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Apple Mac OS X El Capitan VS Microsoft Windows 10: what will consumers run in 2016?

According to what we have seen at Apple’s WWDC event, whether consumers go for a Mac or a PC, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the market has shifted from sheer brand presence, to features, and when it comes to both Windows 10 and El Capitan, it’s all about features.

When looking at how far hardware manufacturers have gone to create devices with more battery power and performance, users seem increasingly disinterested in pitches regarding the stability of an operating system versus another, and more interested in what it can do for them, during the lifetime of their devices.

Apple Mac OS X El Capitan versus Microsoft Windows 10

While Windows 10’s release date has been already set, at least for its desktop iteration, for July 29th, El Capitan’s release date is still tentative for sometimes this Fall. By the same token, it’s very possible that the release of El Capitan could at the very least fall close to Windows 10’s. One of the reasons could be the coming release of Microsoft Surface Pro 4, which is expected to challenge Apple’s own devices on multiple fronts.

The new tablet PC will be powered by a Broadwell M processor, just like the 12 inch MacBook, and will feature a 2K display capable of 2160 x 1440 pixels resolution in its 14 inch version. Apple’s own retina display on the 12 inch MacBook, features a resolution of 2304×1440, which is only slightly wider than the Surface Pro 4. Microsoft is also expect to go large on memory options, allowing as far as 16GB of RAM, and 500GB of storage, out of the box.

Based on this information alone, we can expect Microsoft’s coming products to be a lot more competitive, but what will users go for when it comes to user experience?

Price range

Mac OS X El Capitan, much like all the latest iterations of Apple’s flagship OS, will be free of charge. While Windows 10 will come with a base price of $119, that fee will most likely waived for many users who already own store-bought devices running OEM versions of Windows 7 and 8.1, with a very easy upgrade process.

Compatible hardware

Both OS X El Capitan and Windows 10 will be capable of running on numerous existing systems. While OS X will run on most Mac devices as early as the 2007 iMac, Windows 10 will most likely have somehow a “home advantage”, as the number of existing PCs, worldwide, running Windows 7 or Windows 8 which will be able to upgrade for free, along with the staggering number of systems still running Windows XP, of which a large number will likely be able to run Windows 10, is likely to dwarf the number of systems that will upgrade to El Capitan, whether those systems will be free upgrades or new Windows 10 licenses.

The latter is also one more reason for Apple to further its focus on compatibility, as Microsoft gains marketshare with an operating system that is already changing the mindset of many users who switched to the Mac because of Windows 8.

The ability of Windows 10 to run on smartphones and small tablets is also a point in Microsoft’s favor, especially as mobile hardware keeps improving constantly, both in terms of processing power and performance.

Compatible software

According to statistic reports up to December 2014, Windows-based operating systems, including Windows XP,7, 8 and 8.1, make up for 90% of running systems worldwide, while Mac OS X represents 7.21%. By this token, developers are traditionally more inclined in developing applications for Windows than for other operating systems, including Mac OS X, however, it’s unlikely that any major software application that is written for Windows, won’t be ported to Mac OS X as well.

Another aspect of software compatibility is how mobile trends are influencing our desktop experience, with the introduction of app stores. Each OS manufacturer, from Apple to Microsoft, to Google, among the most popular ones, provide their own stores. When installing an app, users can quickly decide whether to keep the application, or erase it from their systems in a way that is much simpler compared to generic software applications.

In this case, the “home advantage” goes to Apple, both on OS X and iOS, but this might change in the future, as the Windows Store gains popularity.


Microsoft Windows 10 offers a security layer that is considerably stronger than any other previous version of Windows, both when surfing the web, and when installing native applications. On the web front, Microsoft Edge features several improvements in the way it handles protocols and data, as well as the fact that extensions and plugin support won’t be part of the new browser.

In Apple’s court, Mac OS X El Capitan’s Unix core makes OS X virtually unbeatable when it comes to security out of the box. Also, most malware is traditionally designed to attack Windows-based systems, and the remaining share of malicious software designed to attack Mac devices is mostly comprised of sophisticated hacks that must be tailored to specific systems and conditions, making it a lot harder for hackers to take over a Mac, versus a Windows PC.

Virtual assistant

It’s official: virtual assistants are no longer restricted to mobile devices. With Microsoft Cortana being integral part of Windows 10, and with its own custom keyboard button on the way, Microsoft is decidedly taking the lead in enabling voice commands on Windows PCs.

While Microsoft is investing a lot more into Cortana, than Apple is doing with Siri, Apple doesn’t seem to be overly worried, as Siri is still the most widely used virtual assistant in mobile, second only to Google’s own built in voice search.

Of course the tables might turn in 2016, as users weigh in on the improvements of Windows 10 in respect to their previous Windows-based OS. Desktop users habits might change as well, introducing a new dimension to user experience where consumers could find themselves increasingly comfortable using voice commands on their laptops, and tablet PCs.


Windows-based systems have always had the upper hand when it comes to catering to gamers. This advantage becomes obvious when considering that with the Xbox platform, Microsoft has created a culture within its ecosystem, for gamers, no matter what platform they are playing on. With Windows 10, the Xbox app allows players across all devices, from smartphones to full-size custom gaming rigs, to play simultaneously, using their Microsoft account, and even pause the game they are playing, and resume it on a different mobile device or PC.

There is no comparable environment available natively to Mac users, and because a Microsoft account is necessary to be part of the experience, Microsoft does retain dominance on gaming.

Final thoughts

It’s hard to determine what users will run in 2016, unless we look at sales trends in hardware this year, as soon as both operating systems are available. Both OSs have their merits, and both of them are in a state of constant, and very rapid evolution, following trends that are very much mobile-based.

Considering the existing market share in terms of PC dominance, one would think the advantage goes to Windows, however the statistic shared earlier does not take into account unlicensed copies of Windows which may not be eligible for a free upgrade, as well as many other users who may elect to continue to run Windows 7 on their systems, at least into the next year. Also, another factor that plays in favor of OS X El Capitan, is the fact that many Windows PCs older than 4 years are likely to suffer from hardware failures, and the cost of replacing failing hardware could be unwarranted in many cases. This could play in two ways: with either a surge in sales of laptops and PCs, or in a boost in the sales of MacBooks and other Mac products, depending on the perceived value of upgrading to a Windows 10 PC versus trying a Mac, for the sake of trying something completely different.

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