OS X VS. Windows By Josh Blagden | JB - Mac Help | JBlagden

OS X VS. Windows By Josh Blagden

There are many different reasons for going with either a Windows PC or a Mac.  These include:

Hardware Cost

Software Cost


Device Compatibilty 

File Compatibility (for sharing documents) 

Ease of Use


One nice thing about Macs is that the User Interface isn’t changed in each new version of the operating system; new functionality is added, but very little is moved or changed(besides OS X Yosemite). Another advantage is that Macs are invulnerable to viruses, they can only get malware which you willingly, or at least unsuspectingly install(Refer to How to Scan for Malware). 

As of 2013, operating system upgrades are free. You can actually save about $1400 in software costs by using a Mac by means of alternatives to programs you normally wouldn’t have with Windows, such as iWork(or even LibreOffice) in place of Microsoft Office, iMovie in place of Adobe Premier, iPhoto, Pixelmator in place of Photoshop and Sandvox in place of Adobe Dreamweaver, as well a not having to pay $50 every year for antivirus software. You can also save money on software licensing because software which is purchased on the Mac App Store can be used on all of a person’s or organization’s Macs without having to pay extra for additional license.

As far as file compatibility goes, Macs can use Microsoft Office documents even without Microsoft Office installed. It can work with Microsoft Office documents with iWork, which we will discuss later. Macs work with JPEGs, PDFs and many other standard file types. They are great for design work because of the way they handle colors and bitmapped images, which is why they're commonly used by those in the design industry. In fact, Photoshop was actually made originally for Macs because of the way Macs work with bitmapped images. Macs are also very easy to use, which is why many older people will use them in place of Windows PCs as well as the barely changing User Interface. The search function is also a very useful function. Usually, just by typing two or three letters into the Spotlight search bar, you can easily find the file you’re looking for. This is a huge improvement compared to the Windows 7 search bar, which requires that you enter the Windows Explorer before you can use it, and also the Windows XP search bar, which is barely functional. 

At face value, Macs are more expensive than Windows PCs, but software costs can effectively change that, as well as viruses. Suppose you paid $400 for a Windows PC, which got a virus and it would cost $400 in labor to get the virus removed and the software reinstalled. If you get it repaired,  you’ll have already spent $800. At that rate, you might as well buy a new computer.  For $100 more, you could get a 13 inch MacBook Air with a 1.4 gigahertz processor and a  128 gigabyte Solid State Drive. Or, for $500 more, you could get a 15 inch MacBook with a Retina display, a 2.6 gigahertz processor and a 128 gigabyte Solid State Drive. However, Windows supporters do have a few arguments against Macs. They have three main complaints, two of which are not factual, but rather a matter of opinion, or are circumstantial˚:

 1. Macs aren’t good for gaming, which simply isn’t true. That claim is only true for the MacBook Air, 13 inch MacBook Pro, Mac Mini and 21.5 inch iMac, which lack dedicated graphics cards. The 27 inch iMac, 15 inch MacBook Pro and Mac Pro all have dedicated graphics cards. Additionally, through Thunderbolt, an external graphics card can be connected(see Graphics Cards). As if that wasn’t good enough, Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan will include Apple’s Metal API, which was already introduced in iOS 8 last year. For those of you who don’t know, Metal is a graphics API which significantly improves graphics performance by having more direct access to graphics hardware and can reduce processor usage by up to 50%. Metal has already been adopted by Adobe and Blizzard, which is pretty good considering that OS X El Capitan won’t be released until the fall. Apple could have just waited to adopt Nvidia’s Vulkan API, but that would take at least a year, and the goal of OS X El Capitan is to improve performance, along with a number of under-the-hood improvements. Besides, it’s better than waiting a year for an improvement which can be done now. Apple could always include support for Vulkan later. In the very least, Metal will improve performance in the meantime. Metal can be adopted by companies which are willing to do so now, and Vulkan can be adopted by companies which don’t want to have to go through a lot of effort optimizing their games for different platforms, especially since the assumption is that most gamers use Windows machines. Besides, improving graphics performance with the Metal API may also help to eliminate the belief that Macs aren’t good for gaming, more so if the process of setting up an eGPU is simplified.

2. There aren’t many games for Macs. Admittedly, I’m not much of a gamer, but I haven’t come across a game that was only available on Windows in years. And those who do want to play a Windows game on a Mac can always run Windows on a partition.

3. Macs are too expensive. This is the biggest and most common complaint among Windows supporters. I understand where they’re coming from. I have to admit that Macs are a bit expensive. At the least expensive, a MacBook Pro costs about twice as much as a Windows PC**. However, the ten-year lifespan evens that out by lasting twice as long as a PC**. However, the software costs alone even that out as well. Besides, another thing to consider is the cost and frequency of repairs. With a Mac, repairs are free as long as the AppleCare plan is still valid, and the repair isn’t needed due to accidental damage. Repairs are very rarely needed, while PCs** could require service as often as every year. At $100 an hour, a Windows PC can easily rack up repair bills in excess of $300, which can negate the cost savings after a year or two.


PCs** are, of course, very compatible with other PCs, which is why a lot of people will buy them(aside from cost and not knowing about Macs), though if they’re aware of Macs, they’ll buy PCs due to price. Also, they have the advantage of low hardware cost. However, software for PCs tends to be expensive and without low cost alternatives such as Pixelmator in place of Photoshop and iWork in place of Microsoft Office. One could easily spend over $900 on software alone for a PC just by buying the entry-level version of Microsoft Office and Photoshop CS6. Windows is also susceptible to innumerable viruses and malware, the number of which only continues to grow. Also, due to the high cost of Windows upgrades, many people will not upgrade to the latest operating system. There still exists a large number of people who are still using XP, which just lost support in 2014 and as a result is more susceptible to viruses and malware than it ever has in its entire existence.

Though, it depends on what you’re going to do with your computer. If you’re just going to play games and encode media, Windows is better for a number of reasons:

1. Better driver support - especially useful when you want to use the newest graphics cards as soon as they’re available instead of having to wait for the OS X drivers

2. Low-cost hardware

3. Better upgradeability 

4. Supports more hardware

5. DirectX has existed for 10+ years and is used in most Windows games

6. Better availability of games as well as better compatibility of older ones, due to Apple’s switch from PowerPC to Intel in 2006

** I know “PC” stands for “Personal Computer”, but when you’re talking about Macs and Windows machines, IBM clones which run Windows are referred to as “PCs”. By the way, an IBM clone is any computer which is not a Mac. They’re called IBM clones because companies like HP and Dell based their designs on IBM computers. They lowered the cost of the design by only using the critical components and jettisoning parts which can be eschewed. 

˚By circumstantial, I mean that it depends on the Mac in question.

© Joshua Blagden & Justin Barczak 2013-2015
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