Oh My Tech!: Should all your devices be on the same platform?
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I have an old and slow desktop computer using a Microsoft system, no pad/tablet, and a Samsung Galaxy phone. I am prepared to upgrade all elements. So, I would like to know how to make a seamless integration and upgrade of these various functions to bring myself into the 21st century. That would involve a new telephone, pad/tablet and desktop computer. What I think makes sense is to go Apple all the way, meaning an iPhone, iPad and a Mac desktop. But, maybe there is little advantage to this. What I have now is using the Windows XP operating system and MSN Internet Explorer for Internet and email functions. If there is a benefit to using one manufacturer, it would be helpful to know that. Does it make any difference if it is Android vs. an iPhone. — Ray Freer

I would like to congratulate Ray for fulfilling a tech geek's dream —being able to buy all that hardware at once. It's my idea of heaven — or great sex.

Anyway, he's right in that there are some things to consider before just jumping in and getting everything at once. The first step is figuring out what format to go with, either Windows or Mac.

Because he's already been using Windows, he should see if he wants to keep using any of the software he has. That might help him determine if he should stay with Windows. If the programs are especially old ­— say six or seven years — then he has to consider whether any will be 100 percent compatible with Windows 8 should he jump to that operating system. Mind you, he should also be able to run nearly any Windows program on a Mac computer through its built-in feature called Boot Camp, but there's no guarantee all of his programs will work.

If he likes Windows, he should be aware that it's a huge jump from Windows XP to Windows 8, and there probably will be a big learning curve, but he'll be familiar with the basics.

For work and lifestyle use, my personal choice is the Mac. The computer is easier to use, it has less of an issue with security and viruses or malware, and it interfaces well with the iPhone and iPad, the most popular smartphone and computer tablet on the market. The Mac is wonderful for things such as photo editing, music management with iTunes, video editing, and burning video DVDs.

At home, I have both a PC, which I use mostly for gaming, and an iMac, for my kids' school work. Ray should also ask himself what he will be using the computer, his phone and tablet for, and then figure out which platform will have the best software for his needs. If he plans on using the desktop a lot for work, which format will have the best programs?

On the question of whether all of your devices should be of the same platform, it depends.

If you go with a Windows-based desktop computer, it's OK to get a phone or tablet of any type, say a Blackberry, Android phone or iPad. They should provide no compatibility issues, and I've found the Android operating system to be a bit easier to use with a Windows PC than with a Mac anyway. There also isn't a greater advantage to owning a Windows Mobile Phone just because you have a Windows PC. I wouldn't recommend a Windows phone,anyway, because of its lack of meaningful apps.

On the other hand, if you decide to go with a Mac desktop or laptop, I would recommend going with an iPhone and an iPad as opposed to any other type of mobile device. That's because they are designed to work best with a Mac (although they do work OK with a PC).

There are some advantages to staying within the Apple ecosystem.

If you have an iPhone, it's best to get an iPad because both use the same operating system, and if you learn how to use one, you will know how to use the other. Also, if you buy an app for one device, you can use it on the other without having to pay for it twice.

One problem with me recently going to an Android phone after years on the iPhone is that I have had to re-purchase a number of apps for my HTC One that I already bought for my iPhone and iPad. Additionally, iTunes, the music and video management software for the iPhone and iPad, works better on a Mac than on Windows. And iTunes doesn't work with Android devices.

Ultimately, things just flow better and with less hassle between Apple's devices and a Mac computer. That's something worth considering when setting up new tech.

If you have a tech question for Vince, email him at ohmytech@sltrib.com, and he'll try to answer it for his column in The Salt Lake Tribune or on its website. For an archive of past columns, go to www.sltrib.com/topics/ohmytech.