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Students split on Mac vs. PC

Melissa Flanagan | Friday, March 25, 2011

Sophomore couple Colin Slaggert and Jill Giunco only disagree about one thing: their computers. Giunco prefers her Mac to past computers, while Slaggert has always favored a PC.

“I think Macs are confusing, and I don’t know how to find anything on them,” Slaggert said. “Also, I like how you can right-click [on a PC].”

But which computer is more popular at Notre Dame?

Jonathan Hall, manager of the Office of Information Technologies (OIT) Computer Store and Service Center, said the answer is not completely clear. Although the store tends to sell more Macs to students, OIT’s Service Center repairs many more PCs than Macs.

“I think the reason we do see a higher percentage of Mac sales is that there is an academic discount on the Mac product versus buying through Apple,” Hall said. “You save money going through your educational institution.”

Hall said the store sells a majority of their new computers to incoming freshmen during the back-to-school period. Apple offers incentives to students purchasing Macs during this time, like receiving a free iPod with the purchase of a computer, Hall said.

Hall said PC sales are likely lower than Mac sales at the OIT Computer Store because students do not feel compelled to take advantage of discount opportunities offered by PC manufacturers.

“On the PC side, there’s so much more competition out there,” he said. “There’s not as big of a chase for that ultimate discount.”

But when it comes to repairing computers at the service center, many more PC-owning students seek assistance for computer problems than Mac owners, Hall said.

“Although we have seen an increase in the amount of students buying Macs, I don’t believe that means there’s a higher number of Macs on campus,” Hall said. “I do think there are more PCs simply because we fix more of them.”

David Yeh, director of Information Technologies for the Mendoza College of Business, said the high sales of Macs do not reflect whether or not they can be used in all academic situations.

“In the younger generation, we do see an increase in students adapting some of the Mac devices,” he said. “However, many of the software applications are still not 100 percent compatible with the Macs. It depends on the facet of business.”

Although Mac OS and Windows are the two most common computer operating systems, Yeh said Notre Dame does not limit itself to supporting just those two. Notre Dame also supports a variety of others including Linux, which is primarily used to run engineering programs.

Mendoza currently does not have a Mac cluster, and students use PCs when classes are conducted in computer labs, Yeh said. However, students who wish to use Mac computers may bring them to class and run them parallel to the lab PCs.

Although not a business major, Slaggert said he prefers his PC because he is comfortable with its features. He said he also values its substantial size.

“I like that it weighs ten pounds,” Slaggert said. “It helps me exercise when I don’t have time to get to the gym.”

Giunco said she appreciates her computer’s compact size and weight for easy transportation to class. She said she has never needed to run a program on her Mac that can only run on PCs.

Giunco also said she prefers the user-friendly interface of Macs.

“You can close it and open it again and be right where you were before,” she said. “When I closed my PC, all my work would get lost and it would turn off.”