The battle between Mac and Windows has raged since Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs competed for market share in the personal computer market during the 1980s. Although Microsoft's Windows operating system gained most of the available market share during the 1990s, Apple has actually grown their market share over the past few years, from less than 4 percent just six years ago to more than 8 percent today.
While there are die-hard fans for both operating systems, the fact of the matter is that each system has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Choosing the right computer depends on the needs for the computer and who will use it.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Windows
Microsoft has long focused on enterprise customers, which means the level of support provided to that segment of the market is unparallelled. The other main strength is the fact that Windows is compatible with most other software and devices -- even Mac computers. Windows is also fairly simple to use.
The key weakness is that Windows computers are at a far higher risk for viruses and other security threats. This has a little to do with the operating system itself, stemming instead from the deep market penetration that allows hackers to get more "bang for their buck" with Windows exploits.
Who Typically Prefers a Windows Computer?
Windows is the operating system of choice for most large companies thanks to its compatibility and its ability to be customised under the hood to serve whatever unique purposes the company needs. It is also preferred for those who want (or need) to be as compatible as possible with software, hardware, and peripheral devices.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Macs
Mac fans consider OS X the best-looking and most functional operating system ever made. It is easy to use, looks gorgeous, and almost never crashes. This is largely because Apple keeps tight reigns on the manufacturing process for each component within their computers. Apple also creates both the hardware and software for their computers, ensuring maximum compatibility. These strengths are something Windows, which is almost purely a software company, cannot claim.
The downside is that Macs are typically more expensive than their Windows counterparts. Macs aren't compatible with certain accessories and a significant number of software applications. Users who must operate Windows-only software can run a "virtual" Windows OS on a Mac, but the program won't work to its maximum potential.
Who Typically Prefers a Mac Computer?
Mac computers are typically preferred by entrepreneurs, small business owners, and other creative types. The simplicity of the operating system along with the creativity-inducing aesthetics makes it the computer of choice for that market segment. Mac computers are also very popular amongst university students, as they offer a simple computing platform that is reliable and will perform all the functions a student would need, such as web browsing, word processing, and being compatible with most (if not all) academic software.
Making a decision
When browsing online retailers, it is important to consider what the computer will be used for. The needs of a liberal arts undergraduate student are far different from the needs of the IT director at a large corporation. While an undergraduate student is most concerned with factors like battery life and ease of use, an IT director needs to be able to customise the operating system and ensure its compatibility with software and hardware across the enterprise. Ultimately, both operating systems are excellent products, and the choice between them usually boils down to personal preference.