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Mad as Hell VI -- Thinking MacTel

Schwartau asks, could Mac fall victim to the same issues as WinTel?

Disgusted by security issues and poor performance, Winn Schwartau makes the switch from Windows to the Mac and details the bumps in the road along the way in his "Mad as Hell" series.

Thinking MacTel. On an airplane, over Montana perhaps?

I read it too, and I knew about it as a rumor months ago. Hell, this is the Internet!


  • 1. I do not hate Windows.
  • 2. I do not hate Intel.
  • 3. No one else for that matter.

I just said that I felt that Mac was more security attuned than WinTel for all sorts of reasons that we are talking about here. One of the main reasons is that the Mac integration of OS, HW and BIOS provides additional security over the open architecture approach of many different vendors attempting to build to a set of standards.

After years of engineering, I subscribe to the philosophy: Simplicity yields security. I also know that some folks have trouble wrapping their brain around this for their particular needs, and I nod agreement in their general direction. [For the gent who said he has been running NT 4.0 for several years: 1) He admitted rebooting regularly to keep things clean. 2) He also subscribes to my theory of simplicity. See upcoming Mad as Hell rant about this exact issue!]

Nonetheless, I am focusing on the needs of Ma&Pa and those corporate enterprise users who demand reliability, a reasonably headache-free experience and perhaps a substantial savings in cost of ownership.

Consider VCRs: Back in the 80s, a battle raged between the technically superior Betamax and the winning, yet inferior, VHS.

Imagine that instead of purchasing a fully integrated VCR with hardware and software all provided, pre-built by GE, Panasonic, Sanyo -- no matter -- imagine if you had to pick hardware and the appropriate software from some sales guy at Best Buy. Now, take all of the pieces you just bought home with you and make your new VCR work.

CD/DVD players today. Same thing. Comparatively low-tech to PCs, but the same premise nonetheless.

Palms, PDA and smart phones are purchased fully integrated yet have limited capability [vis a vis PC]. However, there is a lot of punch for the fruit juice in there. I always liked Windows CE because it gave me reliable, interoperable functionality with the WinTel world. PDAs? Sure, you can add more, but if you just want it to work for what you bought it for, you can.

Now for MacTel.

Some readers have sent me notes: "You are such a schmuck… see what happened?" Others have said that Apple is opening itself to much of the same criticism I level at the WinTel world. "So there, Mr. Smartypants! What do you think of that?" Others, more courteous [I don't play flame games] have asked, "Does this affect your opinion? Did you waste money?"

What I think is this: I don't know for sure, but I have some ideas and a pretty strong prediction.

More Mad as Hell

MacIntosh vs. Windows: Choosing to take a bite of the Apple
Disgusted by security issues and poor performance, Winn Schwartau makes the switch from Windows to the Mac and details the bumps in the road along the way in this exclusive intro to his "Mad as Hell" series.

Mad as Hell archive

I switched to Mac and advocate it for many uses for reasons explained. But real questions raise their head:
  • Running OS X on Intel? The underlying OS has run on x86 for decades. There are no inherent problems there. No magic. I also have to believe OS X has long been ported to x86.

  • Will Apple design it right? I hope so. [Steve] Jobs and Co. have been working on this for years. They have what they claim to be the world's best OS, yada yada yada, and if I were Jobs, I would not want to jeopardize that. He is not stupid. At all.

  • Now Apple will have to support two platforms and two OSes and possibly two suites of apps. Yup. Pain? Yup. Some people get screwed? Probably. Will I? Nah. My G4 laptop is my office, now. What we all care about at the end of the day is interoperability. My Word or PPT: Anyone can read them in most [even Linux] environments. The HW and OS are independent of making file formats interoperable. Not bad guys! Not bad at all. And this is largely Microsoft [for you bashers…]

  • What about old-time users? I don't know Apple's policies on that, but from what I gather, there is a certain arrogance the company exudes and some customers get the shaft. [iPod battery fiasco?] I don't defend or attack Apple. I don't care except that I want good service. So do you. I want good service for you, but there's not a damned thing I can do about that.

What about security? Here are my best guesses.

Apple will tightly integrate the already proven OS to the hardware -- at first. [More later.] If they do this the same way they did the PowerPC and OS X, I would hope and indeed expect them not to screw the pooch. Do it right. Will there be an oops? Sure. Catastrophic? No.

The single vendor integration of HW/SW is still superior to multi-vendor specsmanship and home users turning their boxes into doorstops. I stand by that, even though I still use WinTel for some applications. Mac is not everything and not perfect.

In Mad As Hell Part VII, some absolutely, 100% sure-fire predictions for 2007.

About the author
Winn Schwartau is one of the country's leading experts on information security, infrastructure protection and electronic privacy. Schwartau is president and founder of Interpact Inc., The Security Awareness Company, which develops information security awareness programs for private, public and government organizations.

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