It's hard to pick a start to this war. Apple was first in providing a personal computer between the two. But the IBM was really the first model designed for business. The hardware was really not the driving force between either version of personal computer, it was software. First with the operating system, then with the application software. I know that PC stands for personal computer but we're going to refer to the IBM / MS DOS / Windows personal computer as the PC for this article.
The IBM guys really did not care about the home user, where as Apple was dedicated to that market. Software developers often worked both sides of the street and the war was on officially. Some programmers developed applications for both sides, some stuck to their chosen favorite. But the battle was back and forth depending on the newest software and features. Then IBM made a decision to adopt a new operating system for the IBM PCs rather than write their own. Enter Mr. Gates and Microsoft.
Apple made some inroads into the business world, the now famous MAC 1984 commercial for the first Macintosh PC that showed a heroine wearing red shorts and an Apple t-shirt running through an Orwellian world to throw a sledgehammer at an image of Big Brother, an embodied representation of IBM and PCs. It was quickly picked up as the winner of commercials that year for the super bowl.
And it started to define the two separate markets and demographics. The cool side went for the Apple PCs, the business suit guys went for the IBM PCs. Lotus 123, the first major spreadsheet software to be embroidered by the business community exploded the world of PCs.
Apple quickly lost ground since the business world bought computers by the 100s rather than one at a time like consumers. Plus IBM had a huge advantage of millions of terminals that could have been replaced by the PC. And the PC now had access to mainframes applications and data by local PC applications. But Apple went after the specialty areas like video and music and quickly became the computer of choice for the entertainment and arts industries.
And then Windows 95 came out (there were earlier versions but they were a joke). It closely mimicked many of the Apple OS features with mice and windows for each application. Apple went nuts and filed lawsuits against Microsoft. But, one small detail was brought out that actually the whole graphical interface with a mouse was invented by Douglas Engelbart of the Augmentation Research Center, Stanford Research Institute and was patented back in 1964.
Anyways, the war continues today with different but similar looking graphical operating systems and mindsets. Apple and Microsoft still go after each other with vengeance and many followers of both sides are dedicated to say the least. So lets try an unbiased look at both the PC and the MAC personal computers.
These are not personal opinions, I like both and think that each has their weak and strong points. No hate mail from either sides please. Opposing view points welcome but keep the emotional tirades to a minimum. I do computer repair for a living and work on both. I do a lot more PC repair I'll admit but some of that is due to the sheer numbers of units out there.
Apple / Mac Pros: Very few security issues, viruses, malware, etc. Operating system is easier to learn for novices (that's not me that's research by independent labs). You do not have to reboot a MAC, and there are few, if any boot problems when you do. You can now run Windows on a Mac as well as on any PC. Multitouch technology (the ability to stretch, pinch, rotate, etc). Long active life, many last for well past 5 years.
Apple / Mac Cons: Pricey, most apple products get a premium price. Not easily upgradeable, nor many options. IMac series is screen / computer combo unit so if it breaks, you need to replace both. Not as much software, many software prices are higher.
Windows PC Pros: Low priced, many options. Huge selection of software, lots of specialty verticle applications. Media, especially Tivo like services are much easier and available. Not proprietory in a way that keeps out competition. Universal use. Games run better and more are available.
Windows PC Cons: Primary target for viruses and malware, lots of security issues. Learning curve on operating system and software. Windows can often kill itself due both backwards compatible issues and open architecture. Lots of boot problems. Low prices drive up quality control issues and high failure rates of components.
Two recent developments that have changed the scenery somewhat is that Apple bought out the Mac Mini that sells for under $ 1000 (well under dependent on configuration) and now also runs Windows (as fast as many PC machines). Both those factors bode well for the future of Apple.
And Microsoft is bringing out the long awaited Windows 7, which is the release that Vista was supposed to be back two years ago. I've played with Windows 7 and the good news is I do not see any of the compatibility issues of new Windows OS releases of the past.
In case you did not notice, the strong points of one side are the weak points of the other and vice versa. A closed proprietary system eliminates many possible problems but limits competition. An open architecture spurs competition but can create many problems. From the support side, closed is a good thing, open is the Wild West since any software problem can break the rules and the operating software.
User interfaces are a very personal and subjective area. Those who like the Mac interface love the Mac interface. And Windows has its huge fan base too. I think it boils down to what each user is comfortable with and if the software is available to accomplish their given tasks.
Any new user or even experienced users in the market for a new computer should try out both a Mac and PC. Make a decision based on hands on experience and available software features to satisfy their daily needs. There's really no right or wrong decision, just one you need to make based on what works for you.