Should Your Operating System Affect CMS Choice?

The Mac versus PC debate seems to have cooled off in recent years. Gone are the days of Apple computers being viewed as specialty machines for graphic designers and tech newbies, with Windows machines being the only way to get “real” work done.

Today, most software – whether it’s for games, accounting or design – is available for both platforms. Beyond that, much of the work we do is processed and stored in the cloud without relying on the inner workings of our operating systems at all.

So, does that mean operating system is no longer a consideration when choosing a content management system?

Not so fast.

While the majority of the work you do on your website through your CMS will take place inside your browser and not on your desktop, there are still a few key considerations to account for when choosing a CMS.

Source Code Language

Ideally, your CMS works as advertised day in and day out. In the best case scenario, you only interact with the user interface of your CMS and never have to make adjustments or go troubleshooting inside the source code of the application.

But what happens if something goes wrong? Does your team have the skillset and expertise to craft a solution?

While many content management systems offer similar functionality and features, the underlying bones can be very different. Consider Umbraco, which runs on the .NET application framework developed by Microsoft. The source language of .NET platforms is likely to be C# (as it is for Umbraco), which is a Windows language.

On the other hand, PHP-based platforms like Drupal and Joomla, along with Perl platforms like Movable Type, are considerably easier to work with across different operating systems.

Again, on a day-to-day basis, you’ll likely be dealing with the user-facing side of your content management system, which is totally operating-system-independent. If, however, you’re doing your own work on customizing the source code of the CMS or fixing application issues, you’ll want to make sure you’re operating on a platform that’s compatible with your company’s machines.

Browser Inconsistencies

There are very few web browsers unavailable to either Mac or PC users. Regardless of your operating system, you’re free to use the likes of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera and more to surf the web and, more importantly, to make edits to content inside your CMS.

There are, however, some subtle differences between Chrome for Mac and Chrome for Windows. The same applies to Safari, Firefox and the rest of the bunch. A discerning eye will notice inconsistencies in pixel count, some font spacing issues and other CSS variables that differ between the two versions of a given browser.

These sorts of tiny hiccups, unaddressed, can completely compromise the integrity of your design and content.

The most important thing you can do is browser test your content. Using a tool like Cross Browser Testing, explore your content on many different browsers, operating systems and screen sizes.

To fix any discrepancies you discover, you may need to make edits directly to your CSS stylesheet such as setting default padding values or using absolute values for element height that aren’t relative to pixel spacing.

For this reason, you’ll want to adopt a CMS that makes it easy for you to make and implement stylesheet edits. Or better yet, a CMS that takes care of these cross-operating-system browser inconsistencies on its own.

In this scenario, wide adoption is a good thing. Platforms like WordPress, used by millions and millions of people across all devices and operating systems, are well equipped to handle browser inconsistencies.

Security Concerns

Wide adoption, while great for cross-platform content creation, can also have its drawbacks.

By now, we all know about the recent brute force WordPress attacks, where attackers targeted WordPress installs by trying to guess common usernames and passwords, even spreading login attempts between many machines around the globe to circumvent lock-out procedures. Some estimates show that as many as one in every six blogs on the Internet runs on WordPress – making these attacks quite frightening.

Not everyone knows, however, that Mac users were no less vulnerable to these hackers than their Windows counterparts.

For a long time, Macs have been considered to be safer, in general, from attackers and malware. But this outdated perception is beginning to do more harm than good. It’s been shown that Windows users are often more diligent about protection – both on their operating systems and their online properties. Some experts believe Mac users have been lulled into a false sense of security, and it’s leading to greater vulnerability.

It’s true that Macs have traditionally been safer than PCs – but only because they’ve been historically less targeted. That’s all changing. In 2012, a piece of malware called Flashback infected over half a million Apple machines.

To top it all off, these recent CMS attacks aren’t discriminating by operating system.

So how do you know for sure if your CMS is secure? The best way is to look for documentation. Choose a content management system that’s proactive about keeping users informed of fixes, potential threats and extra safety measures they can take.

Movable Type details the security features of its latest build here, while Drupal keeps a running log of all issues as they’re resolved.

If you’re using a Mac, don’t assume that security isn’t important when choosing a CMS. Think like a Windows user and arm yourself with information to keep your data protected.

The Bottom Line

Your operating system should not be a major consideration when choosing a content management system for your organization. But it should be something you’re keenly aware of when scouting potential pitfalls and problem areas associated with your daily workflow.

As detailed above, it’s the little things – the subtle differences between Macs and PCs – that can make a world of difference, whether it’s the location of a pixel or a security loophole that puts your entire organization at risk.

Don’t get caught overlooking these critical details.