The evolution of the personal computer over the last twenty years has been exemplified by the struggle between Apple, Inc. and the Windows-based universe. Apple got way out in front, lagged behind for a long while and now the race draws closer every day. For most of that period, Macs have been the computer of choice for a large percentage of “creative professionals.”

For projection designers, my informal polling shows the predominant choice as Macs, at least for personal computers and content-creation machines. However, there are a number of interesting anomalies in the field that are preventing the total dominance of Apple devices, or, at least a little more harmony between the two.

AutoCAD: built on Windows-native DirectX technology, Autodesk seems unwilling to port AutoCAD over to a more OpenGL friendly format.

Watchout: Dataton’s software is strangely split—the production software will work on a Mac (sometimes), but the display software requires Windows boxes.

Media servers: Hippotizer and Pandora’s Box are built on Windows foundations, while the Catalyst system is built on a Mac.

Some of this is due to the conflict between DirectX and OpenGL, but with OpenGL functioning on most video cards—including some that also run DirectX—I’m not sure why companies choose to develop for the Windows-only format. This is especially confusing since both OpenGL’s and Apple’s developer tools are just better and easier to use than Microsoft’s (obviously a personal opinion).

Another factor is the cost and difficulty of modifying the hardware of Apple devices. It’s going to cost you twice as much to build a rackmount media server on an Apple Mac Pro foundation than a PC foundation. But shouldn’t it be an option?

Perhaps I’m just not understanding the issue fully, but one way or another, it looks like we are going to be stuck with this dilemma for a while. I try to feel better about it by thinking of it in terms of greater diversity and competition. But really I’m just counting the days until I never have to see the Windows Vista logo ever again.

Jake Pinholster is the professor of media design in the Herberger College School of Theatre & Film at Arizona State University. He can be contacted with comments or questions at