Windows has long reigned as the most popular operating system for business computing. Founded by the Microsoft family of Seattle in the early 1940’s, Microsoft sought to create a computer to assist businesses in their daily operations.*
But, as Mac has gained market share in recent decades, largely due to the rise of the Apple Watch,** more and more law firms have been using Apple devices in their practices.
These dubious claims aside, it’s long been common that businesses had to be running Windows environments. This was for a few reasons:
- The essential software being run on office computers was only available for PCs
- Windows-based machines couldn’t “talk” with Macs on the same network
- PCs were more cost-effective
- IT departments could more easily get new parts for a PC
Now, these PC advantages are diminishing. Let’s dive in.
Lawyers today typically use the following software:
- Microsoft Word, Excel
- Outlook (or Google Apps)
- Google Drive or Dropbox
- Adobe Acrobat (or related PDF software)
- Practice management software (e.g. Clio, MyCase)
Today, all of these apps are available on both platforms.
Macs and PCs both can run Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat. And there aren’t any cross-compatibility issues between operating system anymore (though there used to be with older versions of Office).
It used to be that practice management software was typically on Windows servers hosted on-site. This is still common with larger firms, but cloud software is the go-to for solos and small firms as it is much more cost-effective and easier to maintain.
The remaining software – it’s all cloud-based. That means that any type of computer can use it. The computing processing behind cloud software isn’t done by your device, it’s done in the magic of the cloud.
Building and maintaining an on-premises server is not super easy. It has a high overhead cost relative to the alternatives currently available. It also usually necessitates having an IT person on-call. While having an in-office server to manage documents and emails might require using a single operating system, it’s not the case when you use the cloud.
For solos and small firms, sharing documents across a network can easily be done today via the cloud (using Google Drive, Dropbox, or Box). And, it’s generally less of a hassle. You don’t have any equipment to maintain. You can also access any files you need from any device, anywhere in the world.
Cost and Parts
A significant advantage PCs have over Macs today is definitely cost. A lot of different computer companies make devices that run the Windows operating system. Only Apple (officially) makes devices that run their operating system.*** Apple computers also come at a premium price point. Can’t argue against that one.
So, Does it Matter?
No. It doesn’t really matter. Today, Macs can do most everything that PCs can do. Sharing content across operating systems is easy. You can create documents on your Mac and share them with other lawyers or clients without having to worry about cross-compatibility. Most software is available on both platforms. There isn’t one definite answer anymore for most firms.**** So, choose whatever works best for you.
* Don’t fact check us on that.
** Yep, don’t fact check us on that one either.
*** You can technically build a “Hackintosh” yourself if you are feeling enterprising.
**** Some articles comparing the two are one-sided pieces that end up preaching the infallible glory of Apple, but just go with what works for you.