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Old Jan 29, 2003, 01:16 PM   #1
wilburpan
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Why do we have upgrade anxiety?

Why don't Wintel users have the same anxiety over upgrades that Mac users have?

I got to wondering this after I was looking over the recent comments about the Powermac upgrades along with with the observation about the historic trend to ugrades every 6 months.

Whenever I read other computer related forums, I never come across comments along the lines of "I have just bought a Dell Dimension 8200 and am pretty pissed off at the fact if I had waited until now then I could have got a Dimension 8250 for the same price" or "Just when I was ready to buy, it's a waiting game all over again" after a new notebook release from Sony.

In case you might think that I am exaggerating, I am not completely making these quotes up. They are actual statements from the MacRumors forums with references to Wintel products taking the place of equivalent Apple products.

At work I am using a 2 1/2 year old Dell notebook with Windows and Linux, but I have never agonized over the fact that since I got this machine, the RAM has doubled, processor speeds have tripled, and hard drive storage has quadrupled for the same price that I paid for this machine 2 1/2 years ago. Instead, I usually refer to it as "that piece of crap" and look forward to the day that I can replace it with a nice shiny new Powerbook.

Some thoughts:

1. Even if you are a confirmed Wintel user, it's hard to get excited about upgrades when there are dozens of companies releasing new models of computers all the time. Apple is the only company releasing new computers for OS X, so they are under a brighter spotlight (actually, the only spotlight) when it comes to new product releases.

2. The hardware/software performance ratio may be higher for Wintel machines. Most of the bleeding edge performance issues associated with Wintel machines are in the realm of games, not in everyday activities like email, surfing, and word processing. On the other hand, it seems to me that OS X is more processor intensive than the various flavors of Windows. I can notice differences in OS X performance when comparing Macs from the low end to the high end. This means that an everyday Mac user who surfs the web, writes email, and does word processing will notice improvements in hardware, whereas a Wintel user who does the same things will not notice that much of a difference after a speedbump in Pentium clock speeds.

Comments?
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Old Jan 29, 2003, 01:45 PM   #2
occam
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Lightbulb Four reasons

1. Apple (Motorola) CPU's are dragging, and we're all hotly anticipating the next speed bump or (IBM) overhaul. This issue has been chronic for years, but is coming to a head with the prospect of a 970. This issue is also exacerbated by Apple's marketing efforts of speed comparisons when juxtaposed to the lagging bus speeds of even the fastest mac.s. The PCs do not just have higher clock-speed CPU's (where clock is not everything) but also higher clock-speed buses (where clock speed counts). Again Motorola has not done Apple any favors with its anemic chip upgrades and lack of support for the latest speedy PCI, memory, I/O buses.

2. Apple's upgrade policy has been very intermittent for years (but they finally seem to be releasing machines more rapidly) with releases synchronized to annual events. This year, they're breaking that mold with (first, the PowerBook upgrade in November 2002 and now) the PowerMac upgrade in late January. The old wait-until-MacWorld formula doesn't mean what it used to mean. Nevertheless, the pent-up demand for obvious speed and feature upgrades builds to a peak and then Apple *still* does not release the obvious upgrades (even for over a year sometimes, e.g., PowerBook Ti upgrade was app. 1.5 years "late").

In 2002, they skipped bluetooth altogether even though it was announced with great fanfare in January at MW2002. Finally, in MW2003, bluetooth *starts* showing up. Kind of begs the question of where the rest of the beef is.

Personally, I once was waiting for a no-compromise (CPU, GPU) cube which never materialized, and now await a quite high-speed, no-compromise PowerMac (or fingers crossed reborn cube). I'm also awaiting the new 15" PB to replace my first gen'n Ti PB. Finally, the PowerMacs have been upgraded three times since the introduction of the xserve, and I'm waiting an xserve update (not to mention the imminent (? originally due 2002) xserve RAID release.

3. We all appreciate Apple's design and innovation and sense of direction, so often we *know* what to expect (at minimum). Given a little patience, we wait (anxiously).

4. Finally, I've noticed that Apple does not gradually reduce prices to track product age, e.g., the recent 23" screen price drop from $3500 to $2000. That's a harsh drop for anyone who just purchased. Apple could be much gentler with its customers if it phased its pricing according to product age, providing a good value even in the face of imminent upgrades. Personally, I feel ripped off when I buy full price and then see a serious upgrade or discount. Ok, Apple doesn't provide upgradeable machines either, so that's part of the problem (but perhaps a good tradeoff). I think Apple could do better on this issue.

Ultimately, Apple is just one company, so we get to focus on them. Unfortunately, until they have bigger revenues and market share, they do not have enough resources to constantly revamp their motherboards with incremental updates (the way, as a whole, the PC industry does). So, our predicament is just natural given Apple's situation. Fortunately, their recent upgrades and direction have been awesome.

Let's hope the future upgrades are all at least as worthwhile.
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Old Jan 29, 2003, 09:45 PM   #3
Haberdasher
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Because I don't want to be stuck with a computer that does a half-assed job for double the price of a competitor.

I love my mac, but I only use it for internet, movies, and music. I know you say ONLY, but I'm a gamer at heart.

Sure, sure...I shouldn't buy a mac for games. I DO do other stuff, which is why I like the mac so much. But now it's rediculous, the rate computers upgrade, and the rate I have to pay for a new Pwrmac. I'm just gonna go with a PS2 for my games...

Btw, PC people have just as much upgrade anxiety as mac users.

[/streamofconciousness]

I own a Dual Gig with the works, btw.
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Old Jan 29, 2003, 10:04 PM   #4
Dont Hurt Me
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Quote:
Originally posted by Haberdasher
Because I don't want to be stuck with a computer that does a half-assed job for double the price of a competitor.

I love my mac, but I only use it for internet, movies, and music. I know you say ONLY, but I'm a gamer at heart.

Sure, sure...I shouldn't buy a mac for games. I DO do other stuff, which is why I like the mac so much. But now it's rediculous, the rate computers upgrade, and the rate I have to pay for a new Pwrmac. I'm just gonna go with a PS2 for my games...

Btw, PC people have just as much upgrade anxiety as mac users.

[/streamofconciousness]

I own a Dual Gig with the works, btw.
You got a dual gig and your not gaming on it? not to bust on ps2 but gaming on a pc or Mac is just better then a tv. this is really true if you got a kick butt video card and can crank up the resolution. but upgrade anxiety? why upgrade if motorola isnt taking us anywhere. heck i have a 800 g4 PM and only now they have a 1 gig. thats only 100 mhz per year. Guess ill just keep waiting for a faster imac or the 970 if it shows itself and i agree with most of what occam says but i dont expect to see another cube.
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Old Jan 30, 2003, 01:37 PM   #5
Haberdasher
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dont Hurt Me
You got a dual gig and your not gaming on it?
I game on it all the time...I have WCIII, MOH:AA, Wolfenstein, all the Myths, Tropico, Sims, Max Payne, Starcraft, Jedi Knight II...these are just the ones I can see from sitting at my computer.

My problem is when it comes to timely releases. You know the games which I would like more than any others right now? Splinter Cell, and GTA3. You know when they're coming to the mac? Probably never.

Sure, my mac IS a decent gaming machine. I've got a GeForce 4TI with my new dual gig, 768 mb ram, etc...I don't doubt it can run games well. But for about 200 bucks I can get SO much more. Stated again, I love my mac, and do everything on it, but for a student like me it becomes very uneconomical to invest in a mac for someone like me with upgrade anxiety.

My only hope is the 970! Save us, oh great IBM, you are better than Motorola!
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