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Mac v Windows Practice

Which one? Why?

Hello, like the majority of practices, we are a Windows-only practice. 

At the time, my key reason for Windows OS is integration with other software like VT, Moneysoft and PM software. Further, using dual monitors, I did not look into whether it would be possible to use dual monitors with Macs. Would it be possible?

In the last 10 years, as you know, cloud software has changed the landscape. I am considering whether as a practice, we should move Mac OS. My reasons:

  • Stability of the system
  • Quality hardware means over the long term, costs would be lower
  • Apple support is excellent 
  • intuitive to use
  • Aesthetics - They are important. Apple does put a lot of thought into this. 


  • Are you a Mac (Apple) only practice? If so, did you still need a windows PC? What problems, if any, did you face? How did you overcome them?
  • As a windows OS system user would you consider moving to Mac OS for your practice?

Wallmart is rolling out Macs to its employees because of lower costs (support costs). 



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06th Nov 2017 09:09

Everything about this question says you've already made the decision to move to Macs. It's all pros and no cons of Macs and doesn't even consider any pros of staying Windows. Even your question about problems with Macs assumes that they are resolvable. (Not "Did you overcome them?" but "HOW did you overcome them?")

So just do it for once. You know that nothing any pro-Windows peopel say is going to change your mind.

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06th Nov 2017 09:35

Personally, I wouldn't use either given the option. Privately, Linux provides everything I need, more securely and stably.

The main problems with Mac from my perspective are the lack of transparency regarding what the underlying OS is actually doing, and the lock in Apple culture, which makes moving away again more difficult.

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By Locutus
06th Nov 2017 10:17

Apple build quality kit, but it sounds like just more upheaval for your practice, just for the sake of it.

I recall there was an issue with tax software, I think last year, when you moved and then a month or two later decided it wasn’t right and moved on to another.

You need to really be certain that Apple will meet all of your needs before you spend £10k on equipment and then decide to move back to Windows PCs 3 months later.

I also think it is likely that you will have to keep Windows running on something like Parallels for at least some of your software, unless you want to severely limit your options entirely to cloud. That means you will have two operating systems to deal with.

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06th Nov 2017 10:31

Of your five key pros for Macs, four of them are wrong. I've never dealt with Apple support so I can't speak to that.

PCs are not inherently unstable, Macs are not inherently more stable, costs would not be lower because Macs are built on broadly the same hardware as PCs and go out of date just as fast.

Systems are intuitive to use if you're familiar with them, Macs are considerably unintuitive for anyone who has exclusively used Windows PCs and aesthetics is an idiotic argument for a professional context but if they really matter you can get a fancy looking box to put any computer you like in.

That's not to say you shouldn't use Macs, I'm sure many do but the argument for using them is, and has been now for ten years or more, whether you want to spend twice as much on your hardware because you buy into marketing. The "facts" about Macs advantages over Windows haven't been true since Windows 7 and OSX came out.

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By Mr_awol
06th Nov 2017 12:40

As more and more products move to cloud based solutions and hosted/virtual servers 'quality of hardware' becomes less relevant.

If you manage to go completely cloud/hosted, then you should be spending a pittance on your kit - it wont need any processing power etc, just needs to connect in.

I wouldn't use macs because they are a pain in the [***] to use when you have spent your entire working life on windows.

I understand that the stability argument is rather outdated.

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06th Nov 2017 12:52

Its a personal choice FT. I was always an apple fan for my personal stuff but always went with PC for work as until recently you could not fully function without it as Sage, payroll or whatever would only run on PC.

I have always been unlucky with laptops as never had one last beyond 2 years before they pack up and never seem to able to e fixed. My wife through a spanner into the works by buying me a Macbook for Christmas which is nearly 2 years old and works as well as it did the day it came out of the box and still gets over 10 hours work on a battery charge.

Although I don't have the tech knowledge of Duggimon I dont have the issues with Apple as I do with windows based stuff and for me they are a more robust system that will last longer than PC, less issues with viruses etc.

So I now use PC when in the office and Macbook when working remotely or at home which both work fine for Taxcalc, Brightpay, Office 365 and Xero.

