Choosing the right technology platform for your church is very important, and choosing the wrong one can lead to excruciating long-term consequences (and heart ache!).
It’s safe to say that every pastor or technology volunteer in a church has been faced with the question, “Mac or PC?” at some time in their decision to purchase new computers for their church.
In some cases the decision is very easy to make but in others it can be a downright doctrinal issue that’s more divisive than the color of the church’s carpet. While we here at ChurchIT don’t have all of the answers we hope to provide you with a little guidance in make you decision a little bit easier next time.
There are many factors that go into deciding whether or not to use Macs or PCs such as personal preference, expertise of the volunteers in your congregation, TCO (total cost of ownership), current IT investment, possibility of growth and more.
This series of posts will look into the pros and cons of a PC-only or Mac-only IT infrastructure and guide the reader in choosing a plan for investing in computing equipment for their church.
What you can expect:
- In Part 1 we’ll discuss the pros and cons of going with a PC-only environment.
- In Part 2 we’ll discuss the pros and cons of going with a Mac-only environment.
- In Part 3 we’ll summarize everything from the first two parts and provide with the right answer to fit every church’s needs (or at least get you to a point where you can make an informed decision!).
Ready to get started?
The PC-Only Environment
First, let’s take a look at the PC side of things. With over 90% of the market share in the world, Windows is the most popular and most used operating system.
In fact, there are probably not many (if any) adults in the US that haven’t used a Windows OS of some kind at some point in their life. Windows is so ubiquitous it has become synonymous with the term PC (Apple computers are PCs too). It not only runs on desktops, laptops, and servers but also cell phones, ATMs and many other types of computing devices in various vertical markets.
So why would you want Windows running on all of your church’s computers? Let’s take a look at 3 Solid Reasons for this:
1. They’re Cheap
I know you want a quality computer. You want something that will last you a long time; but if your church is growing and you need to get a computer on someone’s desk fast, $400 gets you everything you need.
Granted, it’s not going to distill a PDF or encode a video in H.264 in record time but for that administrative position that just needs to get on the Internet, manage email and use a office productivity suite it’s just right.
And let’s face it, church budgets are shrinking due to the economic downturn and you’re probably looking to pinch every penny twice these days.
2. They’re Everywhere
That means you can find someone to fix it or troubleshoot a problem pretty easily.
Not only that, any out of warranty repairs are going to be pretty cheap. Most churches will be able to find a repair shop within 30 miles that can repair a PC.
That’s not always the case with an Apple computer. And when it comes to computer repair (Mac or PC) it’s not a matter of if it’s going to happen but when.
I know, I can hear you groaning already, “Not the old software argument!” However, when it comes to software for churches and other vertical markets, developers tend to reach for the low hanging fruit and it’s not Apple.
Developers know that they are going to get more customers by coding for Windows than OS X. That trend is starting to change but I’m still amazed that some large players still do not support OS X or if they do it’s not as feature-rich as the Windows version.
While those three reason aren’t the only reasons you’d want to buy Windows PCs, they are (in my opinion) the top three reasons to look at Redmond-powered computers rather than the Cupertino-powered alternative.
Now, why would you want to stay away from Windows-based computers? Well, here’s 3 Great Reasons to avoid:
1. They’re Cheap
No, I’m not just trying to recycle my bullet points but rather trying to be fair here. Even though I primarily use a “PC” I recognize that there are some pretty shoddy computer manufacturers out there and buying a cheap PC could actually lead to more trouble than it’s worth.
For a mission-critical machine you do not want a $400 computer you picked up at Wal-mart or Best Buy (neither Wal-mart or Best Buy are affiliated with ChurchIT).
You want something reliable and ready to do the job when it’s turned on. That means you’ll be in the price range of an iMac; now you’ve got some serious thinking to do.
If you plan on having any creative ministries, the volunteer or person you hire is probably going to be accustomed to using a Mac.
While Windows can certainly do everything OS X can do, if the person using the computer is used to CMD-clicking and not right-clicking you could end up with someone who is frustrated and unproductive.
So depending upon the experience of the person doing the job, a PC may not be the right purchase.
I’m not going to lay it out there and say OS X is more secure than Windows because, frankly, I don’t know.
There isn’t enough of a user base to attract the hackers so OS X has enjoyed some security through obscurity. However, I do know that Windows computers can be a pain in the neck to keep virus-free if you have a click happy person behind the mouse. For now, you may want to go with the Mac if you want to keep your network easily secured.
There you have it, three reason to go with a PC and three reasons to avoid them.
In part two I’ll take a look at Macs and why you should or shouldn’t use them for all of your computing needs in your church.
If you’ve got some more suggestions and advice let’s hear them in the comments!