Mac vs PC: Which should I buy?

Which is better – Macs or PCs? Computer Weekly content editor Faisal Alani gives his opinion on their respective advantages and disadvantages

Recently, Computer Weekly content editor Faisal Alani was interviewed about the desirability of Macs versus PCs and which would make a better choice. Here is the interview in full.

Is it possible to summarise the main differences between Macs and PCs, the key features that set them apart?

The best way to describe the difference between a Mac and a PC is that they are two different ways of thinking. In most cases, you can come to the same result using either, but they will go about it in a different manner. For example, when using Windows on a PC, to close the program, a user simply clicks the red X at the corner of the program window.

However, for Macs, this is not the case. When the red X on a Mac program box is clicked, that window closes but the program does not. It is still open and running, even though there are no documents or windows open. To close a program completely, a user must click on the program name on the top status window (it must be active to do this) and then click on Quit.

Another way to close a program, which is usually faster, is to use the shortcut Apple + Q. The Quit command closes all multiple windows that may be open under the program.

This is all down to the fact that Macs run on the Mac OS X operating system and PCs run on Windows. It’s down to the individual as to which is easier to use. You can run Mac OS X on a PC but not vice-versa, although OS X on a PC wouldn’t work as well as on a Mac.

There are also differences in hardware in that Macs are only built by Apple, whereas PCs are built by a number of companies. This reflects in the price, in that Macs are generally more expensive, and the quality of Macs is considered more stable and stylish.

Most creatives, designers, musicians and others seem to use a Mac. Why would you say that is?

Macs appear to be cooler/trendier but they are also a better fit for designers. Apple has carved out a reputation for being the “alternative” choice for those that see themselves as an individual, which is what art is all about.

But it’s not just about image. Macs tend to be the best platform for design and creativity due to the strength of the applications available for them and the fact that Macs are generally high-quality computers.

This and the image of using a Mac make up the perfect team for those that see themselves outside the corporate culture.

Would you agree that, for those in the creative industries, a Mac is a better fit as a laptop, or are there PCs that can do just as good a job, for less?

There are PCs that can do just as good a job, especially as you can build a PC. The only problem is that Macs have applications that run only on Macs. Many would argue that that is not the case, but these applications are built specifically for Macs and so the PC version is usually an after-thought, although this is starting to change.

I can’t speak for every industry but for publishing, it would be very difficult for us to just use PCs.

Why do you think Macs, just as with the iPhone and other Apple products, receive so much coverage when they still have a relatively small market share, compared to PCs?

It’s just very good marketing. Apple understands how to manipulate the market and how to instigate a media frenzy.

The build-up to a product launch is something Apple has mastered, just by being very secretive about its ideas and what it is creating. This is also helped by the fact that Apple is genuinely very creative, often releasing something fresh and new.

Once the product is launched, Apple uses a very subtle yet strong approach. Its advertising is always understated and the company relies on enthusiasts to promote its products by word of mouth.

It’s this passion and eagerness that pushes the media to provide so much coverage.

To what extent do you think that the discussion about Mac vs PC is not so much a case of which is better, but rather about your needs as a user and what you primarily need a laptop for?

Whenever anyone asks me for advice as to which PC or Mac they should buy, I always ask: “What do you need it for?”

The reason is that unless you’re editing video, graphic design, and so on, then you probably don’t need to spend that amount of money on a Mac.

Most people just want to browse the web, check their emails and use a word processor, which doesn’t need a high-powered machine. This is the reason for the rise of the netbook – they’re cheap and do all basic functions without too much hassle.

The needs of the user are paramount, but people like the idea of saying they use a Mac and the image that goes with it, even though in most cases they’re not using it to its full capabilities.

Apple has a very strong brand identity. How much of the appeal of Macs do you think has to do with marketing and with its desirability as a brand, a status symbol?

It has everything to do with marketing and branding, but also the fact that its products are great.

Apple is very clever and deserves a lot of credit for resurrecting a company that was struggling in the mid-1990s.

