The rate of digital literacy in the United States remains low despite having the computer as an integral part of our daily lives. A new study by the Pew Research Center revealed that only around 40% of American adults exhibit adequate digital literacy, with the rate higher among younger age brackets compared to older ones (Feldman, 2019). The results of the study are not at all surprising, considering the number of people who have no access to computers and related technologies. Indeed, many people are not keenly aware of the more basic details of computers. For instance, many people still do not know what an operating system is or that there are different operating systems to choose from. The lack of awareness, in turn, can cause problems when purchasing and using computers. Two of the most popular operating systems are macOS and Windows. While comparing and contrasting macOS and Windows reveal some similarities and differences between the two, choosing one should be based not on which is better but which one best meets the user’s needs and preferences.
Which operating system is better? macOS or Windows?
In order to understand how macOS and Windows compare to each other, it is important to first understand what an operating system (OS) is. While an operating system is quite a complex topic, comprehending what it is does not require one to learn how to write a definition essay. Suffice to say, an operating system or OS can be defined as software that enables the hardware of a computer to work, run programs, and execute tasks (Tech Terms, 2021). One may imagine the OS as the software that makes the computer do its job. But OS are not confined to computers alone; other devices such as tablets and phones also have operating systems. But for the sake of convenience, this paper limits its discussion to OS in computers. Two of the most widely used OS are Windows and macOS. According to recent estimates, there are around 100 million macOS users around the world as opposed to around 400 million Windows users (Warren, 2017).
One of the main differences between macOS and Windows is the hardware. Windows is developed and produced by Microsoft, but Microsoft does not produce its own line of computers. Instead, Microsoft licenses Windows to companies that produce computers such as Acer, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Samsung among others. On the other hand, macOS is produced by Apple and is exclusive to Apple products such as the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro (SetApp, 2019). In other words, when using Windows the consumer can choose the brand of hardware, whereas the consumer can only purchase macOS by purchasing Apple hardware. The implication of this setup is that while macOS allows for a higher degree of compatibility since the operating system is made specifically for the hardware and vice versa, Windows provides more room for variety in configuration. Consumers who use Windows get to choose the hardware they use, whereas macOS users do not enjoy such flexibility. A consumer who enjoys modifying the features of the computer, therefore, may want to choose Windows over macOS.
Another important difference between the two operating systems is the user interface. The user interface refers to the field where the user directly interacts with the computer. This is typically the screen display, which the user interacts with by manipulating and responding to visual, tactile, and auditory elements as well as utilizing hardware like a keyboard and a mouse among others. As far as usability is concerned, both macOS and Windows are generally user-friendly. The way they are designed to work with the user shows careful study of and intuitive approach towards needs. With that being said, macOS is known for its sleeker, minimalist, and overall more coherent aesthetic design as opposed to Windows. Windows, however, has been gaining ground with regard to aesthetics. Any user shifting from one OS to another may find it a bit difficult to adjust, which is expected when a shift is made after being accustomed to one OS. But any person, beginner or otherwise, will find either operating system excellent in both usability and aesthetics.
With regard to overall performance, both macOS and Windows are reliable. But this similarity in reliability is more complex than just simple point-by-point comparison; rather, their similar degree of reliability is due to their differences in usage. Windows is often regarded as stronger when it comes to tools used for office work like word processors and computational sheets as well as in gaming (Glenn, 2018). On the other hand, macOS is consistently ranked as having the edge when it comes to creative tasks. What this shows is that optimizing the potential of an operating system depends on the purpose it serves for the user.
Finally, another difference between the macOS and Windows is the level of security they offer. It is no secret that computers are prone to cyberattacks. Malware like viruses and spyware can make their way to computers and compromise documents, identities, and finances among others. Between these two operating systems, macOS has the shorter list of vulnerabilities and actual incidents. Tech experts attribute macOS’s better security to the fact that both software and hardware are under Apple, which allows the company to wield greater control over security. On the other hand, Windows is more vulnerable to malware as it interacts with third-party hardware providers (Muchmore, 2020). A user who prefers tight security without exerting too much effort should choose macOS. By contrast, Windows has more vulnerabilities, thus requiring a user to spend more resources on tightening security on his or her own.
The modern computer can be rightfully considered as the one of the greatest inventions in human history. Since its emergence in the mid-20th century, the computer changed virtually every aspect of human life, from the way people learn and communicate to the way businesses and governments operate. The computer’s massive impact has resulted in a movement that perhaps dwarfs every other technological, cultural, and industrial revolution in history. Indeed, the impact the Renaissance had on the western world in the 15th century pales in comparison to what is happening today. The power of the computer, however, ultimately derives from the operating system. While macOS and the Windows are different, these two are among the most popular and can both be used well. The important thing to consider is the purpose it serves the user. The main concern when choosing an operating system, therefore, is knowing what an OS offers and how it meets the needs and preferences of the user.
Feldman, S. (2019). Americans get a failing grade for digital literacy. Statista. https://www.statista.com/chart/19677/digital-literacy-united-states/
Glenn, W. (2018). What’s the difference between Microsoft Office for Windows and macOS? How-to Geek. https://sea.pcmag.com/software/30432/macos-vs-windows-which-os-really-is-the-best
Muchmore, M. (2020). macOs vs. Windows: Which OS really is the best? PC Mag. https://sea.pcmag.com/software/30432/macos-vs-windows-which-os-really-is-the-best
SetApp. (2019). The ultimate Mac vs PC comparison. https://setapp.com/lifestyle/the-ultimate-mac-vs-pc-comparison
Tech Terms. (2021). Operating system. https://techterms.com/definition/operating_system
Warren, T. (2017). Apple reveals Windows 10 is four times more popular than the Mac. The Verge. https://www.theverge.com/2017/4/4/15176766/apple-microsoft-windows-10-vs-mac-users-figures-stats