Recently when I recommended what computer to buy I didn’t even mention Apple products like the iMac, MacBook or MacBook Air. I still whole-heartedly recommend the purchase of a Microsoft Windows-based PC – here’s why.
The main reason is the purchase price. Apple computers generally cost at least 1.5 times more than the equivalent Windows PC. For example compare desktop machines – the iMac that starts at $1200 with an all-in-one Windows desktop that costs $800 - and the Windows machine has a bigger screen, more RAM, and a bigger hard drive. With laptops a MacBook with a 13.3 inch screen will run around $1200, while a Windows laptop with a 17.3″ screen costs $700 and again has more RAM, a bigger hard drive and a better graphics card. The MacBook Air is a different beast since it has a special Solid State Drive (SSD) that has no moving parts, instead of a regular spinning hard drive. It is the SSD that is also used in tablets to get that “instant on” effect, and allow them to be so slim. It is only recently that Windows PC equivalents called “Ultrabooks” were released, but the price difference is still there – $1300 for a MacBook Air with 128 GB SDD versus $900 for an Ultrabook equivalent with a 330 GB SSD.
Apple computers also have higher ongoing costs because software is not backwards compatible. This means that if you upgrade the operating system (Macs run Mac OS) then you will also have to pay for upgrades to all the software you run on the computer. With the Windows operating system and new versions allow you to continue running the existing versions of software you’ve purchased. Now, some might argue that this is limited to third party software packages because when you pay for a Mac OS upgrade you also get upgrades to the Apple software that comes standard with a Mac . At any rate, the cost is more.
In the past, some have said that the Mac computer offers a premium user experience – a better design interface and more stable product. You can expect to turn on a Mac and it will “just work”. With Windows this wasn’t the case – for example Windows Vista had all kinds of interface changes and problems that made it a brute. But in my opinion this is truly in the past – with the release of the Windows 7 operating system I believe that Microsoft has “caught up” with Apple.
So if you have the cash go ahead and buy a Mac, but I think you’d be better off with your money in your pocket and a Windows PC instead. The future also looks great for Microsoft – rumours are that the release of Windows 8 with touchscreen capabilities on Ultrabooks will mean a slim, instant-on, touchscreen computer that can be both a laptop and tablet. Of course Apple may come out with something that combines the best of the iPad and MacBook Air too.