Operating Systems - Which do you use?

Feb 06, 2011

Hi all!

I have a burning question for you - I'm going to be looking at buying a new desktop computer that has a big screen to do lots of design work on. My immediate choice was to go with a Mac since they look so dog-gone nice. However, I'm curious to see what you all use and if there is a general consensus about which is better and/or more pleasing to use for online design.

I know Macs are usually used for sexy graphics work, but I'm not sure about interoperability of authoring tools (like Articulate, Captivate, etc.) or other programs.

If Macs aren't the answer (or even if they are), as an alternative, what would be the best PC out there for this kind of work? Everything from make/model to size of memory and ideal disk space will be helpful details for me. My current home computer is an outdated Dell XPS M140.



29 Replies
Gerry Wasiluk

If you had to go with Windows, I'd hold off until April if you could and go with a new Sandy Bridge PC (once last week's announced misstep by Intel on SB has been recovered from), Windows 7 64-bit with 8-16 GIG of RAM and an SSD hard drive.  For SB processor, the best you can afford.  If I had to give up anything I'd give up the SSD since 64-bit OS with plenty of RAM and a good processor probably are more helpful when publishing with Presenter.

I've always used Dell XPS's at home but at work we have HP's and they seem okay also.

Robert Kennedy


We had a post about this about this in the old forums and there is not going to be a consensus on this .  It's gonna be about your preference really.  I personally have a 27 inch iMac and LOOOOOOOOVE it.  I do my Articulate work on it via Parallels, running Windows 7 and Office 2010.  No issues.  I am running 8 GB of RAM and probably will push it out to 16 GB in the next few weeks.  Everything is just as fast, if not faster than on a native Windows machine.  This really gives me the best of both worlds and I love it.

Trond Kristiansen


I have to agree with Robert here. I use a 17" Macbook Pro, and I work in Articulate using Bootcamp from Apple to run win7 and Office 2010. I have 4 GB of ram, but I am upgrading to 8GB now. I have had no issues, and I am very happy with the setup. The resolution on my mac is the same as on my 24" screen at work. A runs windows, but you dont get a pc to run Mac OS X the same way a mac runs windows.

Chantelle N

I figured there would be some differing views! But with a good idea of what I'm also looking for, I think the discussion will help me. Especially since I'm leaning toward a Mac already, I'm just looking for that verification that either a Mac can do any of things you would normally need a PC for, or if a high enough grade of PC can do things just as good as a Mac. By the sounds of things Macs are pretty good with interoperability, so I may just be convinced to that end.

I know the majority of people here also use Articulate, but unfortunately until I get a better computer and buy it myself and/or convince my workplace to invest in more than one authoring tool (see: mountain) I am most familiar with Captivate. Any word on how well that runs on a Mac? Or I guess given the fact that you can load up Windows on a Mac anyway it might be the same as you guys have said? I can't wait until I can also be an Articulate guru (I did do the trial!)

However, I do not want to diminish Gerry's contribution either. It's been so long since I've looked at PCs and the systems in the past few years changed so fast that I really was not sure where I would start with that, so I'll be making note of that to keep as well no matter what my choice for this situation!

Anyway, thanks all! I look forward to any more contributions should they come but this is a good start for me :)


Robert Kennedy

Not to push you over to the other side of the fence or anything, but Captivate is a different beast than Articulate, really.  There is a current version that functions natively on the Mac.  Since Articulate Presenter depends on Powerpoint, its a little bit more complicated for it to work as easily on the native Mac side.  But, the Parallels (or if you prefer Boot Camp) solution works extremely well for me and I'm glad to have the best of both worlds.

Jenise Cook (RidgeViewMedia.com)

@Robert  Good, you're going up to 16 GB of RAM!! Powerhouse!

@Chantelle  You can find my rants, er... posts, about using Articulate on Macs in the old Forums, too.

I run Articulate on 2 Macs:

  • An "old", 2007 15" MBPro with (only) 2GB of RAM... not fast enough but it worked... so I now have an
  • A 2010, i7 15" MBPro with 8 GB of RAM (Robert, you're scaring me that I don't have enough RAM now.)

Instead of using Parallels, I use VMWare Fusion v3+ because all of my Systems/Networks colleagues said to go with a company that has spent years in the virtual applications world. Fusion has been a stable performer for me for almost 4 years.

As everyone has said, it's a personal preference. For me, my very first desktop computer was an Apple Lisa, the precursor to the Macintosh. The Mac OS is very, very stable and reliable (never a Blue Screen of Death!), as you may know.

