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What Should You Buy? A Mac or PC?

Part 3 of a three-part article.
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By now, if you've read parts 1 and 2 of this series, you should know that most people are usually devoted to PCs or to Macs, and that not too many are both. Why is that?

  1. One reason is that most of us buy computers only about every four years or so, and we go with what's familiar. Mac users rarely switch.
  2. Another reason is that most don't change brands either, and switching from one type of computer to another—even if it's really not all that drastic—isn't something that we do willingly.
  3. But the biggest reasons, as we've been saying, are that many people don't really know the difference between a Mac and a PC and they have never explored the differences.

The last article covers, objectively and unemotionally, the differences between a Mac and a PC in several important categories—at least the ones that 1) are important to note, and 2) matter the most to computer users...and computer buyers.

Design

The original Mac didn't look anything like the personal computers of the day. And from 1984 till now, that hasn't changed. Macs are sleek and purposefully designed, inside and out, with care and consideration. PCs, although they're attractive and aren't as clunky as they used to be, focus more on electronics than design considerations. Steve Jobs, who created the Mac, was a design enthusiast who brought an artistic view to both hardware and software. Bill Gates, who created Windows and other software, cared more about functionality. Plus, Microsoft made only computer software. IBM (remember them?) and other computer companies made the hardware.

Price

There's no getting around it: Macs are more expensive. (And PC fans love to point that out.) Or are they? The lowest -priced MacBook laptop will be a minimum of $1,000. You can get a PC laptop for hundreds less. But you need to find out how much a "comparable" PC would be. Then again, there is no "low-end" Mac. Apple chooses to produce only high-end, high-performance computers with better and costlier components. Apple controls everything about production. Remember: Only Apple makes iMacs. There are dozens of PC makers with suppliers of all kinds. And since PCs dominate the market, competition and low price are factors. That means that PC manufacturers may cut out features and get cheaper parts to get your PC dollars. Apple doesn't have that problem.

The operating system

Forget about price and everything else for a second. It's essentially the operating system that differentiates a Mac from a PC—OS for Mac, Windows for all PCs. And for now, let's forget about all the latest versions of the two operating systems and what they're numbered or called. Macs were introduced in 1984 with their own operating system and it definitely wasn't anything like a PC's operating system. In fact, did you know that Windows was essentially an imitation of the Mac OS? Since then, Windows has been trying to close the gap between the two systems with huge upgrades and major changes. The Mac OS has also changed over time, but not as drastically. Which is easier to use? Probably the Mac OS, because it's designed to always be user-friendly. They've been focusing on that goal longer than Microsoft has.

Software/programs/applications

As of early 2014, Apple's share of the home computer market was growing, while all PC manufacturers' sales were shrinking. Still, Apple had only around 14% of the total market. The other PC manufacturers made up the other 86%. Still, Apple is growing in popularity. PCs are so dominant because of the sheer number of different types of computer programs made for Windows. This was true from the beginning, when PCs dominated the "serious" applications, such as spreadsheets. That's the reason some PC users (and Mac haters) never considered the Mac a serious computer. However, since Mac now has all the Microsoft Office Suite programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and more, that's not much of an argument. PCs have a tremendous advantage if you're into games. There are more than 1,300 games for PCs...there are only about 180 games for Macs. Again, don't let numbers sway you one way or the other. Make a list of what programs are important and see which platforms support them.

Safety and security

In general, Macs seem to be more immune to viruses than PCs. The main reason? There are millions more PCs out there, so hackers focus on Windows-based attacks. With a PC, you need to make sure your security software is up to date. That can get tricky with all the programs out there and versions of Windows, and hackers know this about Windows. If you own a Mac, you also need to make sure you're running anti-spam software and being a smart computer user. There have been viruses specifically designed for Macs, and that still can happen, but if you keep your antivirus systems up to date, you should be well protected. That's just the way it is.

It's your choice, so what will it be?

Mac users are often enthusiastic evangelists for their computers. PC users aren't so emotional about their computers. PCs dominate the market and there are hundreds of choices, sometimes at great discounts. There's really no such thing as a "cheap" Mac, and Apple is probably proud of that. They would say that there's nothing cheap about a Mac.

What should you buy? To make the right choice, you should find out for yourself. Set aside time to visit an Apple store or a "big box" electronics store to explore the differences between a Mac and a PC firsthand. Don't be afraid to ask—a salesperson can help. And ask what they use...and why.

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