When I got my first Mac 5 years ago, my programmer friends almost disowned me for being such a disgrace to the local nerd community. At that time, there was a prevailing sentiment that real coders used Windows or Linux. Macs were for the fuzzy, the uninitiated, the sparkling nincompoop in the realm of marketing.
How the tide has turned! Last week, I asked around a recommendation for a laptop and the ubiquitous answer I got was Mac. Stanford, with 1/5th of its student body majoring in Computer Science, officially advises students to choose Macs over Windows. It surprises me that only 35% students use Macs. If you go to any lecture hall at Stanford, you will see Apple logo dominates the scene.
“About 70% of undergraduates have PCs, about 35% have Macs (some have both), and public computers include both. If you’re on the fence, Residential Computing recommends Macs over PCs because we’ve found them easier to support and far less susceptible to viruses and network vulnerabilities. The overwhelming majority of security issues on campus resulting in network disconnection are on Windows-based machines. Further, all new Macs have the capability to run the Windows operating system.”
I don’t want to go over that old obsolete debate: Mac vs Windows. We all know that Macs won by a knockout. But I want to know how it happened. When was the exact moment the people who furiously rejected Macs five years ago woke up and realized that they were wrong.
I googled. On Feb 25 2011, someone on StackExchange asked a rather innocuous question: “Why do programmers use or recommend Mac OS X?” The question itself got 63 upvotes.
Right underneath it, a response on the same day got 118 upvotes.
Do programmers enthusiastically choose Mac OS X over Windows and Linux? I’m not sure about the premise of the question, since I’ve never known one that did. The only programmers I know who use OS X are those developing iPhone apps. – Carson63000 Feb 25 ’11 at 0:36
Then another one with 75 upvotes.
The same thread went on and on and on for more than 2 years with people from both sides defended their ideas, until StackExchange closed the thread down in December 2013. The threat was viewed 225807 times.
The phrase “historical significance” is spot on. From the popularity of the question and its answers, I guess that early 2011 was when the tide started to change for the holy war Macs vs Windows, and by the end of 2013, the debate was pretty much settled.