Mac vs Windows – What’s the Difference?

If you’re looking at getting a new PC, you’ve got to decide between the two main operating systems; Mac and Windows. These two OS’s are made by different companies, but their actual differences go way beyond a simple logo.

Using a Mac is a completely different experience to a Windows PC, and each has pros and cons in different categories. There are quite a few more differences than those on the surface level, but which is better?

Windows is by far the market leader, with more than 80% of computers running it. However, the amount of these users that are institutions rather than personal PC is up for debate. In terms of PCs for use by a single person, Mac and PC are both valid options. So, what’s the actual difference?

Mac vs Windows Laptops – How They’re Different

If you’re new to laptops, then I’ll run through the basics pretty quickly. The first big difference that jumps to mind is that they’re made by different manufacturers. This might sound simple, but it’s actually a crucial reason why Apple have increased so much in popularity over the last decade.

Windows PCs can be made by a whole range of companies that all have Microsoft’s operating system pre-installed. Whilst Microsoft, who make Windows, do have their own line of laptops too, other brands have to licence their software for their device.

This means that a Windows laptop comes in different brands – Lenovo, Dell and HP being a few of the main ones. In comparison to this, Macs are only made by Apple. In some people’s eyes, this gives them the advantage of controlling both the software and the hardware of their devices, whereas Windows only make the software.

Apple devices are custom-built to run a Mac OS and their hardware is integrated seamlessly into the user experience. Each of these operating systems has its pros and cons, so it is worth exploring what the actual difference is in more detail.

As their simplest, Mac and Windows boil down to their operating systems. This is the software that runs your PC, everything that you interact with when you’re using it. It’s an important software, as it allows your laptop and all of the programs you install to work together.

The Mac OS can only run on Mac computers. These are Apple manufactured and built specifically for using this OS. Windows is made by Microsoft can run on a variety of devices. You can even boot windows up on your Mac in you’re inclined towards that. 

The Mac OS: Easy to use, less vulnerability but also less programs

macbook

Macs are essentially just PCs built to run the Mac OS. They feature a different interface that is pretty distant from what you might know in Windows. The main difference is that Macs are only produced by Apple. This means the hardware and software you’re using are considerably more in-sync.

You won’t be locked out of any feature by your hardware as you would with a PC. This has a lot of benefits, especially if you’re looking for a smooth and polished experience. 

In terms of security, Macs tend to be safer. They’re more stable since their software and hardware are in sync. There also isn’t as much malware created to attack Macs. This is largely due to the amounts of them out there in the world, as most malware is made for Windows device.

Since PCs are used by 80% of the world, a hacker would get better results targeting them for your malicious malware. This doesn’t mean there aren’t viruses for Macs, but they’re a lot rarer since there are fewer potential victims.

One big drawback of Macs is they aren’t very modular or repairable. Apple would prefer it if you never touched the insides of your Mac and replaced it the second it slowed down or broke.

They have this approach to everything they make. This is criticised as being anti-consumer, and it has even gotten them into trouble with regulators before.

This isn’t the end of the world though. There are repairs available to you both from Apple and third-party repairers, but parts are more expensive and it often voids your warranty to fiddle with anything outside of an Apple store.

Pros

With Apple products, there are a few things that stand out when considering what is good about them. Here’s a few of their best points.

  • Integrated Hardware and Software – Makes it easier for the two to work in tandem together.
  • Greater Stability – Less chance that you’ll have to completely reboot your computer.
  • Fewer Malware Risks – Barely any viruses created to attack Macbooks compared to Windows.
  • Integrated with iPhones, iPads, and iPods at a core level – Perfect if you want to have connectivity between all your devices.
  • Intuitive and Easy to Use Interface – Probably their best feature, as they’re very easy for you to use.
  • All OS Updates are Free – Never have to worry about updates costing you anything in the future.

Cons

At the other end, although Mac users may tell you their laptop is perfect, this isn’t actually the case. There’s more than 1 criticism about their products.

  • Not Very Repairable – If anything goes wrong, you’ll rely on Apple to fix it at a big cost.
  • Can’t upgrade – You can’t even add any extra RAM into Apple products which is frustrating.
  • More Expensive than PCs – Typically carry a premium over Windows laptops.
  • Less Software Available – Although most things are created for both Windows and Apple, some software is Windows only. In the modern day, this is definitely less and less of a problem, but you’ll still find some software that’s Windows only.

Benefits of a Macbook (Using the Mac OS)

Here are some of the benefits of choosing a Macbook over a Windows laptop.

  • It will crash less – Although newer Windows laptops are less likely to crash than ever, they typically will still crash on occasion. In comparison to this, I’ve used Macbook’s for a decade and none of them have ever crashed. So if you want more stability, then a Macbook might be a good idea.
  • It has a much cleaner user experience – If we’re being honest, the main reason that people opt to use Macs nowadays is that the user experience is better. Obviously this is subjective, but many people find the design and functionality of a Macbook far better than the Windows alternative.
  • Easy integration with iPhone – Another very prominent reason why people opt for a Macbook is that it’s very easy to integrate it with your iPhone. This means that you can easily get your emails, messages and contacts up on your laptop without any hassle. This can be a bit of a chore with a Windows laptop. You can even take calls on your Macbook if you have an iPhone linked up to it.
  • (Almost) No viruses – Although Macbooks can still get viruses, they are much less likely than if you’re using a Windows laptop. However with a Windows laptop, you will get viruses if you don’t have a good anti virus software in place,
  • Easy cloud integration – If you’re happy using cloud storage, then this is another reason why you should opt for a Mac. Syncing all your devices up with the iCloud makes for a seamless experience.
  • The trackpad is 10x better – Okay, I might be a little biased on this one but using the trackpad on a Macbook is a ton easier than using the trackpad on say, a Lenovo Thinkpad. It just makes the whole experience easier and you can easily scroll with a Macbook trackpad.

Windows OS

windows-laptop

Windows PCs are the vast majority of devices out there, so it is actually quite hard to make any generalisations about them. This is kind of what makes them different from Macs. With a Mac, you have a choice between a big Mac or a small Mac – and that’s about it.

A desktop Mac, MacBook Pro, and MacBook air all run essentially the same but with a few added features. If we tried to list all the different devices that can run windows you would be here for a very long time.

Windows is an operating system that is built to work in as many varied places as possible. This is comparable to Android; the focus is on building an accessible platform. It means that Windows PCs are generally the norm, most computers just run Windows as standard.

Windows PCs have a much greater software library since they have a bigger audience. They also have a much bigger library of malware and viruses though. Proper protective software is a lot more important on a PC than a Mac.

One big benefit of having an operating system that runs on just about anything is how upgradable a PC is. You can swap out components, mess around with elements of your build, or even put an entire PC together from odd parts and have it run windows. 

Pros

In the argument between the two, there are those that think Windows is best. Here’s a few of the reasons why they might think so.

  • Cheaper – On average, Windows laptops average out as cheaper than their Apple counterparts.
  • Runs on a Variety of Devices – You can run Microsoft Windows 10 on different devices.
  • Much Wider Software Library – The ability to download more software with a Windows laptop is undeniable.
  • Upgradable, Repairable, and Modular – You can extend the lifespan of your Windows laptop by upgrading it further down the line (typically not the graphics card though).

Cons

In the battle between Mac vs PC, it’s only fair we mention the downsides you may face with a Windows device too.

  • Can be more Technical – The more technically minded folk will be able to make use of a Windows laptop better.
  • Much Bigger Risk of Malware – The vast majority of viruses like trojan horses are created for Microsoft Windows.
  • One Size Fits all Approach isn’t the Best for All Devices – Windows being the most popular doesn’t mean it’s the best.
  • OS Updates Aren’t Free or Cheap – There might be cases where an OS update will actually cost you money.

Benefits of Using a Windows Laptop (Windows OS)

It’s only fair that we look at some of the advantages of using a Windows laptop, too!

  • Windows laptops are often cheaper – Okay, I’m as big of a fan as Macbooks as anyone, but let’s be honest – they’re way too expensive. For the amount you pay for an 8GB laptop with Apple, you could buy a 16GB laptop with most of the other brands out there. With Apple, you’re really paying for the GUI and customer service. If this isn’t of the utmost importance to you, then a Windows laptop might be better.
  • You can upgrade them later down the line – This isn’t the case for all Windows laptops, but with many of them you’ll have the option to upgrade later down the line. This isn’t the case with new Apple laptops, as they’re making it more difficult for users to upgrade the laptop themselves.
  • Cheaper support – Although Apple support is good, it’s really expensive and they’ll only help you if your machine is in warranty. However, to combat this many Windows laptops are being sold with free warranties or cheaper warranties, which is definitely valuable for those buying a new laptop.
  • Abundance of ports – In danger of this turning into a rant about my love and hate of Apple, the last thing I’ll mention is the ports. Apple laptops nowadays have two ports on the side, with no USB port. This means that most people end up having to buy an adapter to plug in their USB sticks to charge anything! Most Windows laptops will still come with USB ports, and some will come with more than that (HDMI etc).

