Written by Sarah Provost
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Macintosh users number two out of every ten computer owners. But to hear them tell it, that number comprises the top 20 percent. Mac people are proselytizers, as I'm sure you know if you have one in your family or circle of friends. My cousin, an avid Mac man, stayed with me for a while when he first moved to Los Angeles. He's very computer savvy. It was frustrating to ask for help when I had a computer problem, because his help always came prefaced with several comments about how I wouldn't have had this problem if I had a Mac. What makes an operating system so beloved that its users become almost a cult?

Part of it, I believe, is an "us against them" solidarity. Like any minority group, Mac users feel put-upon by the majority. The fact that Windows has 80 percent of the market is, Mac people believe, the only reason it continues to dominate. That is, people buy Windows because other people have Windows. One pro-Macintosh site goes so far as to quote Nietzsche: "The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher regard those who think alike than those who think differently." The site also points out that of 22,000 "creative firms" surveyed, they preferred Macintosh products by a margin of three to one.

It's also a fact that Mac products are more user-friendly than Windows. Files have names that are recognizable as the English language, for one thing. And the statistics would seem to indicate that Mac products require much less technical support. For instance, when a NASA Space Center in Houston switched from Mac to Windows, help desk calls more than doubled, from 68,000 per year to 142,000.

An Apple for the Teacher

Education sales are one of the strongest areas for Macintosh products. In 2001, for example, Apple made the largest single educational sale on record when it sold 23,000 iBooks. Apple continues to lead in K-12 educational sales, largely because its operating system is more intuitive than Windows.

And frankly, I lust after iBooks, eMacs and Power Macs too, because they're just plain beautiful. Sleek curves, trendy colors, clean lines and high-tech materials make Mac products look like works of office art. I love my laptop, but I wish it came in purple.

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