Windows vs Mac… Who Cares?

Posted By BrokenClaw on September 2, 2007

Okay, so there are thousands of websites and blog posts which discuss, or argue, the rivalry between Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh computers. The problem with all of these arguments is that there is no point of argument. By that I don’t mean that there is no purpose (point) in arguing, but rather that there is no common assertion (point) to be debated. Windows is an operating system that can be installed and run on a wide variety of manufacturers’ hardware. A Macintosh is a computer built by the Apple company which only runs Apple’s own operating system (currently OS X), natively. In other words, a Macintosh (hereafter called a Mac) is a closed system, and Windows is a completely open system.

So what exactly is the point to be argued?

  1. That the Macintosh has better hardware than a Dell, a Gateway, a Hewlett-Packard, an Acer, an eMachine, a Falcon Northwest, a Lenovo, a Voodoo, an Alienware, a Sony? Which one? Or are we arguing…
  2. That Windows is a better operating system than OS X? How can you compare two systems that have completely opposite goals? Windows is designed to run on any of the above-named systems or on anything else you can throw together from parts off the shelf. OS X only runs on Apple systems. Or are we arguing…
  3. That a computer user would be better off with a Mac than with a computer running Windows? There are a lot of variables to factor into that decision which can change the answer.

Mac users tend to be very passionate about their computer choice. What I mean is that some of them are very vocal in defending the qualities of their Mac. They’ll use the word love to describe their relationship with their computer. Just put “love my Mac” in Google and you’ll get about a hundred thousand results. Those same people, usually male in gender, tend to be faithful to the Apple logo as well, hence, the term Apple fanboy. They will purchase any product which has an Apple logo, and they dismiss any criticism of those products as coming from an Apple-hater. The fallacy of that attitude is that there are no Apple-haters. Why would anyone care enough about a piece of hardware to invoke hate of the company who makes it? Only a self-proclaimed Apple-lover can imagine the existence an Apple-hater.

It is often said that the opposiste of love is apathay, not hate, and the same is true here.

The vast majority of Windows users tend to be less passionate. They tend not to get involved in this debate because, quite frankly, they don’t view their computer choice as a vote for Microsoft. It’s just the computer they bought at the store. They have no particular allegiance to Microsoft and probably couldn’t even name another Microsoft product.

A co-worker of mine once came to me and expressed her desire to have “Microsoft” put on her computer, which, of course, was already running on Microsoft Windows XP. After some further questioning, I realized that what she wanted was the Microsoft Office suite.

Most home users have probably never even seen a Mac, because Apple doesn’t sell Macs in home electronics departments, and none of their family members have a Mac. If the computer at the store came with Linux, they’d probably not notice that there was no Windows logo on the box, and if they saw a big LINUX sticker, they wouldn’t know what it meant anyway.

At one time, Apple ruled the personal computer market. They practically gave them away to schools so that kids’ first computer experience was an Apple computer. But, like youth soccer in America, they were never able to catch on to the adult market. Apple chose to remain a closed system while the IBM personal computer, running Microsoft’s operating system, became so open that anyone could build one, which meant they would also run Microsoft’s operating system. As a result, a Microsoft system was much less expensive than an Apple system. And cost drives the mass market.

I remember when a friend of mine was sending his son to college to study engineering. His son told him he had to have a Mac, which at the time cost about $5000. That same year IBM-compatible computers were selling for about $1200.

Today the Mac’s pricetag has become more competitive. It’s still a premium machine, but there are more expensive Windows machines, especially those built for video games. But that’s really the point. The normal consumer sees Windows machines in the store starting at about $400. They don’t know what they want, and they don’t know what they need. They just go by the price. Only computer-savvy buyers go online and customize a Windows machine with high-end components that drive the price up.

Windows runs about 90% of the computers sold in the US. Apple computers no longer fill the classrooms. Most business software is written for Windows, so Macs have a hard time making mass sales to large businesses. Historically, Macs have found their niche in the multimedia arena — music, photos, audio and video editing. Macs are overwhelmingly the choice for those professionals. That’s why you’ll see an inordinate number of Macs and Apple logos in movies and on TV. It is still one of their main selling points to consumers as well.

While Mac users passionately extoll the virtues of their Mac, deep down, they don’t want you to become a Mac user. If you did, and Macs became as pervasive as Windows PCs, then the Mac would lose its place on the pedestal. Mac users would lose their identity…

“You have a Mac? Yeah, my grandmother uses one to check her email.”

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