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Re: MacOS vs. Windows PC for Mathematica?

Just a few comments, here...

> Greetings!
> I'm wrestling with the option of switching platforms.
[under your MacOS minuses]
> - Smaller Mac market share
> presumably means lower priority for Mathematica upgrades/ ports

For the foreseeable future, Wolfram will remain strongly committed to
the Mac platform, so this should not be a concern for you.  However, no
guarantees can be made about legacy hardware or operating systems in
the Macintosh line.

> Windows:
> ========
> I assume that under WindowsNT, the system memory and process protection
> deficits identified under MacOS are either mitigated or absent.  I'm
> not sure if this also applies to Win95 or Win98.  I believe WinNT
> allows long filenames unlike Win95 and Win98 (?), but that they all key
> off the filename extension. Regarding printing robustness, my sense is
> that Windows still lags behind the Mac.

[I refer to Win95/98 as Win9x]

NT and Win9x are roughly similar in the ability to manage system memory
(from a user's standpoint, anyway...some of the technical aspects are
different).  NT has a clear advantage in process protection.

Both NT and Win9x handle long filenames without issue; however, NT's
file system tends to be more robust and secure than Win9x's file
system.  You are correct about the filename extension issue; this is a
key design philosophy in all Windows releases (since 3.0 and before),
and I don't anticipate it will change any time soon.

As for printing, I'm not sure if you have any specific issues in mind. 
Mathematica 3.0.1 and later do tend to do a better job of printing
overall than 3.0.0 on the Windows platform; some systematic issues with
printing OLE and Metafile cells remain, but this doesn't affect
Mathematica-generated content.  I'm sure other users will chime in with
their experiences on this--you may want to verify that anyone relating
any specific problems has a version after 3.0.0.

If you do decide to switch over to the Windows version, I also strongly
suggest that you get the patch for the Mathematica kernel described at:

Also, I don't think that I personally would recommend Windows 98 as a
platform for doing serious work--Mathematica or otherwise (this should
not be considered an official statement from Wolfram...only my own
opinion from using the product and listening to users).  Depending upon
your needs and your hardware, 95 and NT can be quite reasonable
platforms to use, in my opinion (I should note, however, that NT tends
to lag behind the curve in supporting new hardware standards; if you're
an early adopter, you may wish to avoid it for that reason).

There are, of course, a whole host of other advantages and disadvantages
of each operating system, and of Mathematica running on those operating
systems...far too many to go into in a single email message.  If you
have specific questions, feel free to contact me.

I hope your search comes to a satisfactory conclusion.


John Fultz
jfultz at
Front End Group
Wolfram Research, Inc.

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