There has never been a better time to buy a personal computer. Today’s top machines are more powerful than ever, thanks to the two popular operating systems, Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s macOS. Therefore, computer shoppers have to make a decision before buying. Do you delve into the deep well of Windows machines or go for one of Apple’s premium MacBooks?

In this Mac vs. Windows article, we’ll help you make a choice of which operating system to choose based on performance, security, usability, and specific tasks. We break it down feature by feature, but first, let’s learn what an operating system is.

What is an Operating System?

An operating system (OS) is a software program loaded into the computer by a boot program and acts as an intermediary between computer users and computer hardware. It manages all applications and programs on a computer. The operating system allows users to interact with their devices by providing basic commands for tasks like managing files, running programs, and launching applications. OS also manages memory allocation, device drivers, security settings, input/output protocols, and more.

The application programs request services from the operating system through a designated application program interface (API). Users can also directly interact with the operating system through interfaces like a graphical user interface (GUI) or command-line interface (CLI). Popular operating systems include Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android. macOS and Windows are the most popular desktop operating systems, but what makes them stand out? Let’s find out.

Windows Overview

Windows, also known as Microsoft Windows, is an operating system provided by Microsoft Incorporation. It was first released in 1985 and has been the go-to choice for most personal computers worldwide. Microsoft has released several Windows versions, with the most recent version for Windows machines being Windows 11.  

Windows has an easy-to-use and navigate graphical user interface ( GUI) with features such as Taskbar and Start Menu. Moreover, it is compatible with a wide range of software and hardware, and its customizability allows users to change themes and settings.

macOS Overview

macOS is a proprietary graphical operating system provided by Apple Incorporation for Apple Mac computers. It’s based on the Unix operating system and was developed using Objective-C, C, C++, Swift, and assembly language. Apple launched the first macOS version in 2001, and its latest stable version is macOS 13 Ventura.

macOS is the second most popular operating system in computers after Windows. It has a clean and intuitive interface with features such as Mission Control and Dock. macOS integrates seamlessly with other Apple devices like iPhones, allowing Mac users to share files and data easily. Moreover, it has reliable built-in security features such as Gatekeeper, which protects the system from malware or malicious software.

With that said, let’s see how macOS and Windows stack up against each other.

Mac vs. Windows: Similarities and Differences

1. macOS vs. Windows: Hardware

According to StatCounter, 74% of computers worldwide run on Windows, dwarfing macOS, which accounts for 15%. This makes Windows the most pervasive operating system on the planet. macOS is exclusive to Apple computers, meaning it is only meant to run on computer options like  MacBooks, iMacs, Mac Minis and Mac Pros. On the other hand, there is a wide array of devices that Windows can run on, including nontraditional options like Raspberry Pi, HoloLens, and VR headsets.

Moreover, computers running on Windows have a greater degree of customization than Apple’s. You can more easily change a PC’s internal components, such as CPU, GPU, and storage, than with a Mac computer.

Since Windows runs on more devices, you are free to select a device that suits your budget. However, choosing the best Windows PC can be challenging because even those with similar specs may perform differently as different vendors manufacture them. Conversely, Apple produces its own software and hardware, making choosing the personal computer you need simpler, but the company’s prices can be steep for some individuals.

2. macOS vs. Windows: First-Party Apps 

Both operating systems come with their built-in or first-part apps and utilities. You will get the basics, including web browsers, calendars, contacts, voice recorders, file explorers, video and photo viewers and editors, calculators, mail clients, cameras, widgets, weather, news, maps, cloud-based storage, and more.

macOS and Windows have different names for similar office tools. For instance, while Microsoft Office has Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, the iWork office suite has Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. Microsoft also adds the nifty Teams, Sticky Notes, Translator, and Xbox gaming apps. On the other hand, macOS includes a superior video editor in iMovie, a streaming music service in Apple Music, and a preview utility.

Given their similarities, it’s hard to say which operating system has better office tools. But, unlike Microsoft Office, iWork is free.

3. macOS vs. Windows: Third-Party Apps 

You can download third-party apps on macOS and Windows through their respective app storefronts or the web. Mac App Store is more vital than Microsoft Store in terms of apps, but both operating systems support various programs and can install and run them directly from the web. Of course, this is a significant selling point of laptops, the ability to download software and files directly to your device without being limited to what the app store offers.

However, Windows support custom business applications, meaning the software available is more diverse on Windows than on Mac. This is especially true in some creative areas like photo editing, audio editing, and video editing. Moreover, you can run any Windows software on macOS if you emulate Windows settings on your Apple computer using software like Parallels.

So it is wise to think about what software you use regularly, then check if it is available on Mac, Windows, or both. 

4. macOS vs. Windows: Accessibility

Windows and macOS operating systems greatly support users with disabilities, but Microsoft has constantly made it a top priority. Both operation systems have text narration, screen magnification, braille support, voice input, and sticky and slow key entry, but with Windows PCs, a blind person can set up the system by voice. Microsoft has also added the Eye Control Basics, which allows you to control your Windows machines with your eyes, and the Adaptive Accessories to make PCs more accessible to disabled users.

Moreover, Microsoft works with the BeMyEye app and has American Sign Language support by videophone to connect visually impaired people with volunteers for visual assistance through live video calls. The company has also published a highly rated Seeing AI app for Apple’s iOS.

Both Windows and macOS also have 22H2, an update that adds live captions displaying text on the screen for any spoken audio from any source. 22H2 also has an improved Voice Access feature for controlling computers.

5. macOS vs. Windows: User Experience 

macOS has an intuitive design, friendly for most people. This operating system is built with the user experience at the forefront. In fact, if you have never used a computer, you will likely find macOS easier to handle. It features an easy-to-navigate menu bar, allowing you to quickly find apps and perform tasks with just a few clicks.  

