PC or Mac?

The great thing about computer geeks has to be the passionate way that they can either loyally defend or implacably slate a particular system; fanatics are polarised so much by two competing platforms that only very rarely can some kind of sensible middle ground ever exist.

I remember when I was younger, talk in the playground often turned to which console was best, your Sega Megadrive or your mates Super Nintendo - You can guarantee that if I were a fly on the wall in a school today, that the same kind of discussion would still be raging between the X-Box and Playstation gamers.

A similar kind of discussion, ‘which is superior, the PC or the Apple Mac?’ has been burning between adult computer users for several decades now.Personally I don’t have the time to worry about the issue a great deal, nor do I feel the need to militantly argue my points in forums all over the Internet but clearly many enthusiasts do; a simple Google search for ‘PC vs Mac’ returns hundreds of thousands of matches.

The debate has been taken to a new level by a series of adverts recently commissioned by Apple in which the two comedians Mitchell and Webb take on the rolls of the two systems; Mitchell acts as a PC and Webb as an Apple Mac.

In these adverts the two ‘systems’ compare their features and of course, PC comes off looking like a a boring, inefficient dinosaur while Apple Mac humiliates him and generally comes off looking a little too smug.I’m not certain that any of the adverts would tempt me to move over to the Apple Mac platform but I suppose the real question is, if you look behind the advertising, is the Mac really better?

So we can understand the two platforms a little better we should probably look at how they have developed and changed over the years.Hopefully this will somehow justify Apples name calling and rationalise them insulting pretty much everything about the machine that the large majority of us use on a daily basis.

What most users would come to term ‘PC’ refers to one of the many machines evolved from the original IBM Personal Computer which was introduced back in 1981.The success of this machine can be predominately attributed to the fact that IBM decided on an open architecture so that other manufactures could produce and sell peripherals and software for the machine.The rather loose copyrighting and availability of technical specifications meant that it didn’t take long before other manufacturers reverse engineered the BIOS to produce their own legal IBM PC ‘clones’.This lead to the PC standard being adopted and developed by a number ofcompeting companies which of course had a positive impact on the range of devices and software available for the machine as well as reducing prices.

Nowadays IBM, the original founders of the platform have relatively little influence on the development of the PC as it is continually evolved by the thousands of companies who manufacture the computers, peripherals and software which are compatible with this open standard.

On completely the opposite end of the scale is Apple who released their first Personal Computer, the ‘Macintosh’ back in 1984.Since this time, Apple have been the only company to manufacture, sell and support the Mac which of course means that they have full control over the brand including the Hardware and Operating System.

Whilst retaining complete control over your platform would appear to be a good idea, especially when it comes to monopolising on sales, it has certainly hurt the popularity of the machine in the industry.With so many more companies supporting the PC it has certainly dominated sales over the past twenty years which has resulted in Apple Mac being regarded as very much a niche machine by many.

Fortunes may be about to change however; a partnership with Intel, a new Operating System on the horizon and compatibility with Windows means that many now consider Apple to be a viable option again.Join me again next week to hear my opinion on whether your next computer really should be a Mac…..



About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.