There’s no question that having a Mac, iPhone or iPad has a stigma attached to it, but that shouldn’t take anything away from the fact that these are fantastic products. If they weren’t so good, then all the marketing in the world wouldn’t help.

People buy into the marketing but they then add to it by evangelising the products. When someone has a Mac, they generally tell people about it and promote it either by word of mouth or by writing about it (blogs, Twitter, Facebook).

This wouldn’t work if the products weren’t so good and easy to use.

Although there are also high-end PCs, Macs are generally far more expensive than a PC. Do you think the higher price is justified?

The price point isn’t justified in relation to a similar-specification PC, but Apple sells the products at a premium, making them more desirable.

If Ferraris were cheap, that would ruin their desirability.

It says a lot about you if you spend money at the higher end, and if you save up for something, you tend to feel more of a sense of achievement when purchasing it. In a strange way, it’s a win-win situation.

A Mac is considered to be the trendier and cooler laptop option. How important do you think style and design are to its popularity?

It’s part of the package. Apple products are seen to be premium products and the style and design is part of that image.

The functionality is great but, as I said before, Apple relies on people to promote the product. The fact that these products look great makes people want to show them off.

In technology, you rarely find a product that does well on looks alone, but when you marry style with functionality, then it’s a winning formula.

Dell has tried a similar tactic with its latest line of laptops coming in an array of colours and even going as far as getting designers and artists to contribute.

Apple has always understood the need to sell good-looking technology, dating back to the original iMac.

The fact is that if you want people to pay more money, then it needs to look good, perform and, in Apple’s case, enhance your status.

Is it possible to say if a Mac or PC is more secure and, if so, why that is?

A Mac is definitely more secure due to the fact that there are few viruses that can infect Macs. PCs need virus protection and sometimes that’s not enough.

Malware exists on Macs, but it’s very rare in comparison to PCs.

What do you personally use, PC or Mac, and why?

Personally, at home I use a PC but at work I have to use both. For my personal life, a PC is more than enough, but at work we manage the website mainly using PCs and put the print magazine together using Macs, due to the graphic and design applications available. I’m comfortable on both platforms, but tend to find a PC easier to use.

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There are not enough characters in the alphabet - any alphabet - to answer this question. In fact, it's not a question that should have been posed the way it was. To fully examine what platform and related device is a better choice, we need to know what options are available, what existing infrastructure is and how adamantly people adhere to the type of computer versus something else - how important getting the work done is. If it's really a matter of productivity...and it should be...then platform, type of computer and so much else is extraneous. I love my Apple devices. They work for what I do. But if they didn't work, I would find something that did. It's that simple. Faisal went about this question in a backward manner. He should have asked what device would be the best choice to get the work done.
There was a time when Macs and PCs were very different, but they’re now basically the same. Open a MacBook up and you’ll find the same hardware you’d find in a PC Ultrabook.

The time for dividing computers into “PCs” and “Macs” is over. With more and more people are using mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, Mac OS X is just another PC operating system alongside Windows and Linux.
... I am astonished that this "Q&A" Would say that macs have better security... both computers can get viruses, it is the fact that most people do not know that system preferences is on the computer, and apple disables all third party downloads from the start. a mac is just a pc with different software the hardware is the same. Thus it is the user that gets the virus on it, mac users tend not to want to mess with preferences.
explain windows 10.
Nothing else is more unsecure. won't stop me from using it though!
I think that Windows PC were so much more mainstream. That is why their security was exploited more. You had a much larger target. The second part there was much more software available for the Windows OS. Lastly the Mac systems tended to be more costly. Those differences have faded over the years and are harder to distinguish. I still tend to see many more corporate environments using the Windows platform.
After reading this very false notion, I stopped reading: You can run Mac OS X on a PC but not vice-versa although OS X on a PC wouldn’t work as well as on a Mac.

OF COURS you can run Windows on a Mac!!!!
Also, with some work you can get macOS to run on a PC...with great results.

