“Are you a Mac or PC?”. Why this age-old question is less relevant today.
Those old enough, will remember with fondness, and frustration, the “flame wars” taking place anywhere from IRC channels, to phpBB forum websites, where “noobs”, techies, and hackers from all walks of life, and computing platform, gathered in heated public discourse, and often resulting in chaotic mayhem, most often between two parties with fundamentally divergent opinions, with one recurrent theme hinging on two ever-duelling factions: the Mac user versus the PC user.
While today’s discussions may not be as passionate as what some of us remember from that bygone era somewhere in the mid-90s, when consumers were once known simply as “users”, the age-old question on the superiority of either the Mac or the PC, is still ensuing in one for or another, however is the question itself still relevant?
Is the Mac a PC?
While the definition of PC applies to any computer capable of supporting any number of Linux distributions, as well as Microsoft Windows, Linux-based systems have taken a different route to consumers, in the form of Linux-based environments, like Android and Chrome OS, with a simplified user experience and update process. With this in mind, most consumers tend to associate PCs to a Microsoft Windows-centric experience, which creates a Windows-specific filter when using the term PC, in this particular context.
With that said, the Mac has been consistently a Mac-based experience, through and through, even as the roots of Mac OS X sink deep into Linux BSD, with a polished POSIX-certified interface.
By this token, can we postulate that the Mac is a PC? While it does indeed fall within the technical definition of a PC, brand-wise, there are substantial differences between Macs and Windows PCs, mostly tied to the operating system’s own handling of hardware resources.
First of all, the Mac OS X, while it has no licensing restrictions, is very hard to install on non-Mac computers, though not impossible. On the other hand, installing Microsoft Windows 10 on a Mac, while not impossible, it does present some drawbacks, such as hardware incompatibility on a number of MacBooks, including broken Bluetooth support, and a blurry visual experience when using certain apps that can’t handle a Retina display.
What is the real difference between a Mac and a PC?
It’s fair to say that some hardware that is not designed and manufactured by Apple, will operate just fine on both PCs and Macs, given drivers support, including high-end nVidia GPUs, i-Series Intel processors and mainboards, and nearly all SSD and HDD storage drives. Aside from the labor and knowledge involved into a successful installation on Mac OS X on a desktop or laptop Windows PC, the performance and capabilities are highly subjective, due to the nature of most PCs, designed to work with a wider array of third party hardware than Macs.
With this in mind, the main difference between a Mac and a Windows PC is that Mac hardware and software is fine-tuned and tailored to the device where Mac OS X resides, to provide the best and most intuitive experience possible.
On the other hand, a PC offers versatility, and compatibility with a wider array of hardware, leaving it up to third party hardware manufacturers to provide the best drivers for optimal performance.
Surface Book: Where PC and Mac converge
With the Surface Book, Microsoft has built a laptop with hardware that Microsoft can easily support with its own drivers and dedicated Windows 10 OneCore support, designed to provide the best possible experience. This is a very similar approach as what Apple has done for decades. Of course, Windows 10 PCs do still come in all shapes and sizes, from different manufacturers worldwide.
Finally, are you a Mac or a PC, and does it matter?
The rate at which Mac users and PC users move across these respective platforms is higher these days, mostly due to the fact that the experience, from a consumer perspective, hinges on two primary factors: experience and features, the latter and former of which are definitely converging, when comparing devices like the Microsoft Surface Book with a MacBook, offering a beautiful polished exterior, a crisp, high resolution display, and powerful hardware for work or play.
On laptops, features like battery life, and performance are nearly equal, at least when it comes to Microsoft’s own devices, although third party manufacturers like Samsung, Asus and MSI, as giving Apple a run for its money.
Ultimately, the choice between a PC and a Mac, in this day and age, is highly subjective, depending on individual factors, as well as external variables, like workplace requirements.