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Just like with my Android vs. iOS post, I will start this one with a disclaimer that I am a Windows user. I don’t own an Apple computer and don’t often use Mac OS. However, when I do use Mac OS it is an enjoyable experience. The only real reason that I don’t own a Mac is the price tag.
For most of my clients, the choice between Windows and Mac OS comes down to personal preference as both operating systems can handle all the tasks an average user could throw at them. So what factors should you consider when choosing which operating system to run?
Let’s get this one out of the way first. Apple makes premium products with a premium price tag to go with them. They do not cater to consumers looking to pinch pennies. Since they make the hardware, and the software they control every aspect of the process including the price. I’m not a great student of Economics, but I believe that supply and demand and lack of competition allow them to set premium prices. It’s important to note that they also use more metal in their design and metal costs more than the plastic found in most PC designs. In the world of Windows PCs, there are hundreds of manufacturers making similar devices. This causes some heavier competition and lower prices. That’s not to say that there are no Windows machines with high prices. Some manufacturers, including Microsoft with its Surface line, have begun using more premium materials and getting the price up there. They still tend to a bit lower priced than similarly specced Apple devices. As for whether the price is worth it, that’s up to you.
I think compatibility is probably the most important factor when choosing your operating system. It’s pointless to try and use a computer if it won’t work with the software and devices you need to use. Back when I worked at a big box store I would have customers want an Apple computer and then be upset that they couldn’t use Simply Accounting on it. A quick search tells me That Sage 50, the newest version of Simply Accounting is still not compatible with Mac OS. But guess what, there are also programs that Mac users can use that are incompatible with Windows. Ultimately, you need to have an idea of what programs you’d like to use and then we can look into whether they are compatible with the operating system you want. For most programs that aren’t compatible with the Operating System, you can find another program that is compatible with it that will serve the same purpose.
Hardware devices can also be a problem, although, for the last 5-10 years most common printers, cameras and so on have been compatible with both Mac OS and Windows. Many of my clients use iPhone’s and iPad’s and I have noticed that iTunes works a lot more reliably on Apple computers. This is because Apple makes every piece of the equation. They make the hardware of the Computer and the phone, as well as the software of iTunes itself AND the Mac OS operating system. This means they can test it fully. Itunes on Windows has been pretty iffy in my experience.
No matter what Operating System you choose, it’s important to look into compatibility with your software and devices.
Viruses, Malware, and Security
Mac OS wins the virus wars. Although not as soundly as they once did. In years past, it could be said that Mac OS didn’t get any viruses. That isn’t true today, but what is true is that Mac OS has far fewer viruses. The reason is very simple. Fewer people use Apple computers, so writing viruses for them is less profitable. According to netmarketshare.com, Windows Operating Systems accounts for over 90% of the market share, while Mac OS comes in at around 5%. It seems clear that hitting 90% would have a better return on the effort to code than only 5% so most write malicious programs for Windows. I always like to point out that the very first recorded virus was written for old Apple systems and just displayed a poem on the screen. I recommend users of both Mac OS and Windows use an Anti-Virus program and practice safe browsing to help keep their data safe.
Viruses and Malware aren’t the only security threats to your PC. Often bugs and otherwise overlooked problems with the OS itself can leave your computer vulnerable to attack. In the past, Apple hasn’t shown they are always on top of security issues. The number of patches and updates that come to a Windows machine every week show that Microsoft does take security seriously. The updates and the way they are delivered is actually one of the biggest complaints against Windows, especially in Windows 10. But these updates are necessary.
Gaming and Designing
I used to be a pretty avid gamer and I still try to keep up with news in the field. Windows wins PC gaming. Windows supports more graphics cards with higher power. Not only that, Windows has a higher compatibility with games. It’s getting better, but there are still games (including AAA titles) that simply will not run on a Mac OS device. Other times, the game will come out on Mac OS, a year or more after it is available on Windows. If you want to play the latest games, Windows is the answer.
I’m not a designer, but I know that Apple computers are often preferred by those that are. In the 80’s and 90’s you would find that most of the best software for designing was only available on Macs. This has changed and some designers I’ve talked to now prefer to work on a Windows machine citing faster speeds and greater compatibility with devices. That said, most design firms still supply and use Apple computers so if you’re going for a career in Design it’s a good idea to be familiar with Apple computers.
Upgradability and Repair
In general, Windows computers are easier to upgrade and repair with their components being of standard design and readily available. This isn’t always true though. As Windows devices get thinner and lighter the parts get more specialized and often glued in place making repair and upgrades more difficult. The same is true in almost all Apple computers. If you take your average Windows tower and compare it to an Apple iMac it is easy to see which one will be more easy to change or replace parts in. As a general rule, Windows computers win this category, but there are exceptions to this. The same design qualities that make an Apple computer attractive make it hard to repair and the same is true for Windows machines that follow that design look.
With hundreds of manufacturers making Windows PCs, plus the ability to build one from thousands of available components in endless configurations, Windows has infinite more flexibility than the 5 Computer lines from Apple – MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac Pro, iMac and Mac Mini. As for flexibility, being able to choose parts and find a machine with just exactly what you want, Windows wins. But for many, the more simple approach from Apple makes life easier. The choices available in the Windows PC market can be almost paralyzing. With thousands of choices, finding the right one can be a challenge. With Apple, if you have an iMac that’s 4 years old and you want to replace it, you’d probably look at the current iMacs with their handful of configuration options (each option at a different price point so a budget can often dictate your choice) and away you go!
Again, with user experience, it really comes down to personal preference. Many people find Mac OS to be more intuitive and simple to navigate and use. They find things like the dock make perfect sense and are easy to use. However, as someone who has used primarily Windows operating systems for the past 20+ years, I find things on Mac OS somewhat difficult. I would never think to double-click on a document’s title to rename it, but that’s how it’s done in Mac OS. At the same time, double-clicking on a document’s name to rename DOES seem like a simpler way to do it than clicking ‘File’ and then ‘Save As’ and finally typing in the new name. It really comes down to what you are used to. If you don’t have experience on either system, a Mac might be easier to learn. If you are familiar with one or the other and decide to make the switch, expect a bit of a learning curve.
Out of the Box Enjoyment
I think that the Mac OS experience is nicer out of the box. I’m talking about the first time you hook it up and turn it on. The setup process is more enjoyable and there are fewer updates waiting for you once you’re set up. The other thing I really like about the Mac OS experience is the lack of bloatware. On a Windows PC, you’ll almost always have it bogged down with Trial software and other useless software. The manufacturers have deals with software makers and get paid to put this software on your PC. The idea is for you to get to find new software you like. More often, it’s just annoying and actually decreases performance on your PC. Of course, this bloatware can be removed but it hinders the out of box experience, and sadly many people don’t know how to remove it so it remains on their systems, slowing them down. If you need help with bloatware removal, please contact me and we’ll get you cleaned up.
As I mentioned at the outset, the Operating System you chose is a personal one and should fit your needs. The only real reasons to pick one over the other is particular software compatibility and possibly the need to go with Windows if you’re a gamer.
If you need help figuring out which Operating System is best for you, or what specific features you need, I can help. Y-Not Tech Services offers a new computer consultation service. Contact me for more information or to set up an appointment.
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