Why I always choose Windows...
Being the Microsoft Tribe forum, I'm certain that there's more than just a handful of comparisons between Windows and Apple. However, with Windows 8 out in distribution and a new wave of hardware available for consumers, I was faced with the task of upgrading my previous outfit, and had the chance to revisit this debate--"Mac vs. PC."
Let's take a look at the hardware selection. All of Apple's MBP's look alike--in fact, to the layman, they are nearly indistinguishable except for their size. I would assume that someone more familiar with their products might say "that's the point." However, I've always been a fan of diversity, even if I prefer a more consolidated and simple design, myself.
Apple's product do seem to have a shine. It's not hard to see why people often describe them as being the "Mercedes-Benz" of computing. However, unlike Mercedes-Benz, which offers a variety of cars for different purposes (the S-class, SLR, CLS, CL, E, C, etc.), Apple only offers one design. True, the aluminum uni-body and glossy screen look good. But so does an exceptionally crafted black pen. How well the ethos of design (and limited design, I should add) translates into function is another story.
I understand that there are individuals who purchase their computers as they would a handbag or fashion accessory--more for the statement rather than the usage. However, Gucci and LV bags/items are of superior quality (at least that's what we're told justifies their prices) compared to their cheaper, mass-produced, brethren.
(Again, I feel that this analogy doesn't hold well simply because even Gucci and LV handbags come in a clear variety of forms)...
Regarding PC design, for the past decade, OEM's, besides Lenovo (Thinkpad) and Sony, have really produced garbage for design--focusing, instead, upon the internals and cheaper price points. This makes the technology more accessible, but it's experience vastly weaker. Where Apple hinders itself from a considerable lack of diversity, Windows OEM's cut themselves with a severe under-appreciation of stand out design.
However, this has changed over the last three years, with Samsung, Toshiba, Asus, and Acer (along with the other heavy weights), making significant inroads in design. What is nice about this is that we're provided with a variety of hardware, with each OEM looking to distinguish itself from the other OEM's.
Does this transition from price-point to design translate into superior function?
Windows PC's have, at their disposal, the largest network of devices. The sheer amount of variety is amazing--and of course, the quality of this "variety" could probably be plotted onto a graph--fitting the "bell" curve.
Apple PC's, on the other hand, have a more limited set of parts to be used. While Apple considers its choices to be more "selective" and "higher quality"--that really is subjective, and while I might not notice any difference were I a layman, I think that quality increases with diversity. Much akin to the argument about free-speech.
OK, enough with hardware--let's consider software: OS X vs. Windows...
I've used OS X devices before and I really don't see that much of a difference between it and Windows. However, I find some of its design elements to be a little archaic and kind of stifling. I'm more interested in producing or consuming the content, and would prefer an OS that attempts to maximize my efficiency in doing so. The menu system in OS X is kind of clunky, in my opinion, and, while notably shorter, reminds me of the massive lists used in Office 2003 except that the color scheme is black and white. How apps are displayed is essentially the same--you have something akin to a border, a header (with the ability to close apps, etc.), and such.
Not having right click really sucked. I don't understand why Apple would limit its hardware/software's ability to use more out of the mouse or trackpad I'm provided with. There are some mice on the Windows side that have 10+ buttons with customizable functions. I'm happy with two and a scroll wheel. But one is just jarring, and the "magic mouse" was kind of funky too. It's a little too sensitive on the desktop Macs. The trackpad on the MBP I used was excellent except for the lack of right click. I feel like this is just a waste of space.
As far as apps go, Macs seem pretty bare. Sure, they have a few starter apps (kind of like Windows Live), and I've heard that a lot of people use them for graphics design or whatnot--I'm not exactly sure why, considering that there's no right click. Let's put it this way--if you give both a Mac user and a Windows PC user an additional $200 on top of their $1,200 hardware, to spend on whatever they'd like to improve efficiency, I'm pretty sure that the PC user would oust the Mac user. For example, if I was the Windows user, I'd just buy that 10+ button mouse, and put copy, paste, etc., into the buttons. I'm pretty sure that'd save me 5 minutes on every hour, at the least, lol. The options for a Mac user just haven't been provided. Apple, I feel, has devoted itself to provided essentially two OS X devices (mac, mbp) that work well, but aren't really exceptional at anything.
On Windows, there is literally an "app for that." I really don't even need to describe how many apps there are for Windows--my one complaint, however, is that there really hasn't been that many, successful, consolidated efforts at establishing software libraries. Some may suggest that there are probably thousands of websites dedicated for that exact thing. My point is that when it comes to libraries, the idea of a Windows App store makes sense.
Alright, so Windows 8 is a different beast and is promising a better experience than Windows 7. Let me begin by saying that my budget isn't exactly constrained, and that I am used to fairly expensive, capable, and aesthetic computers. Hence, why I haven't really explored the whole "I can get a $500 windows PC that can do what your $1,300 MBP can do!" I've a penchant for expensive things, and honestly, almost considered buying a Mac for the price point alone. However, where Apple has been a very solid and proficient E-Class, the new Windows 8 PC's (at my price range) is like a troupe of Porsche's, Tesla's, M3's, and even an Aventador or two.
There's a considerable degree of variation of design among high-end Windows 8 PC's. They look and feel very nice--and many have more capable internals than their Apple counterparts. Additionally, many are easily adjusted and can be customized to a degree undreamed of within Mac circles. The hardware variety is just superb.
Back to Windows 8-- it's essentially windows 7 with the addend functionality of tablet usage. I can understand the whole "two OS's in one" description, because that's essentially what is going on. For my desktop I'm literally always in Desktop mode (except in cases where I need to search for an app, look up a file, etc.) On my laptop, however, Modern UI provides a refreshing and unique presentation. It also expands the capabilities of what a PC can do, and is bringing Microsoft full circle to it's vision of "three screens and a cloud."
In the future, I assume, you will keep a small computing device at home, and then use a big screen at home, carry a lightweight screen when you go out, and keep a small screen in your pocket at all times--all while being connected to the same "computer." This seamless experience is being offered, head-first, by Microsoft, and Windows 8 is a testament to that.
Some people dislike the tile interface--and that is their prerogative. However, choosing between static icons or live icons is pretty much a no brainer to me (I'd rather have function WITH form), and the full-screen space provided for each app is almost the same to what other, mobile, OS's offer. Windows 8 seems to be a better platform than iOS and Android. Comparing it to OS X is kind of a moot point now, as the two are widely divergent on mobile usage, while Windows offers a better desktop solution (basically it can do everything OS X can do, but faster and cleaner). From what I've heard just recently, Apple is considering to go the Windows route by slowly reducing their skeuomorphic design elements and by replacing it with a "cleaner" look.
Windows PC's have more variety and tend to integrate form with function to provide devices that can do more with comparable build quality and design with Apple. Windows 8 is a step above and two steps forward for computing--it's faster, more stable, and more capable than any other OS on the market. Even if you love Windows 7 you have to admit that Windows 8 is Windows 7+modern UI/start screen, with a cleaner and faster interface.
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I always choose Windows.