What is Similar With Mac and Windows?

Mac and Windows might be pretty different, but they have a lot of similarities. If you’re looking to switch between them, these are the things that will essentially still be the same

  • Both are compatible with the vast majority of peripherals. Mice and keyboards will work on both operating systems, although Macs don’t require drivers to be manually installed, updated, and maintained.
  • Both have inbuilt voice assistants. Macs have Siri and Microsoft has Cortana.
  • They both run many of the same programs. If you’re looking to use Microsoft Office, Unity, or any other specific program you’ll likely find it can run on both Mac and Windows. There are exceptions to this, but the major software producers make their software available on both Mac and PC.
  • You can use a right-click on both. This is worth mentioning since so many people think Macs are inherently incompatible with a right-click. Using an external mouse or assigning one half of your trackpad as a right-click restores this functionality. However, Macs are designed around keyboard shortcuts rather than right-clicking.

Which is Better, Mac or PC?

Ultimately which is better out of these two operating systems is going to come down to which type of device you’re looking for. If you’re building a gaming PC, then Windows is pretty much your only choice.

A lot of games don’t run on Mac, and they’re incompatible with the modular upgrade system that allows for most gaming PCs to be upgraded over time.

Mac hardware is locked out of high-performing games. Equally, if you’re looking for something on a budget that you can repair and upgrade as you need to rather than replacing wholesale, then a PC is better for you.

If you go for a Mac, it is specifically because you want a Mac. Its pros are essential that it is a lot more cohesive and gives a different experience. They cost more, often lack software, and can be complicated for people who have only ever used Windows PCs.

However, these pros are definitely worth it for some people. But, if you’re looking for a laptop on a budget, then a Mac isn’t going to be for you.

Macs provide a fluid intuitive experience, and you don’t need to spend much time researching which device to buy. Every Mac can handle the majority of office activities without breaking a sweat, which makes them a lot easier to buy than a Windows PC.

The difference between Mac and Windows comes down to a lot of factors, but your choice between them only comes down to what you want from a PC.

Most people struggle to decide between the two, so don’t worry if you are – you definitely aren’t alone. In my mind, it’s quite simple to decide whether you should opt for one over the other.

If you’re want the best deal possible, are an avid gamer, use Microsoft Excel a lot or you want more control over your laptop in general, then you should definitely opt for Windows. Windows laptops will give you a powerful laptop for your price.

However if you’re a graphic designer or an artist, or you want a simple experience, then it’s a better idea to opt for Apple, as their user experience is second to none in my opinion.

Do Macs last longer than Windows?

If you’re comparing a Mac to a Lenovo Thinkpad, then I wouldn’t say that they last much longer on average. But the Thinkpad is just one specific type of Windows laptop. If we compare across the whole board, then generally Macs will last longer than a Windows laptop. Apple put a lot of time into making their products durable and they last for longer than the average laptop.

Do Macs need antivirus like Windows?

One thing that you’ve probably heard is that Macs are less susceptible to viruses than Windows laptop. This is true, as Macs are UNIX based, which is generally safer than a Windows laptop.

Is it hard to switch from Windows to Mac?

If you’re a little worried about making the switch between the two, then you don’t need to think about it too much. For most people, it might take a few weeks for them to get used to using a Macbook. But after this, you should get used to the device pretty easily and find it straightforward for you to use.

Is Windows 10 free for Mac?

If you want to use Windows 10 on your Macbook, then you can still do so pretty easily. You can use Boot Camp Assistant to set Windows 10 up on your Apple laptop. It is a fairly straightforward process, although many people prefer to stay with the Mac OS.

Is Mac faster than Windows?

Again, if you compare a Macbook to a standard Windows laptop, then a Mac is going to be faster. But that’s because Mac only really deal in premium computers. If you compare a Macbook Air to a premium line from a Windows brand, then you’re not going to notice much difference in terms of speed.

Conclusion

Overall, these are just a few reasons why I’d opt for one brand over the other. The reality is that both brands have their ups and downs, and it really depends on your criteria and what you want from a laptop more than anything else.

It’s difficult to compare them in terms of build quality, as each model will be slightly different. It’s fair to say that on average, Macs are the better choice – but that’s only averaging them both out (and Apple only have two laptops to choose from!).

About Alex

Hello, I'm Alex and this is my website, Spacehop. I started the site as a way to talk about myself, and a few years later we're now a team of 6! I still work full time at a major PC retailer in the UK, and I'm a bit of a tech whizz (self-proclaimed, unfortunately!).

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