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Mac versus PC for the business world


Apple Computers, with Steve Jobs at the helm in the early to mid-eighties, launched the Macintosh computer. This was more than just a computer with a fancy interface; it was a revolution in personal computing. The main competitor to Apple in those days was IBM, and the personal computer. Other manufacturers besides IBM made personal computers, and these were called "IBM compatibles".

The main difference between the IBM world and the Apple world is this: Apple wanted to control everything. They wanted to write all their own software, or control it very tightly. In the IBM world, third party software development exploded.Eventually, the PC would catch up to the Apple technology and surpass it in market share due to third party software developers.

The Macintosh in the early eighties was brilliant. Instead of ugly character based screens, it offered a graphical interface with pictures, icons and fonts. It offered real recorded sounds instead of beeps, character only interfaces, and cryptic hand typed commands at a DOS (Disk Operating System) prompt. Apple computers were way ahead of the PC in terms of usability, multitasking, and overall value.

By 1985, Bill Gates and Microsoft fought back by creating an additional layer on top of DOS called "Windows".Microsoft knew that the ugly IBM compatible screens would not be able to compete against the dazzling graphical screens with sound that the Macintosh offered, and so they released Windows to help make that IBM PC more like the Apple interface.

In the late eighties, computer hardware was still up and coming in both the Mac and the PC. On a PC, having a hard drive was too expensive for most PC owners. They did most of their computing with 5 ΒΌ floppy drives. If you had two drives, you could use one for your software and one for your data. This kind of environment made it difficult for the PC to thrive in a Windows environment. By the time larger hard drives were standard in PCs in the early nineties, and computer hardware had caught up to what software was able to do, Windows version 3.1 exploded onto just about every new computer in North America. This was the version of Windows that changed the way we think about PCs and that made Microsoft rich.

During these years, Apple computers consistently had a better product than what the PC could offer. Their computers were also more expensive, and in the business world, when you are purchasing hundreds of computers for your employees and still be able to do on a PC what Apple is able to do, then you are going to go with the PC. In addition to this, cheap third party software and programming languages geared toward the PC made the whole environment very attractive.

As Microsoft continued to improve its versions of Windows with its line of 32 bit versions, and as PC hardware got better and better, and with the internet and the World Wide Web coming to fruition, the PC was unstoppable in market share, overall value, and choice. Most computer purists would agree that Apple consistently made a better product, and stayed ahead of the curve when it came to technology. The biggest downfall of Apple was that they wanted to control the hardware and software for their computers. One company cannot compete against a whole industry. This control over their product is ironically what made them have a better product, and even today there are Apple loyalists who will stand by Apple no matter what, but they are a dying breed.

In addition to Windows, many computer professionals are turning to the open source Linux operating system for professional applications. Unlike Windows, there are many companies offering Linux. Might we someday see history repeat itself? Maybe, but Microsoft has played their game well. They have not only dominated the operating system market, but business applications as well.

In the business world, when deciding which platform to use, the PC makes the most sense because it is more affordable, and has the best third party and industry support.

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