In the early 80`s Apple was offering a WYIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) Operating Sytem (Mac OS) before Microsoft managed to get Windows to a "reasonable" level (Win95) ...
MS/DOS was back then viewed as immoral and as a crime against humanity by the folks at Apple. That`s when the flame wars Apple VS Microsoft all started ..
The lesson being : Without being technically superior to the competion and just with good marketing & offering (Visical was the application which boosted the sales for the PC MS/DOS, which was hugely adopted by corporate America, while the mac was a sexy beast without much software)
I`ve been stuck in the MS world since the MS DOS days because the PC was more prevalent, however I hope one day I could write software for the Mac if I can find a niche market ...
For what it`s worth I am going to chime in my opinion here. I own/operate a computer tech store (sales, service, repair) located in Texas.
We need to clarify a few terms being tossed around, because some of the comparisons that are being posted arent entirely accurate.
PC stands for personal computer, which originally back in the day meant anything smaller than the room sized computers that used to be used, Compaq originally coined the term and came out with the first "PC", to include Macs (which are really Apples, which is what MS/DOS was originally designed for, but I am going off on a tangent now).
Today, the term PC really means any Windows based computer (almost said PC, cant use the term in the definition now can ya). Dell (owns Alienware), HP (owns Compaq), Gateway (owns Emachines) and the myriad of generic and boutique brands out there fall into this category.
Macs up until 8 months ago, ran their own operating system OS X exclusively, and their own hardware. When Apple finally caved and started using Intel chips instead of their own IBM chips, you can now run Windows on a Mac.
To sum it up so far... its hard to compare a Mac (a brand) to a PC (a genre).
Here is the honest-to-God problem with PCs as a whole... crappy/lazy software (programs, device drivers (software that makes the hardware talk)). Windows 98, 98SE, ME, and to a lesser extent XP were designed with a wide latitude for margin of error when it comes to running code (think software).
Your average customer goes to a big box store and purchases a $49 Lexma** (dont want to get into trouble) printer and installs it on their home PC, 6 hours later, for some unknown reason, their internet connection starts developing problems and we unwittingly blame it on Windows, now why a printer manufacturer would require that its printing software have unfettered access to the internet is beyond me (I actually do know, but thats another rant). So the problem actually lies inside the printer software code that broke your Internet Explorer connection because its the printer software is trying to get your IE connection to do things it does not recognize and Windows will try to make it right.
I feel like I am getting waay off course here... let me try to sum it all up.
Mac (being a brand as well as a computer) controls ALL the hardware and is much more stringent on the software working with their operating system, which is why there is so much less of it (software).
PCs and all their different flavors allows for some pretty interesting hardware/software combinations. If you decide to purchase from one of the BIG 3, dont spend less than $1,000 (sans monitor) for a desktop, or $1,600 for a laptop. The specifications at that point really don`t matter, but the quality of the components that go inside are much much much higher than you $299 *ell desktop splashed all over the TV. Higher quality hardware directly translates into higher quality device drivers (software) for those parts. If you purchase from a reputable local shop (my choice), you will get much more bang for your buck over the BIG 3.
Windows Vista changes everything in the PC world. The biggest screamers and complainers are the people or manufacturers trying to run software (think device drivers for the hardware) that is not certified to run on Vista. Vista changes the way EVERYTHING works, buggy software will flat out not run, software that trys to do things that could potentially destabilze the system (crappy programmers) will not run. In fact, you could reasonably say that Macs (now being able to run XP) are more PC-like than Vista machines.
I am not a MS advocate, nor am I a Mac hater, I like to think I just take care of my customer`s needs in any way that I can using whatever tools I deem necessary.
Vista has gotten a lot of bad press because it lost the backwards compatibility that has PLAGUED Windows since 95 (which was really just DOS with graphics). So all the hardware/software that has been floating around since the mid 90s no longer works. If you dont follow the Vista rules, you do not get to play. That is exactly how Macs have operated btw for the last 17 years and yet noone seems to have made that connection (beat up on the big guy syndrome I guess).
Vista is ready for primetime... unfortunately a lot of hardware/peripherials/software (did I spell that right?) isnt ready for the new set of rules to play by. Almost forgot... Vista Compatible or Vista Recommended is a marketing ploy, if it does not say Vista CERTIFIED it hasnt passed the play nice test and you are installing at your own risk.
Macs are fine when your running Mac software, the minute you add Windows to the environment, you have the potential to bring all the old legacy problems with you if choose anything but Vista.
PCs are fine as long as you keep the price up (if you shop at garage sale prices, expect garage sale like results, crap.) like we talked about earlier and try to run Vista if at all possible if you can handle the reduced hardware/software selections (sounds kinda like a Mac doesnt it?!?) for awhile.
(personal opinions below, take it for what its worth)
Anything Lexmark = crap
HP color lasers = crap (they pull from every color to make black even though there is black cartridge present)
HP black/white lasers = average, anything with personal in its name = price gouge when it comes to replacement toners and parts. Professional/Commercial series = fantastic, but you pay for it.
Epson = good to excellent, you pay a bit more, but its worth it.
Brother = same as Epson, makes great SOHO equipment.
Compaq = just a rebranded HP with a suckage warranty.
HP = crap, loaded with tons of trialware (software that you must buy after 30 days, etc.) and full of software bloat (software that is much bigger than it needs to be and trys to do to much at once.)
Dell = if you spend less than $800 (think 99% of the Dimension line) for just the tower, get to know your local computer tech real well, put em on your Christmas card list. XPS systems much better computer.
Gateway = somewhat crap, not as crappy as HP. Read your warranty very very carefully.
Symantec = crap. Used to be awesome, loved em, nothing but software bloat now.
McAfee = crap, I dont understand why they are still in business, I seriously don`t, here is a tidbit for ya, any computer reselller can pick up McAfee anti-virus for about $7, I personally wouldnt take it for free.
AVG - fantastic anti-virus software. Paid or free version 100% the same.
Emsisoft - A Squared anti-malware software is fantastic.
Webroot Anti (whatever) - developed in cahoots with Best Buy, which is why they shove it down your throat, take a look at A Squared.
For what it`s worth I am going to chime in my opinion here. I own/operate a computer tech store (sales, service, repair) located in Texas.Epson cheap printer cartridges from InkJetSuperStore.com= good to excellent, you pay a bit more, but its worth it.
Brother = same as Epson, makes great SOHO equipment.
I totally agree with you with Epson and Brother printer. I own an Epson printer, not one, not two but three printers. Well it is because I have my own business.