My office PC will be due for replacement in next 12 months and had considered getting a Mac but would have to consider the cost justification as a second screen is £800 so you could end up at £3000 for the system against £600 for a PC.

As you have staff you should consider there back ground if they are PC users for year they will find the odd things on a apple a massive time drain

(it took me ages the other day working out how to do screen shot for instance) as they have no button on keyboard for it.

Also as you now have you bright shiny new shop front kitting your office out like an Apple shop may look good until someone smashes your back doors and pinches them, people are unlikely to lift your PC's however.

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06th Nov 2017 13:29

My practice is based around Windows machines. However, some time ago I felt I needed to really understand whether this was the right decision for us as a practice. So when my last laptop died, I moved to a MacBook Air.
My conclusions now after about 2 years with this machine:
- Some things have been very painful
1) The outlook functions are much less up to date and I had to lose some things that made life more efficient. This is now gradually being fixed, so not quite as bad as it was.
2) Excel often falls over, requiring a re-boot. Also I think that the selection of cells/areas of a spreadsheet is sometimes affected by a loss of precision using the mousepad that I never found before (I always use mousepads regardless of machine; this is a mac issue, not a mouse issue, if you see what I mean)
2) Although you can use multiple screens, you have to buy very very expensive peripherals to connect stuff up. In general, Apple peripherals are exhorbitant.
3) HMRC spreadsheets that use the ods format, are (in so far as I can tell) impossible to upload from a mac operating system. I have not gone the parallels route, but use the office spare laptop for this. However, it is pretty annoying when I want to do EMI returns etc.
3) Our company valuation software does not work (at all) on a mac.
Somethings are a bit better:
1) The battery life is genuinely good
2) It is very marginally easier to connect up to printers etc
Overall, I will be going straight back to windows machines as soon as I possibly can (afford it!).

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By Matrix
06th Nov 2017 13:39

My desktop is Mac but I don't think you can run an accountancy practice without a PC for desktop software such as VT and Moneysoft. I decided against having two operating systems so have these on a laptop. Also agree with the above that outlook and excel are not as good, also the People's Pension does not work on the Mac and a few other things over the years. Cloud software is faster on the Mac but maybe my PC is clogged up with all the desktop stuff which slows it down.

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06th Nov 2017 15:40

We use a mac and Windows in our practice and have no problems mixing the 2. Every thing is now cloud based so the software issue has gone entirely with the one exception of VT. that does not print well in windows and the check accounts balance button does not work, but as we are moving away from it to taxfiler that problem will be gone later this year.
no opinion of outlook because we would never use it. we use a CRM system so all client jobs are managed from that and it does our emails so they re all linked to the client. that saved hours in searching for emails etc and gives a better client knowledge.
as to Excel I have always found the Mac version more stable than Windows. 5 years ago Bill gates was asked which was the best version of Excel and he said, through gritted teeth I expect, that the Mac version was at that time the best. I guess as the versions are never in sync it depends when you ask the question and what you use it for.
So go for it. the build quality is a valid point, try slinging a windows laptop in the boot of a car for three years of client visits, and then think my 7 year old mac book is just fine

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06th Nov 2017 16:44

I'm really not an expert in this area but for build quality, can't one just buy a better built PC? Pay more get more.

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06th Nov 2017 17:34

I'm with Red Leader on this. If you pay the same on a PC as a Mac, it will last as long or longer.

I don't spend as much as that but I don't go for the cheap options either. I wouldn't even consider changing a laptop or desktop for at least 5 years and I certainly wouldn't expect it to break in that period. (Obviously failures can happen but they should be the exception).
Plus I use Excel features that I believe are still not available on the Mac version.
So it's PC for me.

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06th Nov 2017 18:11

In other words, as Glennzy says, it's personal choice, you'll never get a general consensus on this.

There's no need to become a Mac practice, as others have done, the next time you need a new laptop or desktop, buy a Mac instead and give it a go.

