Apple Mac vs Windows

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With the incredible popularity of the iPod, and software such as iTunes and the iTunes Music Store becoming market leaders it seems that Apple, the company behind all this is reaching newfound levels of success, and demand for their own brand of computers and operating system (Mac OS) has never been higher... But not at RMGS...
Last year when the new music block opened, the Music Department ditched their Apples in favour of Dell computers running Windows XP and now we have learnt that the Art Department may be about to follow suit.

Currently Art has quite a few Apple computers, many of which are piled up and rarely used, one person we spoke to commented "its criminal that such excellent computers are being allowed to rot", but are they lying discarded because they are Apples, or because of a reluctance from Art to embrace the possibilities of computer-aided design?

Art has most certainly made full use of its computers in the past, Mr Lydon was a keen Mac user and oversaw the introduction of computers into art with open arms. Art was in fact the first department to run a wireless network, and amongst the first to request an interactive whiteboard (although they still haven't received one). So what has changed to allow these computers to now lay unused? The computers are still there, the software is still there, only the staff have changed.

But what has this got to do with Windows? Well, the plan as we understand it is to replace Art?s Apples with Dell machines running Windows XP?like the rest of the school. On the face of it, this would seem a good idea, after all consistency can help both with teaching and learning ICT skills, but we spoke to one expert on Apples and they disagreed...

OM: In your opinion, what makes Apple computers especially suited to Art and Music applications within school?

Expert: they have long been associated with the creative industries, and most graphics houses and music studios use Macs exclusively. the main reasons for art use tend to revolve around the fact that (a) Apple created desktop publishing with the LaserWriter printer and their DTP package, and (b) Macs have a hugely complex screen setup to ensure what you see on the screen is exactly what comes out of the printer.

OM: That certainly sounds useful, but how does that compare to a Windows environment, provided by say the Dell computers we have at school?

Expert: Macs have an entirely different user experience to windows. the emphasis is on letting the user do what they want and helping them with it, where windows has a tendency to badger with popups. A dell computer will also have low-end graphics and sound cards, where Macs have long been associated with using the best products available. case in point - the (now-replaced) iBook G4 had a dedicated ATI graphics card, and a superiorly designed sound setup.

OM: Clearly the Apple OS does look and feel different to the Windows environment, would that not be a problem for students to move between the two systems where Art and Music used Mac but other subjects including ICT prefer a Windows system?

Expert: i would argue that students should be given as broad an overview of OSs as possible - so they should be using Windows, Mac OS X AND Linux on a regular basis. This will put them in the best position to make an informed choice on what they do or do not wish to use, and will give them more skills for use in the workplace or at university.

OM: Of course gaining such experience is of no doubt important, but presumably it requires teachers to be well trained in both environments in order to teach students to migrate between the two.

Expert: three... let's not forget the open source efforts. Yes, teachers will need more training, but they should be welcoming that Everyone needs to learn to think a little, and choose the platform they like, not follow like sheep.

OM: Music have already ditched Apples, and Art we hear is soon to follow, do you fear this will impact the use of IT within these subjects by limiting the power and effectiveness of the computers?

Expert: yes. i do worry about that. music not so much, as there is good MIDI software for Windows and the music department have the most powerful computers in the school aside from servers, but art will struggle without 1.8 gamma displays (Mac-speak, there) and (if it turns out to be so) sub-standard computers without enough RAM or processor power. I also worry about the logistics of storing 70MB PhotoShop files on the main school network as opposed to a dedicated art network.

OM: But, should it not be the personal choice of the current Art teachers that decides the systems they use, not the industry-recommended systems?

Expert: if the art teachers object to Macs, then that's fine. it's their choice. but i think several still use iBooks as their laptops. And you have to think of the students who will go out into the publishing industry not having a clue about how to work the industry standard.

OM: You certainly make a good point there. After all, what's the point of teaching something that isn't used in "The Real World" so to speak?

Expert: Macs are definitely used in the real world as well as art design/music.

With this in mind we do have to ask why are Art moving from Apple to Windows? One source told us it was because Adobe PhotoShop Elements, one of the main pieces of software used on the computers will no longer be available for Apple. This however is wrong, a quick visit to Adobe?s website tells us that, packages such as Photoshop are aimed at Apple first, and Windows second because of the use of Apples in professional design environments.

If the Art Department are unwilling to embrace ICT within art, surely we should at least maintain the computers better suited for the job, rather than wasting more money setting up less adequate computers only to be left unused as well?