I've been a mac user for 19 years now, and have heard (probably) all the arguments for and against each platform. Here's my take on some of them.
The mac is easier to learn.
Used to be so true, that it kept many power users away, because they considered macs to be "toys". Todays mac can do much more than the macs of OS 6 and 7. A steeper learning curve is part of the price. At the same time PC's have learned a few things from Apple, and figured out a few things on their own, making them easier to learn and run. The gap is closer, but PC's are not there yet. Mac's are more consistant throughout the OS, and from application to application. If you learn one app., that knowledge will give you most of the basics of every other app. including the Finder. All common commands and menus will be found in the same places, and work the same way.
Macs are more stable.
More true now than ever. Back in OS 7 mac people were shouting this from the rooftops,... and lying through their teeth. Crashes were common, and even if the OS held you had to reboot when an app. crashed or froze, due to unprotected memory. Having said that, most of the unstable macs I ran across back then were suffering from owners installing silly amounts of OS hacks to do things like change the cursor, the colors, the way it booted, etc. It gave meaning to the term "personal computer" and many owners would defend the Christmas lights on their desktop, or the eyes that always followed their cursor, even if it did crash more often.
At this moment I have 3 powerbooks and an i-mac in my house, running OS 10.3.8, networked with Airport wireless, all up and running. It has been over a month since any of them was rebooted, and that was for a software install that required it, not a crash. All of these computers are used every day, and the i-mac (DV500 grey) never sleeps, as it serves i-tunes to the other computers, movies to my TV, does most of the e-mail and i-chat. Macs are more stable.
Macs are faster... PC's are faster...
All true. Macs are faster... at some things. with some software. AND PC's are faster... at some things. with some software.
If you only use your computer for one thing, take a hard look at these issues. most people I know use their computers for 50 different things, making a speed comparison out of the question. Most modern computers are fast enough for the average consumer's e-mail, surfing, book-keeping, photographs, music, DVDs etc. If you use your computer for rendering video, creating 3-D models, or serving websites, etc. you already know enough to figure out which one is faster for your purpose.
The one exception that comes to mind is games. I'm not a big game player, but those who are demand graphics speed that will tax any consumer system, so they add graphics cards and memory to make things look and work better. I am told that PCs win on this point hands down, because there are more, better, faster graphics cards made for the PC. Any Gamers want to tell me I'm right, wrong, or something else, feel free. Like I said, I'm not much of a game player.
There is more software for PCs
Go to any Fry's or Best Buy, and you will see how obvious this is. There are at least 10 times more titles for the PC. My opinion? So? There are whole isles devoted to word processing software for Windows. There are maybe half a dozen good WP titles for Mac. I have one question. How many word processing programs do you need? Me? I use two. One small and light for quick looks at read-me files and quick notes, and one "full on spellcheck in 30 languages, 5000 font, html, writes a novel in it's spare time, fat app." I can not conceive a reason for more than 3, but then most people consider me a bit slow. Another point about the PC isle, is that some of the titles only work with NT. Others only work with 95-98-whatever. That thins it out a bit.
There are good apps for the mac to cover just about anything you want to do. If there is an app. that is only PC, and you must have it, the mac solution is Virtual PC. It will run Windows 95,98,NT, and I guess, others on your mac. It works by creating a "shell" for the software to run in, the same way "Classic" works in OSX.
The often overlooked side of the coin is apps that you can only get for the Mac platform, like i-Movie, Garage Band, and i-DVD. Add the fact that they come free with the computer (along with i-Tunes, i-Photo, Appleworks, Quicken etc. and the size of the software isle becomes less important.
Note. Games are the exception here also. you do not want to play PC games on Virtual PC. Ever. You want to play them on a PC with a fast graphics card.
Mac's don't get viruses and spy-ware.
Not entirely true. but close. About a year ago I installed Norton anti-virus, and ran it on my laptop to see what it found. I got big eyed when I read it's report. over 600 viruses, trojan horses, and pieces of spy-ware were on my internal drive. A closer inspection showed that they were 99% in my junk mail folders. It sounds like a lot, but I run a couple of websites, and get about a thousand bits of junk mail a week. A detailed look at what viruses they were exactly (there were about 6 different flavors), found them all to be harmless to the Mac, unable to run in OSX. If I had that situation on a PC, it would be dead from trying to get a clock tick in and failing. I just emptied my junk, and trash. problem solved. NOTE: That doesn't mean I couldn't infect someone's PC if I sent an infected e-mail to them.
There are viruses, hacks, and spy-ware, that DO run on OSX. Not very many, but I have seen, for example, spy-ware that was cross platform.
Call it Luck, Karma, or the Lord looking out for fools, but the bottom line is, PC's are targeted, hit and hurt by these attacks on a daily basis. Macs are not.
I know 7 people who have crossed to apple from windows, and all of them are happy for the change. I know one person who gave up on macs for windows. It was 1987, and he wanted to use Auto-Cad. He is still on PC's, still thinks Macs are toys, and is happy with his decision.
When any novice computer buyer asks me which to buy, I ask what all of their friends-family have, and usually suggest the same thing. My reasoning is that no matter what system or OS you have, there are times when it will stump you, confuse you, or break on you. It's 12:26 AM, and you only know one person who will answer your call that late, for a question (or 300) about computers. What does he use? If it's the same as yours, you might just get your work done by morning. If not? Customer service opens at 9:00AM, a half hour after you should be at work. Mac or PC you are going to have questions, and need guidance every once in a while. Friends and family support is usually 24-7.
As to cost. Mac's are more expensive, up front. Two weeks after the computer purchase, when you've added to your PC all the things that come standard on the mac, it's about even. A year down the road, people who have switched say the mac has saved you time. Lots of it. It's not just the time saved with spyware, viruses, windows updates, and hackers, even though that is what you hear most.
The hardware, the OS, and much of the software I use are all designed and built by the same company, to work together. Apple is very good at it, and it really does make a difference in the day to day world of getting things done.
Other people will say different, and they are welcome to tell me where I'm wrong, but my answer is...