I'd used PCs for nearly 30 years and then, in 2011, after watching a client open their Mac, do some work and then close down, while my Dell was still booting up, I bought a Macbook Air and, within a few months had become a complete Mac convert. The laptop is still going strong, needed re-booting perhaps 2-3 times and never needed virus app.

If you still need to run desktop Windows software, I'd suggest hosting it, either via a hosted Windows desktop or per application, Hosted desktop UK do both. I don't need to run anything local anymore but still like using Excel from time to time and my Excel for Mac has never let me down.

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to Paul Scholes
06th Nov 2017 23:54

"I'd used PCs for nearly 30 years and then, in 2011, after watching a client open their Mac, do some work and then close down, while my Dell was still booting up"

SSD drive does the job for laptops now. Spent £300 on a Lenovo 14" - boots up in seconds. For a cheap bit of kit as a mobile screen when out and about its great.

This and a new desktop PC (to replace 5 year old laptop which still work fine - but is becoming office spare) will suit me fine.

MACS pah!!!

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By Locutus
to Kent accountant
07th Nov 2017 10:48

My main Windows laptop is a Dell desktop replacement from April 2011 and still going strong.

I replaced the spinning hard drive in it with an SSD in late 2013 and the speed change was amazing.

I have personally never experienced any problems with Windows PCs just dying after a few years - they have all lasted as long as I was prepared to use them for.

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By nrw
07th Nov 2017 08:27

Excel is the only remaining desktop app I use, everything else is in a browser.

Excel on Windows is objectively superior to Excel on Mac. So it's Windows for me.

I have been a Mac user in the past, and far prefer the Windows experience - Windows 10 is beautifully simple IMHO.

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By mrme89
07th Nov 2017 09:29

The only thing you'll regret with an Apple product is the price.

If the price is not an issue, I'd say go for it.

That said, my Dell laptop served me well.

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to mrme89
07th Nov 2017 10:48

Tricky one, imagine the price increase if they had to budget for a reasonable tax liability!

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07th Nov 2017 21:21

Hello, thank you for taking the time to comment. I found the response very helpful. It brought home to me the issues of integration with Mac OS. Also, the learning curve with Mac OS.

We will stay with Windows OS. In February, I will look into buying eye-candy desktops.

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09th Nov 2017 10:25

I've been running almost everything on an iMac for seven or eight years. I think it has paid for itself easily in that a) I haven't suffered the time lost in replacement and b) I haven't suffered the cost of replacement. Granted . . . . . we still use a PC (just one!) for Sage and a couple of other things (that are mired in DOS never mind Windows as far as I can see!) but if/when I see decent online software replacements I'll make the jump once and for all FROM Windows and what a relief that will be! With the greatest respect to everybody . . . . . I think that the OP should not consider the responses of those who do not have experience of both systems. There seems to be a residual bias against Apple products (don't ask me why) and, often, it doesn't seem to be based on anything other than uninformed prejudice.

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09th Nov 2017 10:40

Used to upgrade Windows laptop every 18 months or so; and still be left with watching the dreaded reboot which was took ages.

In May 2013 bought serious MB Pro at £2.6k including Office for Mac, tower, ext keyboard, plus £.8k on Thunderbolt display. About £150 for VMware Fusion and Windows 7 disc. This MB is currently nowhere near its RAM or SSD capacity, and foresee at least another 3+ years of use of it. So amortised cost far better than Windows, especially as OS keeps being upgraded for free - including this morning.

Run Absolute Tax, VT+, and Moneysoft under VMware/Windows with a sideways flick on the mouse, and back again to copy data into Office when needed. Need pdf capacity in Windows, but already owned Adobe, so just loaded it. Have full functionality of the programs.

Started as an OS ignoramus, but who had an iPhone. Learning curve? Well my rule of thumb when getting a new computer is 2 days to get it functioning like your old one. Took maybe a total of 4 days, some of which was transferring my diary and contacts data into OS to get totally up to speed?

Able to runs two screens - laptop and Thunderbolt (possibly 2 thunderbolts?), but due to the state of my neck, choose not to suffer from the necessary extra rotation.