Maybe this guy is confused.
yup. I run windows 10 on my 2008 MacBook pro with parallels. run s like a dream. (something I cant say for my 2009 PC. won't even work properly at all.)
If you're a casual computer user (emails, bills, word, shopping, powerpoint, etc) cheap macbooks are your best bet in my opinion. For years I swore by Dell laptops only because "Macs are too expensive". After listening to my Apple-cheerleader-friends, I took a chance on a Macbook back in 2008 and never looked back. Just recently had to replace it (battery failed and was too expensive to replace, wasn't worth it in a 9 year old machine. Below are reasons: -Never had to reformat the Mac once in 9 years. Ran like a new machine to its very last day (just slow on startup). Every PC I had: I had to reformat at least twice because they slowed to a hault and were nearly unusable. -Security is built-in. No more buying a security update anually. -New OS is a free simple update. On a PC, if I wanted to go to Windows XP or 7, had to uninstall manually and buy new OS. -Never had quirky freezes, bugs, software that wouldn't work. -External devices recognized and compatible immediately. On my PCs I would always go through a lengthy installation process. With the macbook, I plugged a rickety old HP printer in and in 30 seconds, an icon appeared in my dock which was a picture of the exact printer with model # and a message pop up that said "found HP printer, ready to print". Bottom line, you will pay more for an Apple product, but you get what you pay for: a low-maintenance very reliable machine.
Yes, my friend!
In 2012 I purchased a Macbook Pro (a 2011 product).
At the beginning of 2015 my problems began. First I changed the keyboard, thinking a small water spill might have caused damage to the keyboard. It turned out the keyboard needed cleaning but was otherwise not damaged. The price for cleaning was slightly higher than a new keyboard, so I opted for a new keyboard (and asked for the old one back, but it would have cost too much why I left it. A couple of months later, I brought the computer back to the auctorized MAC dealer. I had problems with the image and I could not see films. The motherboard was exchanged based on Apple's prolonged warranty.  That solved some of the problems (the video) but problems continued occasionally with the screen. I took the computer back again. This time the hard disk was exchanged. As with the motherboard, this was decided when I left the computer in the store, and described the problems I was having. Problems presisted and I again brought the computer in. This time they kept the computer. When they did not call me back as they said, I went to the store and asked them to give me my computer. They asked if I was not interested in selling the computer, and told me they did not know what the problem was. I then took the computer to the Apple Store in Täby. They kept the computer, found that the hard disk was again broken and one RAM was lose. They charged me nothing, and wrote a note to the auctorized Mac service provider that my hard disk should be exchanged for free. I went straight to the service provider where they now echanged the hard disk while I was waiting. Problems persisted but it worked for almost a year  before problems deteriorated, and  I took it to another auctorized service computer. They kept the computer then told me the hard disk was broken and needed to be changed. The two RAMs were also broken and need to be exchanged. This was in last November. I let them do it. Problems persisted, but and an Apple person tried to help me online (wanting to rule out a software problem I presume). It took time, and finally a  couple of weeks ago, I took the computer back to the second auctorized apple service provider. They kept the computer, called me back and told me that my 1,3 year old motherboard was kaputt! I don't dare to pay for a new motherboard only to have problems continuing. It has been expensive and has taken me a lot of time. As per my Apple online contact, the parts are not under warranty as long as they have survived 3 months. Also, he said the parts were independent from each other. They were individually "bad" and a fault in one had nothing to do with the fault in another one. I am of course wondering if this really is normal? Also, I have an ipad, and when I am now considering buying a new computer, I wonder if I should revert back to a PC or stick with Mac because of my Ipad? I have had no problems with viruses with the Mac unlike with my previous PCs.  I treat my computers normally as a freelance translator, took my first computer programming course in 1984 and my first computer was a Mac SE. This is just to tell you that I don't sling my computer across my shoulder or otherwise treat it badly. Any advice is greatfully recieved. 
why didnt you take your mac to apple? Why didnt you buy it from apple? its the dodgy dealer's fault!
its everyday bro!
Money never lies. Look at how much better Apple is doing than Microsoft. Boom!
And look at how much better Google is doing than Apple. Are you now going to rush out and get a Google phone and a Chromebook?

