so, are you running anti-virus and spyware programs, constantly updating them, and buying the latest version every year?”

    No. Buying once, using a subscription service, and letting the program run itself.

    I’ve also grown confortable with Windows firewall so I decided to turn off my Anti-Virus program’s firewall.

    I also don’t do scanning as frequently as I did in the past. It picks up ZERO anti-virus programs and some spyware (typically internet cookies), but nothing that I can call serious, damaging, or persistent.

    In a jam, I can always use Systems Restore. Quite nifty… no wonder Norton is so steamed. Windows is getting much much better. Soon, in the very near future, I may skip the purchase of an Anti-Virus program.

    TechGuy2 had this to say on Oct 10, 2007 Posts: 12
  • Typo:  I also don’t do scanning as frequently as I did in the past. It picks up ZERO VIRUS programs and some spyware (typically internet cookies), but nothing that I can call serious, damaging, or persistent.

    TechGuy2 had this to say on Oct 10, 2007 Posts: 12
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