For my parents: Macbook or Windows 7 lappy?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by stillill, Mar 9, 2010.

  1. stillill macrumors member

    Apr 3, 2008
    Just spent a torrid weekend with my parents who have both recently got iPod Touches. They've both got pretty clunky 5yr old Acer laptops, XP, grinding to a halt each time I tried to tidy up their iTunes libraries, get album art or just clear some space of the HDD.

    I'd like to upgrade them to something a bit more speedy - and EASY to use. They just surf, use iTunes, and organise photos (currently with Picasa).

    Options I guess are Macbooks, or Windows 7 laptop.

    I use Macs, and find them pretty straight-forward for the basics they would use. I've never used Windows 7. Am torn between which upgrade path to take for them. They are pretty computer illiterate, but not totally daft. Price isn't a major consideration if the Macbook is an easy winner. If it's marginal, I'd likely go with the cheaper Windows option.

    The overhead of virus guards etc is a bit of a pain in the neck - does Windows 7 make that easier for non-techy folk to maintain?

    Any one got a recommendation for what an 65yr+ parent would be able to get their head around? The Picasa thing isn't a deal breaker, I assume they'd be able to use iPhoto easy enough.

    Thanks for any advice or similar tales of woe...
  2. reebzor macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2008
    Philadelphia, PA
    I gave my Mom a macbook a couple months ago because her PC was aging and she wanted a laptop that she could take places. It was a little tough for her to get used to, I had to sit down and teach her how to do basic things. Now she loves it. I sent her over to to check out the mac 101 guides and shes become very comfortable with using her macbook. I don't think she'd be able to go back to windows. All in all I'm going to say get the macbook. If they dont fall in love with it, you can sell it and buy a windows laptop to replace it for them.
  3. stonyc macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2005
    Microsoft Security Essentials is actually pretty nice... I like 7 a lot, and MS did a lot to narrow the gap between Win and OS X. But, some things OS X just does a bit better... just one small thing as an example: taking selectable screen shots: OS X = command + shift + 4, highlight and you're done, Win7 = you have to start a separate program to accomplish the same thing. Just my opinion, but to me OS X is still the more intuitive user experience but Win 7 was definitely a significant step in the right direction.

    Is the difference between OS X and Windows (with respect to 7) night and day anymore? No, but the best way for your parents to decide is to probably walk into an Apple store (with you as their guide) and try them out for themselves. Let them decide if the price difference is worth it I guess.
  4. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
  5. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    I built my grandparents (68 and 74 years old) a desktop PC with Windows 7 and they absolutely love it and have no problems with it. Components cost 320€ and it runs W7 flawlessly. Even though OS X is VERY easy to use, they may find it hard if they've never used it. Windows 7 is great OS as well, very simple and fast. I downloaded AVG free for my gparents and it's okay if they just surf (no need for anti-virus actually if you surf on well-known sites). It's very light and easy to use and free.

    I would ask them what they want and maybe show them your Mac as well (how it works etc). Don't push them too much to buy a Mac though. In addition, because they are that old, 13" screen would likely be too small for them so bigger the better IMO. Moreover, if they don't move it a lot, ask if they wanted a desktop e.g. iMac or desktop PC with nice display. My gparents had a crappy laptop and they were getting another one but I asked do they use portability and they don't so I recommended a desktop and they were very happy of it. Grabbed a 23" HP display as well for 150€ and it's perfect.
  6. alent1234 macrumors 603

    Jun 19, 2009
    as someone who's used Windows since 1997, the only way to use it on a PC you buy from a store is to wipe everything, install only the OS from scratch and then the drivers. do not use the standard recovery tools that reinstall the crapware, just a plain Windows OS.

    by itself WIndows & is great. it's only when you buy it on a PC from Dell or HP and it's packaged with crapware does it suck
  7. igucl macrumors 6502a

    Oct 11, 2003
    As far as virus protection goes, the excellent Microsoft Security Essentials is free to download and free to use. It works very well with Win 7, in my experience. It does not slow the system down or annoy the user in any way.

    Also, Win 7 is a very good, mature version of windows. That doesn't mean, however, that it's not still windows. Most of the unnecessary complications and annoyances that have been there from the beginning, are still present.

    I have a friend in her 60s who is new to computing, and she is using a Vista laptop. Well, just about every other week she calls me because of some problem she's having with the laptop. It's always a software issue, and, most of the time, it would not have been an issue if she were using a Mac.

    The thing is, it's easier for a novice user to get into trouble on a PC than on a Mac. When my friend encounters something not behaving the way she wants, and dialog boxes pop up one after the other, she just clicks whichever button will make them go away without reading them. This usually ends up making a mess that I have to fix.

