10 Reasons Why the Microsoft-Apple Battle Helps PC Buyers

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2009-10-26 Print this article Print

News Analysis: As the marketing battle between Apple and Microsoft continues to heat up, desktop and notebook buyers are benefiting from improvements in features, security and user experience on both platforms. Apple keeps hammering away with the message that its platform is more secure and reliable. Microsoft is counting on improvements in Windows 7 to trigger a sustained wave of hardware and operating system upgrades that will keep buyers committed to the Windows platform. Here are 10 reasons why the Microsoft-Apple market war is a win-win situation for PC buyers.

With Windows 7 finally on store shelves and updated Macs gracing Apple stores around the United States, a new era in the battle between Microsoft and Apple is under way. Microsoft has its new operating system running on PCs from several vendors. Apple has its own new operating system running on Macs. Each company is trying to convince users that its own service is better than the competition's.

Meanwhile, the person buying the computer will benefit most. When two major companies battle it out with each other, it's usually the user that wins out. Here's why:

1. Competition is good

Although Microsoft commands a significant portion of the operating system market, the fact that Apple has had some success gaining market share over the past few years is good for the computer buyer. Microsoft needs to find a way to improve its offering to compete with Apple. Apple needs to find a way to continue staying one step ahead of Microsoft. And, in the end, it's the person buying a computer who wins.

2. Software improvements

There's little debating that Windows 7 sports several features that were inspired by Mac OS X. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Microsoft has realized both Windows Vista's limitations and Mac OS X's virtues. That has helped Microsoft make Windows 7, in my opinion, the most appealing operating system it has released in a long time. Mac OS X, a fine operating system in its own right, needs to be thanked for that.

3. Premium versus budget

Apple has decided that it is a premium provider of a premium product. With the release of a new slate of Macs, the hardware company has proven that if customers want elegance, sophistication and robust design, Apple will provide it. That said, the company has made its MacBook and Mac Mini affordable to those who don't want to pay a premium price. It was undoubtedly a response to Windows-based alternatives.

Microsoft has designed its operating system to appeal to those who may or may not want to spend thousands on a new computer. Windows 7 Starter Edition works well with netbooks. Windows 7 Ultimate is ideal for high-end PCs. Simply put, customers looking to buy either a Mac or PC have a choice today when they head to the store to buy their next computer.

4. Price wars

When a battle between two big companies is waged, a price war inevitably erupts. When Apple released Mac OS X "Snow Leopard," it offered the operating system for $29. A family five-pack went on sale for $49. Windows 7 is more expensive than Snow Leopard, but it's actually cheap when we consider original pricing for Vista. It seems that Microsoft has realized that operating systems need to be affordable to appeal to users. That's a good thing.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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