Blurring the lines between Windows 10 PCs and Apple Macs
Let’s face it, “Mac VS PC” (or vice versa), was one of the greatest marketing stunts of all times, yet it always left consumers wondering about the real difference between a Mac and a PC. Is it the hardware specs? Perhaps it’s the operating system, or the range of apps and software available. Maybe it’s about looks, or legacy. Some users go for a Mac because that’s what they know best, and PC users are not so different.
The truth is that most consumers on the market for a new MacBook or a Windows 10 laptop PC, aren’t tech savvy at all, and while some will rely on the expertise of sales persons, consumer reviews online, or the occasional tech savvy friend or family member, most will rely on very few simple indicators of what they feel is the best device for their needs, which is a thought process that often leads to that “buyer’s remorse” stage we all hate to go through.
Fortunately, thanks to a staggering improvement in entry-level hardware specs, the lines between Mac and PC are getting blurry. On both sides, consumers can finally enjoy sharp, beautiful HD quality display resolution, and in the case of Apple iMac and MacBook products, last year’s complete Retina displays upgrade couldn’t have come at a better time.
PC users may not have the same premium quality brought by Retina displays, but the gap is narrowing with the systematic increase in HD resolution to 4K and higher in both laptops and desktops, not to mention the availability of touchscreen options in both regular Windows 10 laptops and hybrid tablets.
When it comes to design, the premium paid by Mac users is well justified by the amount of care for details that goes into every Mac product, such as the use of magnets to make it easier to lift the display of a MacBook, or how the LEDs pulsate, rather than flicker, and how desktop Macs like the iMac, the Mac Mini and Mac Pro are designed to fit on a surface, with minimal footprint, without sacrificing specs.
While PCs may not feature the same consistent look and feel, compared to Macs, and may be sometimes more spartan in terms of design and desktop footprint, they make up for it in specs and expansion options, keeping a steady pace with Apple’s own offerings.
Is it really Mac versus PC, or Windows 10 versus Mac OS X?
Even when it comes to processing speed and memory options, both Apple Macs and Windows PCs seem to race head to head, especially as chip manufacturers struggle to push Moore’s law, and transistors near their miniaturization limits at atomic levels to a point where some speculate reaching frequency speeds any higher will be a technical impossibility, at which point, it will inevitably come down to user experience, and that is where each operating system plays an important role.
User experience is the keyword here, and it’s plain to see how Microsoft and Apple are showing a renowned focus on the way users interact with what they see on their displays.
Similar strokes for different folks
Since the introduction of Windows 10, users have started to notice a certain convergence of features between Mac OS X El Capitan and Windows 10. This is not exactly surprising if we look at the history of both companies, and their own iterations and takes on the Start menu/Apple menu, or the desktop icons, and context menus.
These are all universally accepted elements of any operating system, and the lack of these elements would be aggravating, simply because those concepts are the foundation of a great user experience, and have been proven as the most effective way to get around an operating system’s graphical desktop, even for those users who have never used a computer before.
20 years later, Apple and Microsoft are once again borrowing from each other’s inspiration, with features like Windows Snap, virtual desktops management, and possibly even Siri integration within Mac OS X, as users weigh in on their experience with Cortana.
Force Touch and gesture control are becoming very much part of the daily routine of both PC and Mac users, and these too are features that are bringing the two platforms to converge.
The one different stroke
The one difference that manages to create a division between Apple and Microsoft, is each respective way of handling mobile computing.
Apple’s duality, with Mac OS X and iOS, helps creating a separation between mobile devices and desktop products, where the latter and former won’t cannibalize each other. This is especially important, as Apple creates such a diverse array of products, and this trend is what allowed for a refresh of the iPod Touch, as well as the creation of products as unique as the 15 inch MacBook Retina.
Microsoft’s approach is more dynamic, as the Redmond tech giant manufactures only two devices that are truly relevant to consumers: the the Surface tablet and Windows Mobile devices.
Granted that Windows Mobile has yet to retain a sizable chunk of the smartphone market, the fact that Windows 10 runs on both products, creates the ideal entry point for consumers to find out how cohesive the experience is from mobile to desktop, especially when considering the concept of universal apps. With that said, while Microsoft is most definitely a software-first company, the company is clearly considering building upon its line of Surface tablets, and there are many indications that Windows 10 smartphones will not go away anytime soon.
This is very good news for consumers, as the options are finally narrowing to what most non-tech savvy consumers understand and want: a smooth user experience, and clearly defined, intuitive features that allow them to be just as productive whether it’s a desktop environment like a Surface tablet or a MacBook, a mobile platform like an iPhone or an iPad, a home theater system, or the tiny display on a wearable device like the Apple Watch or Microsoft Band.