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14,000+ of the highest quality software titles are not enough for some users!?
*** There are more Mac titles than 32 bit Windows titles ***

By:David K. Every
©Copyright 1999

There are currently 14,000+ software titles for the Macintosh - which is far far more than the average person needs or could use, and I don't think that includes all of the various shareware and freeware products available for Macs. So the point is that if you need a Mac to do something, then odds are there is a package out there somewhere to do it.

It may be true that PC's have more software titles than the Mac, you should keep the following in mind -

  • How many titles do you need?

    The average user only uses about 4 programs on a regular basis. Having hundreds of programs is not practical nor needed, nor often done. What users really care about is that there is at least one quality program for their need, and the Mac definitely meets that requirement and usually has 2 or 3 in each category. So even if PC's do have 20 word processors and the Mac only has 10, users do not care nor should they care. When you look at market segment you learn that the top 1-3 programs usually own an entire category of software anyway.
  • PC Software Market is not as big as it seems.

    There are some issues on the PC side, like different versions of the same App. PC's often have separate versions for the different OS's - like DOS versions, Win3 versions, and Win95 or WinNT versions of the same application. That makes the market look larger than it really is.

    Also on the PC side it is more common to have Add-on's for a package. So you have a game like X-Wing, X-Wing II and other extras all packaged separately, while it is very common for the Mac version of the same package to include all of those extensions or add-ons in a single package.
  • Quantity is not Quality

    I personally do not care how many apps of a particular type I can get as much as I care of the quality of those applications. The Mac often has the best-of-catagory for each category. Mac versions often win awards and often have better versions for the Mac or some of the best software is Mac-only. So I am better off if I can only choose among the 5 best quality Apps while Windows user only can chose 3 of those 5 (but they don't run quite as good because they are on windows platform) and then they have 15 other low-quality variants to confuse users and lure them into the wrong choices.

    Many Mac titles not only have more features enabled by the MacOS itself, but many companies that track software support costs (or sell software) have concluded that Mac versions of software require far less support per sale than PC versions. This obviously supports the conclusion that Mac versions are higher quality, and the MacOS helps alleviate software support issues.
  • Vertical vs. Horizontal Apps

    Many of the Application choices in Windows come from Vertical Applications.

    Horizontal applications are programs that can be used by a wide variety of people (e.g.- home finances)
    Vertical applications are those apps that are very specialized (e.g.- tax accounting for minority lawyers in Utah)

    This means that most of those "extra" titles that PC's have that Macs do not, are useless to most people. Some of these titles are critical to some people, but then that one title should not define your whole purchase, especially if it is used the minority of the time, if you can run that title on either platform (read the next two bullet items).
  • Macs run PC software as well

    For many years Macs have been able to run PC programs. There are a variety of ways to do this, remotely, through emulation, or by adding Hardware to the Mac. This means that Mac users do not have to give up superior interface and capabilities to run those rare vertical applications that they may be missing. To be fair these solutions may incur some performance penalties for emulation or some added cost - but in most cases these are more than made up for by the other cost savings in using the Mac, and extra benefits of the solution (e.q. - Macs can often deal with more file formats better, translate data between applications better, or using hardware cards allows an MP solution for more performance, etc.)
  • Macs read PC files

    For the last few years the Applications themselves have been becoming less and less important as more varied apps can work with the same data. If a user can read and write the same file on the Mac and the PC, then it does not matter which platform you use for that task. Microsofts Excel spreadsheet for Mac and Windows use the exact same file - so it does not matter which machine you use to do your work, but also WingZ for Mac can read and write Excel files and is a more powerful package. So the Application you use is not nearly as important as having access to your data, and Macs are much better at translating data and working with more data types than PC's.


So the truth of the matter is that Macs have plenty of software choices and often have better software choices. Most of the myths about the Mac not having enough software is due to PC users ignorance of Mac software or differences in software distribution (PC software is heavily sold through retail, where Mac software is more likely to be sold mail-order). This gives an illusion of less availability for the Mac.

Supporting Articles

  • Seattle Times article (1/26/97) -- Title Wars - Macs hold their own -
    By Phillip Robinson, Knight-Ridder Newspapers

    This article explains that there are more Mac software titles than the average person needs or could possibly use.

Where to find Mac Software

LinksMac Software links

A usenet post regarding Mac & PC CD-ROMs (6/10/96)
-- Sorry I lost the link to the original author (dke)

When I received my Educorp catalog the other day, and was curious to check out the breakdown between Macs and PC CD-ROMs.

The final count is as follows:

  • 863 - Mac CDs
  • 828 - DOS/Windows/Windows 95 combined
  • 117 Windows95 (111 were duplicates of Windows or DOS versions)
  • 123 listed as DOS (34 were also available in Windows or Windows 95 versions)

So PC versions had a lots of duplicates - which is not more variety.

Created: 02/09/97
Updated: 11/09/02

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