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Penn's campus is approximately 70% Mac, as students skew towards Apple computers and study rooms and libraries get equipped with the newest iMacs.

Credit: Lizzy Machielse

Most incoming freshmen are faced with the ever-important question: Mac or PC? In study rooms and classrooms alike, Penn seems to be an Apple-dominated campus. Spotting a single PC in a sea of glowing Apple laptops is a common occurrence.

Data confirms that Penn buys into the Apple cult. “Our student population has leaned Mac over the last few years and that continued this fall," Client Technologies Lead John Mulhern III said. "Though we have no way of knowing if a system that logs onto our networks is student, faculty or staff, we are comfortable with saying that our overall student population is approximately 70 percent Mac."

Mulhern explained that professional schools often have a significantly higher percentage of PCs, especially in master’s and doctorate programs. The divide isn’t quite as clear among Penn’s different undergraduate schools, he added.

“Some schools have courses of study that are still at least somewhat operating system-specific,” he said.

Nursing junior Rebekah Lynn Weber uses an MSI, a PC brand, that “works alright” for nursing. But she said specific operating systems crucial to the nursing program are difficult to use on her MSI.

“It is hard because there are some weird operating systems we have to use and I am not tech savvy, so a lot of the time I use the computers in the Nursing building,” Weber said.

Wharton and Engineering sophomore Krishna Bharathala thinks that Macs are better for computer science majors like himself because there are so many built-in compilers that translate computer code. Bharathala also owns a PC but prefers his Apple laptop.

But others say there is a stigma against Macs in engineering. Wharton and Engineering sophomore Sonia Kumar thinks engineers see them as less “tech-y,” but overall, she believes people who use Macs tend to prefer the operating system.

“The problem with Macs is that they tend to have more bugs,” Kumar said. She has found that when software is specifically designed for Macs, it operates smoothly, but it often doesn’t work as seamlessly with programs not originally built for Macs, like Microsoft Office.

Penn’s Information Systems and Computing office offered free Microsoft Office for all students as part of a larger ongoing effort called PennO365. As described on the ISC website, Penn O365 is the University’s cloud-based email and calendaring service that is available to every school and center on an opt-in basis.

This year, Penn has also made significant changes in accessible technology on campus, including a new iMac for every Weigle Information Commons booth in Van Pelt Library. After recent complaints of slow computers on the ground floor of Van Pelt, the electronic lookup computers were updated, and they now go from sleeping to startup in 30 seconds.

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