WINDOWS OR MAC?

The start button returns in Windows 9.

The start button returns.

A preview of the new Windows 9 operating system will be shown all over the known universe this Fall. The scuttlebutt is it will correct the mess known as Windows 8; computer users will no longer be forced to look at a screen meant for tablet users. (Yep, that’s what it was designed for.)

The final product won’t be out until Spring of 2015. (And we have found that all “new release” dates change frequently.) So if you want to buy a new computer now, should you go with Windows or Mac? Most people choose Windows. It’s what they use at work, it’s cheaper and it works with a ton of programs.

But with the new iMac, it’s time to re-think that. The latest version of the 21.5-inch iMac is a nice all-in-one desktop machine. At $1099, it’s $200 less than the average Mac all-in-one. Sure, it has only half the storage space: 500 gigabytes instead of a terabyte. And it’s not quite as fast. But it’s still faster and roomier than the average person needs.

Macs have several selling points but the chief one is stability. Few readers have ever written to us about Mac problems. They’re often quite gushy, almost religiously fervent about Apple. In fact, nearly every reader problem we’ve ever received, and there have been thousands over the years, is about Windows.

We recommend Macs for students going off to college, despite the initial expense. They can keep their Mac for a decade before it feels out of date, so the initial investment pays off in the long run. Besides, that’s what all the other kids will have.

We have an 11-inch MacBook Air. It’s light, fast, has a long battery life and never gives us problems. We take it with us on trips. But Bob grumbles that the screen is hard to read and the keyboard is small and cramped. Worst of all, we can’t use our Windows keyboard shortcuts and don’t have Mac versions of familiar programs like Microsoft Word. Our “Parallels” software lets us run Windows programs on the Mac, but they always run clunky.

Bottom line on which way to go: We have both kinds of computer, but the curious thing is, when we need to get some work done we still use Windows. Why? Don’t really know for sure, but it seems right for work and the other system for play. Visiting kids always like it.

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