Windows isn’t overly complicated, especially Windows 11. However, there are lots of menus and options when compared to macOS. While this can make troubleshooting a pain, it also means there’re multiple solutions to any given problem. Microsoft operating system also lets you arrange windows on the screen how you want and not how the OS wants.

The macOS Dock and Windows taskbar could also be a point of contention for some. Clicking on an app’s icon in the Dock doesn’t open a program window on macOS. Instead, you will see the app’s menu at the top of the screen in the Menu Bar. However, clicking a taskbar icon in Windows systems opens Menu options within a program’s window. Hovering the mouse cursor over a taskbar menu brings up a miniature of its program window, and the Taskbar Jump Lists allow you to see recently opened files in the app or jump to frequently needed actions in the program.

6. macOS vs. Windows: Security

Computers running Windows operating systems have been besieged with malware than Mac computers, including viruses, ransomware, spyware, botnets, and other vicious malware. But because Windows is ‘omnipresent,’ it is no surprise that it has to contend with a lot of malware.

However, Microsoft is doing an admirable job of constantly updating its security by pushing Windows Defender updates and introducing anti-ransomware measures. But given the sheer number of Windows users, this operating system still suffers a greater volume of attacks.

Conversely, macOS is more secure thanks to the company’s policies and fewer users. Fewer users mean fewer people creating malware for the operating system, but that doesn’t mean macOS is immune to security vulnerabilities. So, it’s still better to install antivirus software on your Mac.

7. macOS vs. Windows: Mobile Device Integration

When it comes to mobile device integration and compatibility, Apple’s ecosystem takes the lead. The company manufactures its own software and hardware, so it can make devices like iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, MacBook, AirPods, and Homepod work well with one another.

For instance, you get a text message on your iPhone and respond on your iPad or MacBook. The macOS Notification Panel allows you to send text messages by syncing up to your iPhone. Moreover, thanks to services like AirDrop and iCloud, you can share photos and files across various Apple devices in Apple Photos. Other integrated ecosystems include the Apple Watch, which can unlock an iPhone or Mac when it’s in proximity; Stage Manager, which allows you to share work across Macs and iPads; and the updated Continuity Camera, which lets you use your iPhone as a webcam.

On the other hand, devices supporting Windows are manufactured by different companies, thus, the platform does not enjoy the same interoperability level as the Apple ecosystem.  Even though you can’t seamlessly share data between devices as you would with Apple products, there is some integration on Windows.

With apps like Phone Link and Microsoft Launch that work with the best Android phones, you can call, text, share files and web pages between devices, and even run some Android apps on a Windows screen. This might not be as intuitive or expansive as Apple’s vaunted ecosystem, but it’s something.

8. macOS vs. Windows: Update Frequency

Windows receives more updates than macOS, especially security updates. Even though it’s good that Microsoft often releases security updates, updating Windows multiple times a month can be frustrating. And while security updates beef up security on Windows, these updates may sometimes cause issues. Numerous devices can run Windows, so some updates can cause unforeseen problems.

Conversely, macOS updates aren’t so many and don’t always work as intended. Nevertheless, they have a better track record than Windows updates. Since Apple releases fewer updates, it can take time to fine-tune them. And the company is releasing updates for its own products, so it can better ensure updates won’t cause any or many problems.

Apple and Microsoft release one yearly for significant updates that introduce new features. Microsoft has opted for annual releases like Apple instead of the more frequent vital updates.

9. macOS vs. Windows: Gaming 

If you are a hard-core gamer, Macs will not suffice. While macOS has plenty of excellent gaming services, including Apple Arcade and its version of the Steam store, Macs don’t allow the level of hardware customization that’s possible with PC. This enables users to upgrade components such as graphics cards and CPUs.

Regarding game selection, Windows is compatible with more top-level titles on Steam than macOS. The Windows Xbox app lets you stream games from the Microsoft and Xbox stores. You can get hundreds of downloadable and streaming games from Microsoft’s first-party studios and third-party publishers through Xbox Game Pass, which is Microsoft’s gaming subscription service. PlayStation games are also available on Windows via Sony’s PlayStation Now service.

Though macOS is behind on gaming, Apple is trying to make the platform more enticing to gamers. The innovation of the Apple M2 chip, macOS Ventura, and the Metal 3 API may make Mac gaming look better and take advantage of the graphical capabilities of Apple silicon.

But presently, Windows offers the best gaming platform over macOS.

Mac vs. Windows: Which Operating System is Right for You?

Apple computers are great for creative fields, including video and audio editing. Moreover, the seamless integration of macOS with other Apple devices is the envy of many tech brands. Thanks to its sleek and intuitive user interface, it is also the most user-friendly operating system that’s easy for even first-time computer users. And finally, macOS strong privacy and security features are practically unrivaled.

Conversely, if you value high-end PC gaming, Microsoft Windows is the real deal because of the support it receives from various game developers and publishers. Windows’ wide range of hardware and software compatibility also makes it ideal for most people, even if it is subject to most malware attacks. Even though it’s not as user-friendly as macOS, the Windows operating system delivers a good balance between simplicity and complexity.

Final Take on Mac vs. Windows

Both Windows and macOS are excellent operating systems with their own strengths and weaknesses. Microsoft Windows offers you a greater degree of freedom in terms of hardware and software customization, and it is available for more devices. Apple’s hardware offerings are not as robust or affordable as Windows PCs, but you will get a more finely-tuned user interface designed with ease of use at the forefront. Ultimately, the choice comes down to your preferences and what you need the computer for.

Featured Image by jannoon028 on Freepik

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *