The Macintosh platform, is made up of one single brand; Apple. This means to buy into this platform or more specifically a PC capable of running Mac OS X your choice of hardware is limited to that provided by Apple, whose narrow range of models does not cover the needs and wants of everyone.
See also reason 21
This is in stark contrast to other PC operating systems the most prominent being Microsoft's Windows which are much less tethered to specific hardware. They will run on anything; including a Mac. So today you could have a Dell, tomorrow an Acer, then a self built box. That's the kind of freedom you foresake if you buy into the Macintosh platform.
So that's a unequivocal negative for the Mac, and a big thumbs up for the PC... Yes?
Every cloud, etc...
As you will have gathered, there is a fundamental contrast in how Microsoft and Apple approach the business of computers. And it's not by accident.
Microsoft is primarily a software company whose approach to computing is that of modularity, with their OS as the linchpin. This gives the consumer the freedom to choose from the massive selection of hardware from any PC hardware vendor. Microsoft's business model revolves around their OS being the default choice to make it all compatible. This is the PC platform.
Apple however, follows the somewhat different approach of providing a complete integrated solution, i.e. their hardware inextricably tied to their OS.
The downsides of Apple's approach, has already been covered i.e. limited to a single hardware vendor but what's maybe not quite so obvious, are the advantages?
The weaknesses of modularity
Using the Microsoft approach of the hardware being interchangeable, the OS has to be able to work with every conceivable combination of hardware. That's from every PC manufacturer, each with many models, past and present, each assembled with numerous possible components from numerous vendors, plus the almost infinite combination of no-name-brand and home built PCs. Their OS can make very few assumptions as to what hardware it will be expected to be running on. All it can do is hope that it and their associated driver software, all adhere to the correct standards to the letter.
Result being, when Microsoft designs an OS, or updates its existing OS, the amount of development and testing needed to account for this massive combination of potential hardware configurations, is a huge undertaking. And while I'm sure they do their best to minimise problems and conflicts, things don't always go according to plan; to put it very mildly.
The positives of integration
The Apple approach of an integrated end-to-end solution, can suffer some of the same issues. After all, a Mac is still a PC made of PC components, and not every piece of software or hardware is made by Apple. But their Macintosh PCs are of their design. And in knowing exactly what major hardware components its OS will be running on, it's not hard to imagine how it would be much easier to develop that said OS, with much fewer unexpected compatibility issues, and potentially result in a much more stable computing environment.
...it's swings and roundabouts folks. Each philosophy has its advantages and disadvantages, but unfortunately, they are mutually exclusive. Neither approach is inherently right or wrong. So it's simply down to individual's priorities and preferences. To each their own.
Page content last updated 25 July 2008