Love 'em or hate 'em, Apple computers have a lot going for them. We explain the differences between Apple and Windows PCs if you're thinking of swapping over
Apple’s recent successes have been hard to miss. From a company on the brink of bankruptcy a little over a decade ago, Apple has grown to become the most successful technology companies in the world. In fact, at the time of writing, Apple is the most valuable company in the world, full stop.
While a big part of this triumph can be attributed to newer product lines, such as the iPhone and iPad, Apple also makes the Mac – a range of desktop and laptop computers that has been around since before even Windows. In fact Mac computers have a near-30-year heritage, though they’ve been largely eclipsed by their younger siblings.
But like their smaller stablemates, Mac computers have plenty to recommend them. They’re easy to use and offer something genuinely different to Windows, with all the tools required to be productive and have a lot of fun. Their looks also exude Apple’s eye for good design.
In this article we’ll compare the different types of Mac and also explain what to look out for when buying one. We’ll also explain the implications for running a Mac alongside Windows, or even making the switch completely.
Mac vs PC
There are plenty of differences between PCs and Apple Mac computers but the operating system is the main one. Put simply, most commercial PCs rely on Microsoft Windows while Apple Macs run Mac OS – the latest version of which is called OS X.
Unlike Microsoft, Apple does not license Mac OS X for use on non-Apple computers. So if someone wants to use Mac OS X, they have to buy a Mac from Apple. If you want to use Windows, you can buy a computer from more or less anyone.
Clearly, buying a Mac means placing a lot of trust in Apple – so what can a Mac do that a PC can’t (or indeed, vice versa)?
In many respects the differences are only skin-deep. Windows and Mac OS might appear to have contrasting presentation styles but on closer inspection, the graphical effects and controls are similar: applications can be launched from a ‘docking’ bar at the bottom, appear in movable, resizable windows and multiple program windows can be open at any time.
Indeed, the likenesses have only increased over the years, with both Microsoft and Apple to some extent aping each other’s ideas – a point we’ll explore in more depth soon.
The hardware also has many similarities, internally at least. Up until 2006, Macs used so-called ‘PowerPC’ processors, which set them apart from PCs – most of which did (and still do) rely on Intel chips.
However, for a variety of financial and strategic reasons Apple switched to the use of Intel hardware. This made it easier for software companies to produce versions of their products for Mac OS, resulting in many more attractive releases – everything from office suites to games.
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