So why choose Apple? And why are Mac users so incredibly loyal?
The total number of Mac users worldwide is estimated at 25 million, dwarfed by the hundreds of millions using Windows.
Critics point out that Macs cost more than Windows PCs, have slower processors, run far fewer programs and arent compatible with industry standards.
Technology "experts" periodically predict Apples imminent death.
But Mac users tirelessly combat these perceptions, which arent as black and white as they seem. They maintain that, while Macs may cost more, they usually last longer; that processor speed isnt necessarily the most important feature of a computer; that Macs interact with Windows PCs far better today than they did 10 or even five years ago; that almost any software the average user might need is available for the Mac.
Most Windows users cant figure out the extraordinary affection Mac folks have for their computers; in the Windows world, the prevailing attitudes toward computers tend to be indifference, if not irritation.
While a few bona fide Mac-haters exist in the PC world, the typical owner of a Windows PC considers the Mac a nice-looking computer suited mainly for schoolchildren and artists.
Mac users, on the other hand, consider Microsoft in general, and its Windows product specifically, as an evil that must be fought. To bring a Windows user over to the Mac camp is akin to saving their silicon soul.
What is it about Macs that elicits such sentiments? As a Mac user myself for the past decade, I offer these reasons:
For a platform seemingly so tiny relative to Windows, there are a staggering number of Web sites devoted to the Macintosh -- dozens and dozens.
Some are devoted to general news and commentary, some to rumors, some to troubleshooting, some to games, others to specific types of Macs (yes, theres even a site devoted to the short-lived Cube
The so-called "Mac Web" provides a virtual meeting place to exchange information, to get advice and to vent anger over a range of Mac-related issues.
Many sites sponsor forums where users can ask one another for help or post observations. Im always amazed at the depth of knowledge in these forums. Its often a better way to find an answer than consulting Apples own online Knowledge Base.