Buzz’s Blog: On Web 3.0 and the Semantic Web

Nov 14 2010   2:08AM GMT

Mac vs. Dell installation: the long and windy reboot

Roger King Roger King Profile: Roger King

This blog is dedicated to emerging Web and media technology, in particular, 3D animation.  But in this posting, we’re going to compare the installation of an iMac with the installation of a Dell Windows 7 desktop.

(By the way, I teach 3D animation at the University of Colorado – feel free to download my class videos at:

The two machines.

First of all, this is not your typical “Windows sucks” blog posting.  In truth, the two machines I am comparing here both run quite well, and in truth, I’m impressed my Dell XPS’s ability to run complex graphics and 3D animation software, with comparable render times (generating video from animated scenes) to my iMac, and with interactive response rates similar to my iMac.

They are comparable hardware-wise, with multicore processors, 64 bit operating systems, and a lot of memory.

Both operating systems were preloaded – sort of.

They both came ready to go, supposedly, with their operating systems and appropriate drivers preloaded.

The problem.

But here’s the thing: to “install” the iMac, I had to connect my two external drives, along with the keyboard and mouse.  Then I hit the “on” button, and well, it booted.  Fast.

I then had to run the operating system update program (called Software Update on a Mac) to bring my machine up to date with the latest version of the operating system.

That was it.  Ten minutes, max.

Now, as for my Dell machine…

It took two days.  I mean it.  Two days of downloading countless Windows operating system updates, two days of re-running updates that would not take the first or second time I tried, two days of downloading Dell updates, two days of downloading the proper drivers for various devices.

And rebooting and rebooting and rebooting, with some of these reboots taking twenty minutes.

The big comparison.

I don’t think anything was wrong, but the difference between the two machines was astonishing.  I couldn’t imagine running a machine room somewhere and having to install Windows machines on a daily basis.

The other thing, something that I already knew from past experience, is that the process of installing applications on a Windows machine is much longer than installing the same apps on a Mac.  So, of course, there were many more hours of putting in CD’s and DVD’s, and downloading installers, and then going off to do real work on my iMac while I waiting for these install programs to do who-knows-what, so that I could do real work on my Windows box.


I do have to say, however, that once the Dell was fully installed and I got all my apps loaded, it performed beautifully – and still does.  The Dell people were also very prompt and helpful when I had trouble figuring out what drivers I needed – something that does not happen on a Mac, since they bundle their hardware and software.

Next time we get back to 3D animation.


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