If you have an iPhone, or iPads, you can benefit from iCloud: for contacts, diary, etc

Would I change back? - No.

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09th Nov 2017 10:42

The Australian flight controllers changed their Macs a couple of years ago after using the same machines for over ten years ... and they just upgraded them to new Macs.
I've been using Macs only ever since they were invented (well, near enough) and have zero problems since desktop hosting and online software like TaxFiler means the operating system is irrelevant ... but then I just like Macs and the stuff they produce, and, more importantly, my wife and business partner just can't get to grips with Windows, even though they both quite like the most expensive Sony computers. Buy a Mac and try it........

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09th Nov 2017 10:43

FT if you want a good looking windows desktop look at the HP Slice I think its called they stack up together and look like one of those Alexa things, you can rest you iphone on top of it and it recharges it. Ideal for the man like yourself who loves a gadget.

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By chatman
09th Nov 2017 14:13

I would never consider using Apple equipment for business or personal use because they are so expensive and I do not see evidence of any of the advantages claimed, except possibly aesthetics.

Computer programmes are constantly designed for computers with more processing power than before. No matter how robust your hardware, if your processor's not fast enough or you don't have enough RAM, you're going to need an upgrade. If your processor, RAM and disk are fast enough, a PC should last for years. Our oldest one is nine years old and going strong. All we have done is replace the old style hard disk with a solid state drive.

Macs are definitely not intuitive.

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to chatman
09th Nov 2017 14:52

I can't really contribute anything to the Mac versus Windows PC debate, but there are so many praising the strengths off SSDs, that I just wanted to let you know that these can and do fail without warning. We had a SSD that failed with no warning at only 2 and a half years of use.

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By chatman
to The Accountant
10th Nov 2017 22:38

HDDs can fail too.

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to chatman
11th Nov 2017 11:35

True, but usually you can notice them begin to fail. They become noisey and slower. The SSDs just stop.

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By chatman
to The Accountant
11th Nov 2017 12:10

Yes, that is true too, but I assume everyone has backups these days, so it's just a case of making sure you have a spare disc on site or a spare PC you can use while you get a new disc. Well worth it for the advantages of a SSD.

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to The Accountant
13th Nov 2017 12:09

Quote, "True, but usually you can notice them begin to fail. They become noisey and slower. The SSDs just stop."

This isn't universally true in my experience of managing various HP/Dell desktops (25 users), with HDD, SSD and SSHD type drives.

During past 10 years I've had instances of all three types of drives fail (become completely unbootable, unreadable) without warning.

Over the past 3 years have also had at least 3 (HP EliteDesk) desktops fitted with SSDs give fair warning that the drive is beginning to fail, recommend replacement, and remained functional for many days/weeks - long enough for me order a new drive and clone from old to new (thereby avoiding lengthy reconfiguration/rebuild) with zero issues.

To my mind the ideal practice for small businesses to mitigate the inevitable, is to ensure all work data is stored properly on a server of some sort and have each desktop machine's entire hard drive routinely backed up to local storage (eg. at weekends), making dealing with drive replacement far less painful.

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to chatman
13th Nov 2017 13:22

I've only ever had SSDs on my Macs and (touching the table) have yet to have any problem.

This discussion does, however, reinforce the benefits of cloud/hosted working. A few years back losing (or even changing) a machine or a drive failure filled me with dread but now it would be a minor problem.

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09th Nov 2017 15:35

the decision first is to decide if you are going totally cloud based , i have only one desktop program Payroll Manager and until it ever goes into cloud i wont desert windows . i do not wish to use as hosted desktop or parallax. at the moment some online programs work better on a windows machine than on an apple and i think its likely to remain that way for a couple of years

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to carnmores
11th Nov 2017 12:04

I agree, the switch to my first Mac coincided with getting hacked off with my Dell taking ages to boot up and what seemed to be none stop flaky updates to software.

Similarly, my switch to Hosted Desktop coincided with my server beginning to sound like a washing machine and failing to work for two days.

Re the better working of software in a Windows environment, I know many running such software with no problem at all on their Macs. Hosted Desktop is a Windows environment.

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