The Neverending PC vs Mac Debate
Macintosh computers have led the way in the publishing and design fields for a long time. Software developers realise they can't ignore the massive market of PC's have and are beginning to service their needs with such releases as Adobe Illustrator 7 for Windows and the eagerly awaited Quark Xpress 4 for Windows. Will we start to see Windows computers becoming more popular in the industry?
Never-ending is the discussion of which platform best suits designers needs. Most design firms will swear by the Macintosh as their main design working platform. Software companies have been the major reason for this, as with most industries, having a huge impact on the daily operation of peoples work. More now than ever, software companies are realising that they can't primarily focus on the Macintosh environment for the graphics and design industry as PC's are such a large percent of the market share.
Some of the major reasons people prefer the Macintosh environment are font management, Macintosh's better handling of the PostScript environment, and software support. Major software packages such as Adobe Illustrator and Quark Xpress have long been supported mostly on the Macintosh but now with the new release of Adobe Illustrator 7 for Windows95 and WindowsNT and the soon to be released (fingers crossed) Quark Xpress 4, PC users are gaining the power, precision and flexibility of high end illustration tools. As a user of Adobe Illustrator for the Macintosh for several years, I was keen to see its compatibility with the PC environment and I am very happy to say that this software is almost identical on both environments. After doing several tests on the transformation of the software from one environment to the other, I finally felt a sigh of relief that there is a way for high end illustration and design to be created on both platforms and exchanged without troubles.
This leads us to the next topic of discussion for both platforms - font management. Macintosh computers predominantly use PostScript fonts unlike PC's which use truetype. This poses major problems when transferring files from one platform to the other. PC's have had the availability of PostScript fonts due to Adobe Type Manager for a long time, but most PC users will use truetype fonts because of their availability. These problems are slowly becoming overcome with such utilities that can transform PC to Mac fonts, type 1 to truetype or vice versa but there is still a small way to go before this bridge completely closes the gap.
PC's are a huge percentage in the world of desktop computers and this fact can't be ignored. More companies are hiring in-house graphic designers to serve their companies needs - in-house brochures, company newsletters, web sites, etc. Almost always these companies are already PC based. This is where the PC market is growing in the design industry. All these companies need to do is buy software for their existing systems, and not have to go out and purchase thousands of dollars of Macintosh equipment. People are not turning from Macintosh to PC environments, but as always, PC users are expanding their capabilities.
The unanswerable question is - as the PC expands its share in the design market, will Macintosh users follow trend and slowly see that their needs can be filled with PC environments? Or will they continue to exist as Macintosh based environments using their computers to convert any PC sources to their environment? I'm sure any opinions myself or others make will only change as new technologies enter our lives. When desktop computers entered our lives there was much debate as to whether they would be able to serve the design industries needs. Many believed they would never have the flexibility of original typesetting and layout methods but nobody imagined we'd be where we are today. Only time will tell and I'm sure nothing but exciting and wonderful new ways of working will enter our lives, whichever platform it be.