When I first got my 2007 MBPro, I used Boot Camp to see how things would shake out when I installed Articulate's tools. It worked so well I got tired of shutting down BC so I could go back to the Mac OS, where I used all of my Adobe Creative Suite tools. That's when I decided it was best to go to a virtual desktop, and chose Fusion.

Parallels or Fusion, it really doesn't matter as they both play well with Macs running a Wintel OS.

As for Captivate, I did download the Mac beta ... I think it was early last year. It was good, but I had already spent years using Captivate on a Windows machine, had a copy already installed, so I just used Fusion to switch to that Windows version of Captivate. Probably a silly workflow at the time.

Honestly, those of us who either have always worked on Macs or switched from a Wintel OS to the Mac OS later in life... well, we're biased and not very objective anymore. LOL  As you can see, we LOVE OUR MACS, and are so glad we have Fusion and Parallels to let us use our favorite e-learning too, Articulate Studio, on our beloved Macs.

Oh, yea, that reminds me. It's time for me to submit my monthly Feature Request for a Mac version of Articulate Studio. Thanks for the reminder, everyone!

Feature Request

@Chantelle  Good luck, and have fun making your decision! @Gerry is correct regarding Sandy Bridge. Do a search on it and read the press releases that came out last week.

(P.S.  I've never regretted buying and using a Mac. It has handled anything my Windows-based clients have given me for projects.)

Robert Kennedy

Chantelle Nash said:

Can I just say, I love you guys. Can we all get an office together please?

Sure.  Is the kitchenette stocked?  Because, I mean, a dude can't work without some good sugar in his system.  I prefer pastries please, lightly crusted, flaky, like strudel.  Some croissants will go well.  Also, to make me feel like I am in the airport, please have a steady supply of Cinnabons.  Much appreciated.  See you soon.

Chantelle N

Gerry Wasiluk said:

Chantelle Nash said:

Can I just say, I love you guys. Can we all get an office together please?

Only if it is in a warm climate with no snow. 

I like Minnesota but this is too much this year . . . 

Minnesota huh! I'm originally from South Dakota. I went back last winter where there was a mega-ton of snow. I'll miss it when it's back to 110 here in Texas day in and day out :)
Chantelle N

Robert Kennedy said:

Chantelle Nash said:

Can I just say, I love you guys. Can we all get an office together please?

Sure.  Is the kitchenette stocked?  Because, I mean, a dude can't work without some good sugar in his system.  I prefer pastries please, lightly crusted, flaky, like strudel.  Some croissants will go well.  Also, to make me feel like I am in the airport, please have a steady supply of Cinnabons.  Much appreciated.  See you soon.

Oh, sugar we can do. I'm so addicted to sugar it's not even funny. Although I don't like croissants, I'll compromise since the cinnamon roll idea is so good.

Mariano Aran

Hi Chantelle,

May I add my two cents for a Mac choice.

I'm on a Macbook Pro i7 266 GHz 17'' and 8Gb RAM.   I have bootcamp setup (that is to run windows natively) and also VMWare fusion to access the same bootcamp partition but as a virtual machine from the Mac.

Almost all the time I access it from the Mac, but when I need all the power (for example publishing long and heavy courses) I just boot with the bootcamp partition and publish.

It's working great for me!  I've been a PC user for many many years BUT I would have to agree with Jenise... once you try a Mac, it's very hard to look back!

I only wish Articulate had a Mac version... as I ONLY have the bootcamp partition and VMWare for Articulate....

I don't think I can join you all guys in a 'physical' office as I'm in Australia... but maybe a 'virtual' office... ;-)

James Brown

Sorry guys but Intel chips would not be my first choice. They have gotten better but I am still sold on AMD. I honestly love the NVIDIA SLI on my home PC and my PC at work with a bigger intel processor still is a lot slower than my home PC. At work I actually have to use intel chips with twin monitors and it's tolerable. Funny once you have duo screens it's hard to go back to one. However as I have mentioned in other threads, since I am not into PC Gaming, but heavy into multi-media, I would have to go with a Macbook Pro. MAC's rock and a lot of programs including Snag-it and Power Point do work on Mac's.  Man I wish I had invested in Apple in the 80's. I'd be rich now.

Chantelle N

Ok all, so I've decided I'm going to get a PC notebook and then invest in the Mac desktop. Comments welcome!

