Cyberclinic: Macs can now run Windows, so why buy a PC?

Now that you can install Windows on a new Macintosh with relative ease, why would any self-respecting computer user choose to buy a PC?

A year ago, you'd have donned an extra layer of protective clothing before answering this question. The dreary Mac vs PC debate rumbled on for so long, with the two sides so firmly entrenched and utterly opposed, that insurance companies would refuse to touch anyone attempting mediation. Then, earlier this year, Apple lobbed an unexpected grenade in the form of Boot Camp, a technology - albeit unsupported - which allows Windows XP to boot up on the new Intel-based Macs: simply hold down a key at start-up to choose between Windows and Mac OS X. Mac fanatics were horrified at such betrayal, but faced with the alternative of ditching their beloved Macs, they inevitably came around to Apple's way of thinking.

The ability to run alien system software on your computer isn't a new thing. Emulation has been around for years, enabling you to run old Sinclair software on your PC, or Windows software on your Mac, but it was always more of a neat trick than a serious solution; the software would be merely usable at best, and crashing constantly at worst. But, as processors speed up, emulation becomes more realistic. PearPC allows you to run OS X on a PC, and Parallels Desktop is mounting a challenge to Boot Camp by giving the option of running Windows applications on a Mac without having to restart the machine first.

"Emulation is perfect for occasional use of particular applications," writes Mark Anderson, "and you're getting an officially supported set-up, which you don't get with Boot Camp." (Both solutions, of course, require you to purchase a copy of Windows.) Parallels recently claimed that they've made it easier to install Windows on a Mac than on a PC, and some magazines argue that certain Windows software packages now run faster on a Mac. Both claims have been fiercely contested by a few dissenters; the majority of us don't particularly care.

Boot Camp is the culmination of many years of reluctant acknowledgments from Apple that Macs and PCs need to be able to work together. Today, most new computers coming off the production lines are virtually identical - Intel makes the processor chips, Fujitsu makes the hard drives - and the choice is boiling down to logos and price. "Apple produces a very focused range of computers," writes Paul Waite, "two laptops, three desktops - so if you want a lower-spec computer for a lower price, a PC is the way to go." The best reason given for buying a PC, however, came from a contributor to during a recent, and otherwise tedious, debate: "To safely run my daughter's insulin pump using a Windows-only application, in order to keep her alive." There's certainly no arguing with that.

Diagnosis required

Next week's question comes from Sara Bailey:

"Are the hours spent gazing at Google Earth currently the biggest threat to productivity in the workplace?" Any comments, and new questions for the Cyberclinic, should be e-mailed to

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'