Or was this just convienent at the time of the post?
Bottom line, you will pay more for an Apple product, but you get what you pay for: a low-maintenance very reliable machine.
You'll get a product that says Apple. Low-maintenance? It's no maintenance, because you can't really maintain them. If something breaks prepare to travel to the apple store.

You can spend less on a PC and have it last just as long. You just have to have some knowledge about PC hardware. Apple fanchildren always come across as the kind of people who own a car but can't change the oil or a tire. They quote things like "it just works". So, if your knowledge of computers is at a zero, an Apple is probably your best choice. But if you're looking to individualize and "be unique" the PC offers way more. Incredible that everyone thinks the Mac is the edgy and unique device...but it looks exactly like all the other Macs (except for maybe a color variance...oh my!).
PC is better, you fools!
1. Are there mouse keys on a mac?
2.The mac scrolling is so counter-intuitive
3. Mac are actually more prone to viruses because anti-virus software like Norton have less power
4. Don't get me started on how stupid DMG files are. Why make you think there is a flash drive in your computer when there isn't
5. Why the heck is there no right click button on the mac mice? You have to hit the control button on the keyboard which means you need to have hands on both the keyboard and the mouse
6. on the mac laptops why is there no forward delete button
There are so many mistakes in this article that I'm to lazy to enumarate. Short story: get a high end PC. Macs are a pain in the butt (try to upgrade its hard drive for example) and the worst buy I ever did. You can do everything on PC if you get a good one.
Mac is the BEST period.
they buy mac to feed their pride, 
It's the Mac OS and the integration with well built hardware that makes Mac computers different.  Unix Style Terminal.  Cloning is easy for a complete backup.  Files and apps are isolated., no fancy dll's and registry. Mac has the best trackpad.  Retina screens are sharp and smooth on the eyes. Unlocks screen with my watch. Have usable applications out of the box. It's a little more secure and Apple is very fast to release an update if security flaws are found. Will you use a Windows without anti-virus? There you go.

I similarly priced windows PC is more often than not equally as good. I bought a mac in 2012 going by the trend of my department only to realise that it was so prone to incompatibility issues with every hardware my old PC used to work so easily with. Most of the cool stuff is nothing i would have ever needed. The intel chipset sold by apple at the time for their current generation mac was 2 generations older than what was being offered by leading PC manufacturers. And the real pain was that several softwares i had been using costed more than tens of thousands of dollar to buy legally and mac unlike windows never had a free illegal cracked version. It simply didnt work for me, the matt all aluminium body never gave me enough justification because iam not a coder, and i sometimes enjoy some good gaming time and also make good use of pen support. Photo editing is much better in my dell precision 5530 even more so than in the Macbook 16 i tried lately. You simply do not compare a 500 USD PC with a 3000 USD MAC. with some common sense you always would make the most out of your computers. 
PS: The MAC interface was so much more fancy, and i fell for the aesthetics and the screen and track-pad experience that was actually a trap. Had i been up to something else than what I do currently (medical research) I would have been happy with a mac and probably would be dumb enough to invest in an iPad just for the touch and pen support experience, like some of my lab-mates.
I have a late 2011 Macbook Pro with a 2.5 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, and a 1 TB Mac HD solid state drive.  It originally came with 8 GB of RAM and a regular hard drive, but I upgraded along the way.  I have hesitated buying a new computer because I cannot find any that have the configuration I have without spending a lot extra (I am surprised that computers do not automatically come with more than this because mine is old).  The very first program I needed to install would only work on Windows.  So I installed Parallels and Windows 7 on it.  I have Microsoft Office for Mac on the Mac side and Microsoft Office for Windows on the Windows side.  I do a lot with Excel and found it works better on the Windows side (mainly because of all the name changes on the Mac side).  I now have to buy another computer because my Mac has a panic screen issue, which I found was a recall issue for Apple for my model year (the recall has now expired and their "fix" was only temporary).  For compatibility, and ease of use, I am leaning towards a PC, although the Apple was much better at browsing than PCs I've used (my old ones, my work ones, etc.).  If you compare things equally, they are about the same price, but PCs have more compatibility and are easier to upgrade.  I would appreciate any suggestions.