Which platform?

Tim Cutts Zoology tjrc1 at mole.bio.cam.ac.uk
Fri Jun 14 03:48:38 EST 1996

In article <flyon-1306961828180001 at max2-wc-ca-00.earthlink.net>,
Matthew Lyon <flyon at www.earthlink.com> wrote:
>   I'm a freshman biochem. major trying to decide what route to go, PC or
>PowerMac. I only have about four grand to spend - Which platform has a
>better selection of software that would for me? I'm on an old borrowed Mac
>660AV right now, but learning DOS and Windows is not beyond me at all,
>because I'm very technically oriented.

There is more purpose built software for the Mac, however things may
change soon, since PC operating environments are now passing the
Macintosh (technically Windows NT is far ahead of System 7.5, and more
on a par with UNIX or VMS as an operating system).  System 7.5 is
better than DOS/Windows.  In my opinion PCs start becoming really
useful machines when running Windows NT (I've been running it for a
year now, and it's transformed my computer use - I used to use our
PowerMac more, but now I've switched to the PC and NT because it's far
more stable)

>   Also, which platform would inferface better with a workstation, to
>utilize those high-powered apps.?

As far as interfacing with workstations is concerned, my own feeling
is that PC's are more suitable.  If you are going to be using UNIX
based software a lot, it makes sense to get a PC, and run a free UNIX
clone such as Linux on it.  You get a phenomenally powerful OS on your
desktop machine which behaves pretty similarly to your UNIX host.
UNIX can't be beat for internet connectivity either (although NT comes
close if you don't need server functions).

The other great advantage of UNIX over either Mac or Windows is that
it is comparatively easy to write your own software for should you
need it; powerful scripting languages such as perl are freely available to
very quickly knock up data processing programs.

This is one place Windows NT shines too; NT is POSIX compatible, and
sufficiently close to UNIX in many ways that lots of UNIX molecular
biology software has been ported to it (do a Lycos search for Russell
Malmberg's page containing NT versions of lots of molecular biology
software).  Russell seems to be on a one man crusade to port
anything and everything to NT!

Much of this may run on Windows 95 too, I don't know.

In summary:

For user-friendly apps available right now, Mac is more suitable.
For user-friendly apps in the future, PC/Windows NT might be better.
For internet connectivity (and price!), a PC running Linux is good.

My solution to this?

I own a PC which runs both Windows NT and Linux.  Occasionally I
borrow the laboratory's PowerMac, but less and less as time goes on.

Your mileage may vary, especially as you are coming from a Mac
environment, so your bias is different from mine (I emerged from the
CP/M world, and the PC was the logical progression for me 10 years

Good luck!

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