It has always been widely believed that Windows are general purpose personal and business machines (home users, professional services firms or engineering companies), whereas Macs are for the cool college kids and media markets (publishing agencies, graphics design or video production).
The reality is that it’s much fuzzier than what people believe. There is a reality that Windows machines are better in the likes of the engineering world where bespoke but narrow-marketed software is required – why would the vendors want to spend money on making Mac-based versions when they have a slim body of consumers in any case? However, so many other businesses with large-scale client applications (as opposed to web-based ones) could realistically use either. Software companies have responded to a shift in interest from the consumer and have made their tools integral with the Mac market, as is the case with hardware suppliers, allowing their devices to be Mac-compatible.
Individuals such as students and home users are more inclined to make a choice to outweight cost vs user friendliness. Macs are widely regarded as trendier and prettier than Windows machines, but they do come at quite a price hike for a similar spec machine. There is also the question on reliability. Windows machines are notorious for random crashes and viruses whereas Macs are often recognised for their resilience, though it has to be said that virus makers are learning more about how to attack Macs in recent years.
Some people will need both – software developers, web developers and IT support teams will need them for testing and diagnostic purposes, to make sure the product they’re creating or the service they’re offering can be made available to both sets of customers. Some people will want both – technology fanatics will want to be up to date as much as possible.
The two operating systems have worked hard to be interoperable with each other – there are still gaps and for example, the functionality in the latest version of Microsoft Office for Mac and Windows do vary slightly, but it’s a lot better than it used to be.
So in essence, the market provides a more balanced choice for consumers today. Apple have gained a large majority of the market share – and once that momentum starts, it’s hard to shift it…but with Windows 8 and iOS6 on the horizon (and Mac OS X Mountain Lion recently released), we expect the battle for the market share to continue – and in our opinion that retains a healthy consumer environment!