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

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?

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TOPICS: Apple, Browser, Hardware
124

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.

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Topics: Apple, Browser, Hardware

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124 comments
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  • RE: Mac vs. PC: Does it matter, since the browser is everything?

    If browsers were the only thing that matters, we would all be working on chromebooks.<br>But we don't...

    <br>And BTW I am not using browser for e-mail, productivity, games or office. You seem to be assuming that if you are doing it then so does everyone else.
    Scrabbler
    • RE: Mac vs. PC: Does it matter, since the browser is everything?

      @Scrabbler I agree with the Chromebook sentiment. If we were all "truly" browser based then the Chromebook would be fine. Problem there is that there are very few applications for Chrome OS. Multi-platform applications for Macs/PCs are great -- but the browser is still where we spend most of our time.
      zwhittaker
      • RE: Mac vs. PC: Does it matter, since the browser is everything?

        @zwhittaker

        Who's "we"?
        bobiroc
      • RE: Mac vs. PC: Does it matter, since the browser is everything?

        @zwhittaker I browse the web in my browser, nothing more. Serious stuff does not belong in a browser.
        Tommy S.
      • RE: Mac vs. PC: Does it matter, since the browser is everything?

        @zwhittaker

        My time is spent divided between IE9, Firefox, Microsoft Office, Windows Live, Zune, and Paint.NET.

        I have yet to see anyone completely live in a browser for more than a few minutes.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • RE: Mac vs. PC: Does it matter, since the browser is everything?

        @zwhittaker

        <em>"...but the browser is still where we spend most of our time."</em>

        Really, I don't spend most of my time in my browser. I spend most of my productive time in RDP sessions, vSphere, fat client applications, email (Outlook for our org.), and I spend only the time that is needed to google what I need to and to interract in SharePoint.

        At home, okay I use it more, but still I do quite a lot with traditional software apps.
        Raid6
      • RE: Mac vs. PC: Does it matter, since the browser is everything?

        @zwhittaker
        The fact that you use Chrome as a browser and probably GMail for your mail already excludes you as a basis for example. If you want to live your life integrated into the Google spynet, then the OS you use is unimportant.

        Otherwise, you are quite right that we are moving to the point where the OS is irrelevant. This should move Linux up the scale of utilisation as well. For the moment, there are sufficient differences between the OS's to suit various preferences.

        I use Win XP, Win 7, OS X.6, OS X.7, and Ubuntu 11.04 for different reasons. But, when I have a choice, for the moment, I would fall back to one of the Mac OS's. It just provides me with the smoothest user experience. But, you are right, Win 7 is the most Mac-like Windows yet. And Linux is getting ever closer.
        jorjitop
      • RE: Mac vs. PC: Does it matter, since the browser is everything?

        @zwhittaker Spend most of our time doing what?
        jgm2
      • RE: Mac vs. PC: Does it matter, since the browser is everything?

        @zwhittaker

        Nice article but this would be truly true if this is posted after a decade where everything is on Cloud ..{{inside browser}} then companies will try to build a complex browser dependent OS s
        Any way Nice article ... Sam http://geekwindow.com
        TechExpert21
      • RE: Mac vs. PC: Does it matter, since the browser is everything?

        @zwhittaker
        It's true that not everyone can work via a web browser, but MOST people can. In an age of reducing costs, this point matters. Most of my employer's users can function just fine with Google Apps (which is a hell of a lot cheaper and more user-friendly than Lotus Notes), and the few that need access to legacy, custom, or desktop-only applications can use them via Citrix Receiver on most OSs and devices that currently exist.

        Vendor lock-in is still here, but it's moving to the cloud/service level, rather than sitting at the client level. In a few years, thin client functionality will probably be all that most people need, and power-beast PCs will be limited to developers and gamers. Even then, lots of cloud dev environments are starting to pop up. We're headed back to the mainframe mentality.

        BTW, applications are written for the Chrome browser, not Chrome OS, so they can run on any OS that can run Chrome (including a some new televisions and DVRs): https://chrome.google.com/webstore?hl=en-US
        Bit-Smacker
    • RE: Mac vs. PC: Does it matter, since the browser is everything?

      @Scrabbler
      I could not agree more. Although I spend some time browsing, most of my work is not done in the browser. Whoever is producing these fluff pieces is not doing any serious productive work beyond writing a few columns, apparently.
      ADRz
      • RE: Mac vs. PC: Does it matter, since the browser is everything?

        After I upgraded to a Gaming Rig... I never sleep anymore. I just play RPGs. :) I only use the browser for news for an hour, search for cheat codes and walkthroughs etc then gaming all the way...
        TheFilipinoFlash
  • RE: Mac vs. PC: Does it matter, since the browser is everything?

    There are many more things that Mac and PCs do to differentiate; Word Processing, Spreadsheets, Programming, Content creation, Games, etc.. I think most of the people who are browser-centric will go to a tablet, while most of the people who do one of the above will stick with Mac or PC...
    hjenkins1
    • RE: Mac vs. PC: Does it matter, since the browser is everything?

      And when they switch to a tablet, they are in for a surprise.
      There are 400000 apps and browser sucks.
      Scrabbler
      • RE: Mac vs. PC: Does it matter, since the browser is everything?

        @Scrabbler :-)
        jgm2
      • RE: Mac vs. PC: Does it matter, since the browser is everything?

        @Scrabbler [b]+1[/b]
        rhonin
    • RE: Mac vs. PC: Does it matter, since the browser is everything?

      @hjenkins1 <br>The ratio of content consumers vs content creators is 10:1 so there are a lot more people who would gravitate towards the tablet...
      prof123
      • RE: Mac vs. PC: Does it matter, since the browser is everything?

        @prof123 - true, but the LCD factor means everybody will be shoehorned into one lump group. Especially if the Terms of Service (TOS) make it more profitable for "The Company" to do so. And right now, customers are being herded into neat LCD "mass market" groups, companies sit back and rake it in, and the developers/content creators are stuck in the middle.
        HypnoToad72
    • RE: Mac vs. PC: Does it matter, since the browser is everything?

      @hjenkins1
      Google Docs works well for spreadsheets. That said, I originally made those I use often in Excel. But for a quick look, it is easiest to click on Docs and it is right there, on both computers via the Google Cloud.
      mytake4this
      • RE: Mac vs. PC: Does it matter, since the browser is everything?

        @mytake4this
        Only for less complex smaller sheets.
        If you do anything other than that you have only one choice: Excel
        rhonin