...and in this corner the Macintosh.
If you've owned a television and lived in the United States over the past year you've likely seen Apple Computer's “Get a Mac” series of commercials that feature a hip Justin Long portraying a Mac and a stodgy John Hodgman portraying a PC. In the commercials the PC and the Mac couldn't seem more different, but are they really all that different from one another?
Many manufacturers build and sell PCs, so for the sake of this comparison we will identify a PC as a desktop computer that is installed with the Microsoft Windows Operating System and can be purchased at big box stores like STAPLES, Circuit City, or Wal-Mart. The PC of today is the evolved and refined machine that was once known back in the 1980s as the IBM personal computer.
A PC is fairly inexpensive. A new machine will often be priced at, or below one-thousand dollars. PCs are the most common type of personal computer sold today. They comprise more than 90% of the world market for personal computers. The most ubiquitous operating system installed on them is the Windows platform, created by software giant Microsoft. Vista, introduced in January 2007 is Microsoft's most recent version of the Windows operating system. It has developed detractors who think that it is a troublesome operating system because they see it as an OS that is problem plagued, bug-ridden, and requiring unusually high system specifications in order to be used as Microsoft intended. Because a generic PC is built using a process that is called horizontal integration, some of the problems Vista experiences are not entirely the fault of Microsoft. Horizontal integration is a term used in the computer manufacturing industry to describe when one manufacturer creates the hardware of a computer while a second company creates the software that operates on the computer. In theory the products should work seamlessly, but in reality that is not often the case. Microsoft produces Windows one way, but it is forced to exist on a multitude of system hardware configurations which may or may not have been optimized for its use.
Bloatware , also known as crapware, is another negative side effect associated with Windows being installed on generic hardware PCs, as built by companies like Dell and Hewlett Packard (HP). Bloatware is a piece of free or trial software that is pre-installed on a computer system by a hardware manufacturer like Dell in return for a fee paid by the software developers who created the product or service. Admittedly, the extra funding source they provide make it possible for computer hardware manufacturing companies like Dell and HP to produce machines that are more affordable for the general public. Bloatware frequently comes at the expense of a pleasant user experience because the pieces of software usually require additional fees to unlock full functionality. Additionally, bloatware can slow down a brand new system because of the valuable system resources they occupy. They can also be difficult to remove. If users are unable to remove a rarely used or neglected piece of bloatware, they can potentially become subjected to bothersome update and registering notifications.
Just a few years ago determining whether or not you enjoyed playing video games on your computer could determine whether or not you were going to need to buy a PC. If you purchased a new computer in order to play video games prior to January, 2006, you were forced to buy a PC because a majority of the games were only available for the Windows operating system. With the advent of system virtual machines users now have more choices about what type of computer system they may play their video games on. System virtual machines (VM) assist gamers with this problem because they grant a user the ability to use multiple operating systems on one machine, even simultaneously, without conflict. So, if you are a gamer, and you bought a Mac recently, you could still play most of the Windows based games out there if you are willing to install a version of the Windows XP or the Windows Vista operating systems within a hard drive partition created by a virtual machine software package like Parallel's Desktop for Mac, VMWare's Fusion, or Apple, Inc.'s Boot Camp.
The Macintosh, or the Mac as it is known, is a luxury, premium computer manufactured by Apple, Inc. Offered to the public in 1984, it was the first personal computer offered to consumers that featured a graphical user interface, a keyboard, and a mouse. Prior to Macs, most users were forced to program their computers with a keyboard at the command line. Apple Macs are generally more expensive than their Windows based machine counterparts. The price of nearly every desktop computer offered by Apple, Inc. exceeds more than one-thousand dollars. Unlike the PC, the Mac is a desktop that is vertically integrated, which means that Apple, Inc. makes, refines, and designs both the hardware and the software that come with a Mac. This process allows Apple, Inc. to have complete quality control over each stage of the design, and it also give them the opportunity to maximize the synergy between the hardware and software systems resulting in a very enjoyable consumer experience that lacks the typical bugs and problems that are common to a PC built for the Windows operating system.
As well built as Macs are, it should come as a surprise that they only occupy about 9.5 percent of the U.S. national market share. Ironically, this small market share affords Mac owners a more secure environment on their computer than the comparable generic systems built for the Microsoft Windows platform because the creators of computer viruses and worms do not have as much incentive to make their troublesome products for such a marginal user base in the personal computer market. So a Mac user is much more unlikely to have their computer crash, or have their data compromised by a security flaw.
Every Mac comes pre-loaded with the iLife suite at no extra cost. The iLife suite is a collection of popular software programs that allows one to create, design, and publish their creative efforts. These programs include Garageband, which allows the user to create your own music, iMovie, which allows the user to make their own movies, iPhoto, which allows the user to organize their photos, and iWeb, which allows a user to design and publish their own website or websites. Each of these pieces of software are fully functional and do not offer the annoyances of bloatware. Furthermore, Apple refuses to install bloatware on any of their machines.
Macs are also the choice of the world's top creative professionals in the fields of film, music, and art because the machine has been optimized to work more efficiently with film frames, sound files, and graphical images. The most popular programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator were first designed for the Macintosh because of these capabilities. A Mac also makes sense if you are an owner of other popular Apple products such as the iPhone, iPod, or Apple TV, because they seamlessly work with one another through the Mac.
If a user absolutely must buy the cheapest solution upfront, then it is possible for one to save up to seven hundred dollars off of an entry level PC desktop if one does not mind all of the obstacles that impede a great user experience with the Windows based PC. But, on the other hand, if these obstacles do annoy you, then perhaps you might benefit from making your next computer desktop purchase a Mac.