(Windows) PC or (OS X) Mac - What's The Difference ?

What are the real differences between a Windows PC and an Apple Macintosh computer?


One of the most common questions I get, TheGeek gets (that she promptly hands off to me), and that I see posted here and on other internet sites is: What's the the real difference?  I also see that many people (dare I say 'most'), are confused about the differences between a Windows PC and an Apple computer - Many people are under the impression that an Apple computer is just another "brand", like Dell or HP, and don't fully understand the real and very significant differences between the two.  In this article I will try to outline some of the differences between a Windows PC and an Apple computer so that anyone unfamiliar with the two might better be able to make an informed choice about which type of computer best suits their needs.

WARNING:  The PC vs Mac debate has gone on since the dawn of personal computing and for many, it is like a religion.  And just as with many people that are passionate about the religion they were "brought up in" they often have strong feelings about the computer/operating system they use simply because they just "always used it" - without ever actually looking at "the other side" objectively and with an open mind.  I was guilty of this myself for many years, often saying things like "Apple computers are for people too stupid to use a REAL computer" (or worse).  Because this topic is so emotionally charged for some, often inciting responses more akin to a political debate or an argument over the pros and cons of abortion, I would like to keep all comments on this page limited to the facts.  Any emotional responses, biased fluff, or argumentative comments will be removed.  If you see any errors on this page, please post a correction and I will make the appropriate updates.

DISCLAIMER:  I am admittedly a recent Apple "switcher".  After using and touting Microsoft Windows for over 15 years (all the way back to Windows 2.0, even further back to MS-DOS 3.1 years before that) I finally came to the conclusion that for ME, an Apple computer was a better choice.  In this article I will try to describe some of the differences between the two systems without touting which is better and will try to keep my personal bias's to myself.


Hardware: Today (since 2006) there is virtually no difference in the "guts" of a Windows PC and an Apple PC.  They are both Intel-based chipsets and they both use 3rd-party components such as hard drives and video cards, often from the same manufacturers.  Because they are virtually the same, you can even run Microsoft Windows on an Apple computer, transforming the Apple into a "Windows PC".  Historically however, Apple computers were built around a less powerful Motorola CPU, and had a completely different architecture.  Both suffer from roughly the same hardware failure rate.


PC's have an open architecture - meaning that anyone (any company) can design, build, market and sell them.  This is what has led to the explosion in personal computer use in the last 15 years and is also why you can choose from literally thousands of prehiprials and parts for a PC.  This wide range of hardware is also often the cause of Microsoft Window's infamous instability:  Because any company can build a piece of hardware, and create the drivers for it (drivers are the software that is necessary for the computer to know how to 'talk' to the hardware) without any standardized or enforced testing, there are often incompatibility issues or 'bugs' that can cause a Windows PC to crash or present the user with the infamous "Blue Screen of Death".

Apple computers are manufactured only by Apple, and even though the parts they use are standard, they go through rigorous design and testing to ensure that every part is compatible and works together as a whole.  The result of this is less choice in components and prehiprials, but much greater system stability.  Because all of Apple's computers are designed and built by the same team in Cupertino California, they all have the "Apple look".


Windows DesktopOS X

Operating System:  The operating system (OS) is where the main, and biggest difference lies between Apple and Windows PC's - it is the operating system that determines how the computer operates, what you see on the screen, and how you interact with it.  There are many operating systems in the computer world, many of which you have probably heard of like UNIX and Linux, others which you probably haven't heard of like inTIME or iRMX, and of course the one that most people are familiar with, Windows.

Windows PC's: Windows computers run on, well, "Windows".  Windows (Windows 95, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server, Windows CE, etc) is built/written by Microsoft and is installed on more devices in the world than any other operating system - by far.  Windows is so popular that when most (non-computer experts) think of a computer, "Windows" is what comes to mind. 

Windows Pros: Extreme backward compatibility - pop in a floppy disk with a MS-DOS program from 1987 and it will probably work.  Extensive catalog of available software & hardware - choose from millions of "Windows compatible" programs and hardware "built for Windows".  Familiarity - You probably use a Windows computer already, and probably can find your way around.

Windows Cons: Extreme backward compatibility - also means that many security design flaws remain.  Extensive list of hardware "built for Windows" - Microsoft has no way to test or ensure that all hardware combos work together - one poorly written hardware driver or poorly designed piece of hardware can make the entire system unstable.  Security and Design - historically Windows has been "unsecure" - making it very easy for hackers to compromise Windows PC's or to create viruses.  Windows vista has made great improvements in security, but without add-on software like antivirus and antispyware, it is far from secure.  Currently there are millions of viruses and just as many "spyware" programs that infect millions of PC's worldwide.  Without the use of antivirus and antispyware software, the average PC used by the average (non-expert) PC user is virtually guaranteed to become infected. Ease of use - for most novice users, installing new hardware or software can be a harrowing experience often leading to frustration. 