For the laptop, I've been considering the XPS 15 or the Sony Vaio EA - today after some research I decided I might like the Vaio better, because of some things like weight, keyboard, etc. The XPS keyboards seem to have downgraded quality from the older version I currently have and seem both a bit clunky in terms of sound and brittle.

The specs I've got in my cart at the Sony store are below. I did some upgrades to the RAM (from 4 to 6) and processor (from i3 to i5), although I didn't max it all out (to 8 and i7) to keep it within a reasonable price range and keeping in mind I'm also going to have a desktop in the future) - the price it comes out to is $1209, with a discount I get from my employer (says I'm saving about $63).

I really wanted a version that had a backlit keyboard as well (the F series), but I ended up liking this version better and decided to sacrifice that feature. Plus this one allows you to customize colors/skins which I'm a sucker for. There are also some options for getting the 1080 display (I think) but I'm not sure that really matters for me as I don't ever plan to hook it up to my TV or anything like that.

  • CD/DVD Player / Burner
  • High capacity battery
  • 6GB (4GBx1 + 2GBx1) DDR3-SDRAM-1066
  • Microsoft® Office 2010 Home & Student
  • Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator HD
  • Intel® Core™ i5-480M processor (2.66GHz) with Turbo Boost up to 2.93GHz
  • 14" VAIO Display with LED backlight (1366 x 768)
  • Adobe Bundle (Free - $448 value) --> this is described as follows: When you buy select laptops from Sony Style, you get an extra perk: The Adobe Bundle.Organize and edit your photos with Photoshop® Elements 8.0. Makeincredible movies with Premiere® Elements 8. And prepare and protect PDF documentswith Acrobat Standard 9.0. A $448 value.
  • Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 640GB Hard Disk Drive (5400rpm)
Cindy Riddle

Hey everyone!

Sorry, I'm a little late to the party.  Chantelle, I've had a a couple of Vaio's and they are really nice machines.  However, I recently sold my Sony and purchased a Macbook Pro with a 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7 and 4 GB Ram. I am now trying to figure out if I want to go with Bootcamp or Parallels to run Articulate and Office 2010. 

I don't understand how Parallels uses memory - If I understand correctly, I would have to allocate some memory to the "windows" OS and the rest would remain with the OS X, right? Is 4GB enough to do this? How much should be allocated to Windows?

Thanks in advance. I hope I'm not getting off topic - I just found everyone's descriptions to be very helpful to me, too.

PS: I'll go for the virtual office in Australia!!!!

Leah Hemeon

I run Articulate on a 3 year old iMac - 8GB ram, in Parallels or Bootcamp. I LOVE my iMac. I also have a MacBook pro that I can use but I prefer the bigger screen of the iMac. I haven't seen anyone mention the fact that to run Windows on the Mac you'll have to purchase Windows (and of course Office). I was running it in Bootcamp/Parallels with Win XP but a few weeks ago I took the leap to Win7. I love windows 7 (and this coming from a Vista hater).

I wouldn't trade my macs in for a windows machine EVER. I know I could get a window's computer quite a bit cheaper but I've never had one last 3 years before!

Good luck with your decision. It's not an easy one to make.

Jenise Cook (RidgeViewMedia.com)

Since 2007, I run Articulate Studio '09 on my MacBook Pro using VMWare Fusion instead of Parallels.

I first started out doing BootCamp, but quickly grew tired of powering off and on to get to the Windows side.

I LOVE MY MAC, and am grateful for companies like VMWare and Parallels, who allow us to use Articulate on our very favorite hardware (Mac) and platform (OS X).

Techsmith (SnagIt and Camtasia) and Adobe (Captivate) now have Mac versions of their software.

I keep asking Santa for a Mac version of Articulate... dreams can come true... (hoping, hoping, hoping...)

My first experience with an Apple computer was the Lisa, the prototype for the Macintosh. I fell in love with it, but my employer at that time then took it away and put me on a DEC VAX/VMS dummy terminal.

Once you learn how to use a Mac, you never look back at a Windows machine with nostalgia. It is so worth the money... in fact, I just bought a new MB Pro with 4 GB RAM.

If you buy a Mac, make sure you take the free training classes at your local Apple store, and use the tutorials on iTunesU.

You'll get up to speed very quickly.

Jenise Cook (RidgeViewMedia.com)

Gerry Wasiluk said:

Sounds like some of the delays on Sandy Bridge until April may have been premature, especially for laptops.  Believe Sandy Bridge will be for both Windows PCs and Macs.  I'm waiting to upgrade my rigs.


What's the latest on Sandy Bridge, as of 3/14? Have you heard anything new since your post above?

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