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Consumers Win as Apple Gets Bigger

As summer passes and 2006 fades into 2007, it looks as though the ongoing battle between Microsoft’s Windows Vista and Apple’s OS X Leopard will prove to be one of the greats recorded in the annals of computer history. Some reports say that a winter ad campaign by Apple could give it the momentum it needs to become a major player in the global operating system market.

Similar battles are taking place on the hardware front as well. Though Dell still commands the hardware market, its share is expected to drop as much as 14% while Apple looks to jump 6% or more this year. Aside from market share, Apple is also doing well in the quality arena, often getting high marks from all who test their hardware.

As companies scramble to pack great features into secure operating systems, and hefty processors into small packages, the consumers are getting something they have not had in quite a while: a choice. For the longest time, the average computer user has only known one operating system and hardware platform: Windows on a PC. However, with Apple’s iPod success, it seems many new and old consumers alike are curious about what Apple has to offer in its computer product lines. The interesting thing is that since Mac and PC platforms are somewhat mutually exclusive, all companies are trying their hardest to convince consumers that their platform is the best as it could be a long-term decision made by the user. So whether you like OS X on a Macbook or Windows on your Dell, one thing seems certain: the choices in the computer market are moving in favor of the consumer as Apple’s success continues.

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Switched? by markmcb

I’m curious if anyone out there has recently made the switch to Mac, and whether or not you’re glad you did. I’d be even more interested to hear from someone who switched to Windows from Mac.

It’s interesting for me to hear people’s reasons because I’m so (Mac) biased. The only reason I can see to use Windows is the software base it has, but I think that is quickly diminishing. And even if you like Windows as an operating system, the PC architechture seems archaic in many ways (e.g., BIOS and the often nasty mesh of PC hardware). Linux is cool as a workhorse, but for a personal system it simply requires too much effort to maintain and keep it running. Mac has served me well. It doesn’t crash, the hardware doesn’t fight each other, 95% of the applications I need are included with OS X, and all apps live in harmony with each other. Plus if anything is ever wrong with my computer, I only have one company to blame for most things (Apple) rather than a whole slew (Dell, Microsoft, Adobe). :-)

Anyway, I’m rambling. I’m just curious if there are any well-founded opinions out there.

The recent refresh (and price drop of low end model!) of the iMacs to Core 2 Duo caught my eye; ironically, it was the less trumpeted upgrade of the lower end Mac Mini to the 1.66 Ghz Core Duo that I was more interested in.

I just feel that Macs, at least in terms of hardware, are very very uncustomizable. I probably am silly for wanting this, but I still would like the option to possibly upgrade my video card, add more memory, a better sound card, etc. Whether or not I’d actually do all of those is questionable, but that’s the one big thing I like about PC’s.

Maybe I’m just spoiled from Windows, but I also think it is silly that Apple has released 4 OS updates in the same time I can remember Windows XP has been out. Sure, each OS X update probably didn’t give anything super critical for a regular user but if Apple didn’t support the older OS X version in terms of security still, I for one would be pissed at the ‘forced’ OS upgrades. ($400 – $600 total for all 4 ?)

Don’t get me wrong, I still lust after a Mac, but I appreciate it more just because it is another option at this point. I’m not experienced enough to know the good points of OS X and will likely stay that while for at least the near future. I think Apple is also heading in the right direction by having more reasonably priced merchandise…but there are always cheaper (though not necessarily better) PC alternatives.

As Apple managed to get Windows to dual-boot onto their hardware, my big question is this: What is stopping them from releasing OS X to be installed on any current x86 platform?

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