    Another friend and I were recently talking about how it seems that those people who would benefit the most from using a Mac, those who get into trouble on a PC, are the ones most resistant to it. Well, admittedly, it usually comes down to budget. It's just unfortunate, because I believe if they could experience the simplicity and serenity of the Mac, they wouldn't want anything else.

    Of course, you also have to consider whether your parents will need to use any Windows-only software. Bootcamp does provide a solution there, though.
  8. nigameash macrumors 6502

    Dec 6, 2008
    Space: The Final Frontier
    macs are easy to use and they dont crash as much as a pc, also you encounter way less problems on a mac. they ll get used to it soon enough and will love it ;) i got 2 of my friends here at uni to get a mac and they were all pc fans earlier and they love the mac now :)
  9. stillill thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 3, 2008
    Thanks so much for all the thoughtful replies, really really helpful. I think I'll take them into the Apple store as suggested and let them have a play around, and leave them my Macbook for a few weeks, see if it appeals.

    The info about Windows Security Essentials is also very helpful, Windows 7 wouldn't be so much of a leap for them... (though they do REALLY like their iPods, and seem to spend quite a bit on official accessories, they're being sucked right in by Apple!)

    Thanks again
  10. mgridgaway macrumors 6502


    Feb 25, 2006
    I've had my parents set up with several computers. First, an old machine with XP, then a G3 Blue and White with Tiger, and currently a custom build with Vista. I'm particularly proud of their current machine, because with less than $400 dollars in parts, I've built them something that's just as fast as my iMac. I've never had any instability problems, and they adapted (surprisingly) fairly quickly. To be fair, they only use this machine for checking email and surfing the net, but I've used it for other things and have found that it's very solid.

    I wouldn't really suggest buying a Windows machine unless you're planning on doing a fresh install of just 7 though... the junk vendors put on their computers slow things down terribly.
  11. student_trap macrumors 68000


    Mar 14, 2005
    'Ol Smokey, UK
    I gave my parents my old powerbook about 3-4 years ago and it was the best thing I have done. They can fully use the mac (web, itunes, iphoto, word), but could hardly use the PC they had before at all.

    Do remember that depending on their use, it may not be necessary for them to have two brand new machines straight away - you could buy them an old imac or mac mini from ebay for not too much and see how they get on with it.
  12. instaxgirl macrumors 65816


    Mar 11, 2009
    Edinburgh, UK
    My parents finally gave up on their 8/9 year old PC recently (it had finally broken beyond repair) and with a lot of gentle coaching (and whining from my 15 year old sister) they invested in a mac mini.

    My dad used to run Windows and set it up etc. He "knows" computers but he'd never used a mac before. I gave my mum instructions over the phone on how to set up different user accounts and install what they'd need then crossed my fingers.

    I got home and was amazed that they'd worked out the mysteries of Mail and iPhoto all by themselves. My mum even let me teach her iTunes (1 year+ since she got an iPod)

    My parents looooove the mac. If something goes wrong I'm still the one that gets the call, but they more or less have it.
  13. designs216 macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2009
    Down the rabbit hole
    I recommended an iMac w/ TimeCapsule for my wife's father who is in the same boat. It's got that big beautiful screen for the aged eyes and the Mac pretty much maintains itself. He can learn and explore all he wants and if he really screws something up, I can restore it from the automatic backup.
  14. Becordial macrumors 6502

    Mar 8, 2009
    This is a good point. But how do you install only the OS if all you get in the box is a standard recovery disk (or nothing at all)? Most of the time the recovery discs give no real control over what it will install.

    To the OP, I'm deliberating the same thing with my parents and it's not easy to know whether they'll learn the new environment, but there's a good chance that they will after a few weeks, and a bit of hand holding. One thing I did for one switcher was to make the new Mac look as much as possible like their WinXP machine in terms of software and desktop folders and so. Once they saw the folders and found that Firefox and Excel were on their new Mac they new it was gonna be allright...
  15. IntelliUser macrumors 6502

    Nov 1, 2009
    Why does it matter?
    iTunes runs like crap under Windows. No matter how powerful the laptop you'll chose, using iTunes will be a big pain.

    A free antivirus will never provide full protection. And even a paid antivirus will have trouble with malware. Your parents aren't geeks of course, and there's nothing stopping malware from sneaking in their web surfing and infecting their computers. Even if you don't get infect, be sure that Windows will find a way to screw itself up. Either a registry problem, a driver issue or simply a Windows Update gone wrong.

    The Mac is definitely the best choice. It has actually been designed to be easy to use, as opposed to Windows, which is just a bloated mass of eye candy over a mountain-sized pile of issues.
    Furthermore, the integration between the applications will make everything easier.

    Buy them a Mac. Why even risk buying a PC and regretting it?
  16. Winni macrumors 68040


    Oct 15, 2008

    An iPod is not a Mac. A Mac is a real computer and can as easily be trashed by an inexperienced user as a Windows PC. Just watch what my father-in-law does to its Mini when I leave him alone with it for a week and you'll know what I'm talking about. He actually has a harder time killing a Vista installation.

    Another poster said it already and he was absolutely right: When you buy a new computer, the first thing to do is to format the hard disk and make a clean installation of everything yourself. The difference is that I'm talking about computers in general here, not just Windows machines. I also do that with Macs and Linux boxes.

    A clean installation of Windows 7 is also a great and easy to use computing platform and also provides a very friendly user experience. It certainly supports more soft- and hardware than Snow Leopard. And Microsoft doesn't force you to buy the hardware exclusively from them.
  17. healeydave macrumors regular

    Jan 12, 2008
    Being a Mac user yourself, I'm surprised you even had to ask the question :)

    Being an old git who started out with Microsoft from the very beginning but eventually got fed up with the bloatware that is today's Windows, I am now solely Mac. I have had the displeasure of still installing Win7 etc so I'm not out of touch.

    I have supported friends and members of my family on windows platforms for many years and I have started to diplomatically shun supporting windows any more and encouraged the same people to move to OSX. A few have taken my advice so far and after setting them up and explaining the differences, from a support point of view, I hardly ever hear from those people any more!.

    This is no exaggeration, I wouldn't think twice about this decision, Mac all the way, and as the the limp "Apple tax" excuse that some people still try to bound about, your quality of life and the second hand value of Apple kit will more than make up for any slight difference in the up-front costs!!
  18. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    Get a mac. You will be glad you did.

    I bought my parents and sister each macs because I was always sick of fixing their machines when I came home.

    Now, its two years later and I've never had to touch either machine. My Dad actually USES a computer now since the mac is much more user friendly.

    I'm not one of the people charmed by windows 7. It looks just like vista, runs better though, but its still windows. Nothing special about it. Aside from it finally automatically finding your drivers its still just a glossy xp shell.
  19. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    I would go PC all the way. Windows 7 is amazing, it's familiar, and in my opinion, on par with 10.5

    I don't know what type of crapware the OEM's install these days, but my father's office buys Dell Vistro machines which come without crapware preinstalled, and we've never once had a problem with any of them. Can you find a dell or an HP without crapware preinstalled? I'm sure if you call them up and talk to someone you can find one.

    The other important thing, is don't buy a crap brand, as you'll get a crap experience. Asus makes cheep laptops, and they run windows like crap.

    Acer, midrange Dell's, HP's, etc, are all much better at running windows, because they use higher quality components (well, actually it's more like the lack of low-end components like in Asus computers) so they appear to run better, since the drivers are better.

    And definitely install Microsoft Security Essentials. It's the best anti-virus I've ever used, especially when you consider the price.
  20. yojitani macrumors 68000


    Apr 28, 2005
    An octopus's garden
    All I can add to this is that my mother, who is almost computer illiterate enough to ask about the drinks tray, used a pc for years (windows 98 until 2007) and used to drive me crazy with the problems she had. I persuaded her to get a macbook and, while she still drives me nuts with some of the crazy questions (like not knowing the difference between a web page and a pdf document), the calls have a) been less frequent and b) been easier to resolve. So if you're the support person for your parents, I'd suggest the mac.
  21. student_trap macrumors 68000


    Mar 14, 2005
    'Ol Smokey, UK
  22. stillill thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 3, 2008
    Thanks all, will let you know what I/they decide, need to mull it over and maybe have a go of Windows 7 (just to satisfy self).
  23. Angelo95210 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 7, 2009
    Paris, France
    This Windows Seven sounds really good... If they are used to the PC world I think it's a safe bet.
  24. aussie.damo macrumors regular

    Nov 20, 2006
    Go with the Mac. I converted my parents to Mac, both are over 60, both came from XP. Best decision ever.

    A learning curve in the beginning, showing them around the new OS, explaining why there's no Start Menu, moving past the "where's the maximise button" type questions.

    End result? Far fewer "support" calls than I used to get. Usually get asked about how to do things, rather than why something isn't working. They've both really grown their skills and are much more confident in trying and playing. They're even on Skype now! They love it so much they bought iPhones a few months back, so 100% Apple-tastic!

    Windows 7 is a nice OS, but it's also a big change from XP. You will need to teach them how to use that, so you may as well teach them the better OS (in my opinion, at least).

    Good luck to you and them!

  25. Cool Runnings macrumors regular

    Feb 24, 2010
    Don't forget that you can in a simple way remote connect to their mac to fix stuff or help them. It's gold with iChat so you could video chat and showing them around at the same time.

    Works in windows too, minus the video chat simultaneously

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