Mac vs. PC: Does it matter, since the browser is everything?

Summary:The latest xkcd cartoon says it all. When so much is run within the browser, does the Mac vs. PC debate really matter anymore?

The Mac vs. PC battle rages on.

Source: xkcd

Apple fans are on the most part staunchly against anything relating to Windows, and Microsoft fans are baffled and confused at anything relating to Apple.

But the online cartoon, xkcd, personifies this ongoing war of words between the two camps, and nails it down to one single point.

"And since you do everything through the browser now, we're pretty indistinguishable".

Well, someone had to say it.

I have two machines -- a recently updated PC upstairs in my office; a tower computer with two monitors, running Windows 7 Ultimate x64.

And my recent purchase of the new MacBook Air has not gone without many questioning my sanity.

Going into the Mac vs. PC debate is pointless, and frankly would be endless and go on ad infinitum. I would never stop comparing the two operating systems, the hardware they both have, the power consumption or the social status so many aspire to achieve.

But I look at the two machines I run -- my MacBook Air downstairs, actually in front of me as I type this -- and find besides the aesthetic disparity, both are all but identical in what they do.

I run Chrome on both machines -- Windows and Mac OS X Lion -- simply for the reason that it runs consistently and superbly on both operating systems. I have Office 2010 upstairs and Office 2011 on my Mac. I also have Skype, iTunes, Windows Live Messenger and Messenger:mac running on both.

Besides that, I barely run anything else.

I appreciate not everyone has the luxury of running what may appear to be quite a simple technological life. But when so much is provided from one shortcut icon on the desktop, does it really matter what is on the periphery?

Start menu or Dock, window title bar or persistent top menu -- it isn't even what you focus on when you're browsing anyway.

But while my email is cloud-hosted, it is accessible via my BlackBerry, my iPod touch, my Mac or my PC -- either from Outlook on both computers or through the web browser; again on both. My Skype conversations and instant messaging contacts are available on the two machines, as are my Dropbox sync'd documents.

Again, this rolls back to being an operating system agnostic. I am, and I bet money you are too.

But so many are stuck in their ways and frankly afraid of going anywhere else, let alone learning a new environment, they stick with what they know best and barely deviate outside their hollow little worlds.

I took the jump, and feel so much better for it. Regardless of device I am using, I now know the platforms of both Windows and Mac OS X. Granted, I'm stronger on Windows because I've used it more. But I am, rather quickly if I am honest, getting there with the quirks and differences with Mac OS X.

Yet all of this is waffle. It boils down to one, simple point.

My world is in the browser. So many people's worlds are in the browser. From email to games, productivity to office documents -- even the browser itself.

To survive in this new and emerging world, not only do you need to run your applications on all platforms available -- at very least cross-platforms to Windows and Mac -- you need to branch out to the web, too.

Related content:

Topics: Apple, Browser, Hardware

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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