A quarter (25 per cent) of Macworld Online readers voting in this week's poll think that the advantage most likely to convince PC users to switch to Mac is fewer viruses.

One reader observes: "PC users find it very hard to believe that there are absolutely no viruses for Mac OS X. Even when told categorically, they still can't really believe it, but when they start seeing that we just use our Macs and don't have to nurse them through the latest security scare, it makes a big impression."

However a pessimistic 13 per cent think that nothing will convince a PC user to switch. Most blame lack of software applications and compatibility problems as the reason why Macs aren't more popular.

One points out that although MS office is available for the Mac: "To get mass migration Apple need compelling business applications like Outlook/Exchange and a complete version of Office including Project, Access and Visio."

In the waiting room

Another 13 per cent think that Mac OS X is most likely to convince a PC user to switch, especially since Microsoft does not anticipate delivering Longhorn (dubbed Longwait by one reader) before 2005.

Design and innovation is the feature that 12 per cent of readers expect will pull PC users towards Apple. This goes hand-in-hand with Apple's publicity expertise, which 13 per cent of voters said would help make PC users switch.

Most voters disagree with Time Magazine's prediction that the new iMac is more likely to make people switch than Apple's switch campaign. The G5 iMac is thought to be the biggest pull by 8 per cent of readers, while the iPod is selected as a top switch influencer by another 8 per cent.

Only 1 per cent of users think that iLife is enough to convince PC users of the merits of Mac. However, as one forum user notes: "My son thinks GarageBand is a good reason to switch younger people tend to like the products that enable their lifestyle - iPod, iMac, GarageBand those are the reasons they are switching."

Another reader observes: "The iApps are a tremendous advantage. Superficially, many PC users imagine that equivalent apps are available on PCs, but when they start using the iApps, they discover that not all apps are created equal."

Switching on

There are many reasons why PC users may consider switching to Mac, and 6 per cent of voters went for the "Something else" option. These factors include pricing, something that one reader suggested "will certainly help sales".

He explains: "The previous generation of iMacs were too expensive to entice people away from PCs. The current pricing harks back to the levels set during the successful launch of the first iMacs."

Another reader agrees: "I think the price is important, lots of people like the look of Macs but don't really want to pay a premium. I think £900 is the most significant feature that will get people on board with the iMac."

Readers may like to note that Apple launched its first sub-£500 Mac, the entry-level eMac, this year.

Productivity is a benefit that others promote. "What really matters is the productivity of the computer. How much quicker it is to do the same job with a Mac," says one.

Another popular reason to switch is portability, according to a reader who switched for just that reason. He explains: "I switched because the PowerBook offered the portability solution for me that heavy Intel-based notebooks didn't."

One reader hints at another reason why PC users might switch: "They got a PC because it was what their friends had, and they'll get Macs when they see their friends using them."