 Apple computers: Apple computers use the "OS X" (some say it's pronounced "Ohh ess ex", others say "Ohh ess ten") operating system.  OS X is a derivative of UNIX, and is therefore, at it's core, very secure.  Although OS X has "windows" that you can move around on the screen, it is not "Microsoft Windows".  If you have ever looked at or used a (newer) Apple computer you would quickly see that the "look and feel" is very different.

OS X Pros: Stability - OS X, combined with the tightly controlled hardware is very stable.  Although no operating system or computer is crash-proof, most OS X computers rarely crash or "freeze", if ever.  Security - because OS X is built on a derivative of Unix (which has been around for many years) it is very secure.  As of this writing, there are ZERO "in the wild" viruses or spyware programs that can infect a Macintosh computer - this makes the use of Antivirus or antiSpyware software 100% un-necessary.  Ease of use - Simple functions such as installing or uninstalling software generally takes one or two clicks or "drags".  Apple invented the term "plug and play" and "it just works" years ago, and they are both true today.

OS X Cons: Very little backward compatibility - Apple has chosen to forgo backward compatibility in favor of security and stability.  If you had software for your OS 9 operating system and upgrade to OS X, you would have to purchase all-new programs.   Smaller catalog of software and hardware - there are less software programs and choices of hardware for Apple computers.


One other big difference between Windows PC's and Apple PC's is that most PC' manufacturers "sell out" and include dozens of pre-installed "junk" or "trial" versions of software which are really nothing more than advertisements designed to get you to purchase more software.  Apple computers have none of this.  All Apple computers come pre-installed with iLife, which Apple feels will let most users do everything they need: Internet Browsing, Photo Editing and storage, Video Editing, DVD/Movie making and music creation/editing - no 'trials' or "junkware".



  • Windows can't do graphics/Apple's are better for "Graphics Artists":  This was true many years ago but today the truth is that Microsoft Windows can "do graphics" just as good as any Apple computer.
  • Windows slows down the more you use it:  For most users, this is true; Windows still uses "the registry"; which over time can become bloated or corrupt, and over time can cause performance issues.  Many users also become infected with spyware which also slows down their computer.  Apple computers do not suffer from either of these issues.
  • Apple computers are too expensive: The Apple Mac Mini has a base price of $599.  When comparing an Apple computer, feature by feature to a name-brand PC such as Dell, the prices are comparable.  However, the least expensive computer you can find would be a Windows PC.
  • There is no software for a Mac:  When searching for software to fulfill a particular need (checkbook for example), you may have 500 to choose from for Windows, and only 50 to choose from for Macintosh, but there is equivalent software available on the Mac for virtually every need.
  • There are no games for Apple:  There are games available for Apple computers, but there are far more available for Microsoft Windows.


What type of user would benefit from a Windows PC:  Users that have used Microsoft Windows and are already familiar with it, "power users", and hard-core gamers would probably benefit more by using a Windows PC

What type of user would benefit from an Apple computer: "new", or novice computer users, users that only want to do simple internet browsing, photo editing, and email, that have never used Windows would probably benefit more by using an Apple.  Many "switchers" choose to stop using Windows and begin using an Apple because they have grown tired of the security/virus issues that plague Windows (this was me).

What computer should YOU use?  What kind of computer is right for you is a personal choice - but in order to make an informed decision you must weigh the facts and issues of both choices.  I hope that by reading this article you now have more information to actually compare the choices and make a more informed, less emotional decision.


COMMENTS: Please post any corrections or questions - all other comments will be removed




"sometimes".. "sometimes not"...
Right out of the box, Windows is just as stable as OS X (Apple/Mac) .. The problem is that Windows PC's often become infected with spyware & viruses that can make the system unstable (and crash).. OS X (Apples) are not prone to these Windows viruses or spyware, and therefore, in general, for most average users, tends to be more stable (crash less).

A Windows system owned by a person that knows how to keep it 'clean' and take the steps to protect it, would be just as stable as a Apple Mac (OS X).

So there's all kinds of blocked shared sites on my phone and apps installed already that i didn't install and won't let me open there's also a secret box note i want to know if someone's been in my phone from a 3rd party after some 10 day resource shaking my head this is what i found can u help please... How can i pay my attachments that i screen shoted its basically a belkin account i found after i was connected to a wifi server when i turned off by data and i tried to email the company but it has a format i can't read but says blocked by an hd voice google member which it shows the id and its all linked to my significant others email which is also blocking me from texting or calling the only friend they have that i know who knows computers good... There was also a search to s7addlist where it talked about managing domains with buying and bidding and also says some content was moved to the new Google play store which i can't access but there also a msn email account and yahoo that i can't access either.. Can i call or take my phone somewhere to see?? Thank u for your help

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