[OS X TeX] Macintouch report on TeX versus Word

David Derbes loki at uchicago.edu
Tue Jan 20 22:20:39 EST 2009

On Jan 20, 2009, at 7:54 PM, Jean-Christophe Helary wrote:

> On mercredi 21 janv. 09, at 10:13, Alain Schremmer wrote:
>> Funny, I always thought I was an optimist … I still do not think  
>> you are right. Macs are an infinitesimal part of the market to  
>> begin with.
> Alain, they are not anymore.
> Recent surveys indicate that Appel machines have about 10% of the  
> computer market share (by checking web access data). I can't find  
> the reference anymore but Apple laptop sales were simply huge  
> compared to the other makes, on the US market.
> http://www.tuaw.com/2009/01/02/apple-market-share-tops-10-windows-share-lowest-since-tracking/
>> OpenOffice was so bad to begin with it sure couldn't get worse.  
>> And, on the Mac, it still is clunky. Not to mention NeoOffice.
> I use both for work. Clunky, but do we compare that to Word 2004 ?  
> To me they compare very well (at least the 3.0 version of OOo and  
> NeoOffice). I had to buy Office 2008 yesterday and it may be a  
> different story here. But by the time a new version of Office is  
> released, they will have catched up. I have no worry about that,  
> their development model is so vastly different.
>> I don't think LaTeX is going to die, just that it severely risks  
>> becoming a quaint hobby for the very few. Like, say, polar bears.  
>> They won't die. There will always be a few in zoos.
> No, I think that markup languages are definitely not going to die,  
> even if they are not XML dialects. They address a different kind of  
> market.
> People who buy (and use) "Office Suites", especially the modern ones  
> à la iWorks, are not in need of LaTeX. What they want is nice  
> looking templates, text placeholders and a print button. There is a  
> huge market for that. The rest of them are cheated into using the  
> suites and when they find LaTeX, either they take the dive and they  
> are thankful, or they find a way to manage their frustrations...

I remember when DOS (or its even earlier ancestor, CP/M) was all we  
had for personal computers. Most people today do not use command line  
interfaces. My guess is that down the road we'll have an even more  
user-friendly version of LaTeX than we have now. Though I use Macs  
exclusively, I don't really care what platform I use down the road,  
only that it be reliable, affordable and intuitive. (Increasingly  
true, IMHO, of Ubuntu and Mac OS X, increasingly not true of Windows.)

As Jean-Christophe wrote above, the Mac installed base is now in the  
US about 10% in the US. I remember when it was about 3%, so I think  
things are improving with respect to Apple. Apple laptops seem to be  
the dominant platform on the ritzy US campuses these days (the Ivies,  
U of Chicago, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, etc.) Part of this is the halo  
effect of the iPod and IPhone, and part of it is frustration with  
Windows-seeking viruses. Whether or not Apple or IBM or Microsoft  
survive, I feel certain that personal computing is here to stay.  
Perhaps stupidly I believe that LaTeX is so superior that it too will  
be here indefinitely, though it might be in a form we would not  
immediately recognize were we suddenly brought twenty years into the  

Maybe it's the Obama administration, but I'm optimistic about a lot of  
things lately.

Best wishes, all.

David Derbes
U of Chicago Lab Schools

> Jean-Christophe Helary
> ------------------------------------
> http://mac4translators.blogspot.com/
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