In this week’s Technologizer column at TIME.com, I take a stab at answering technology’s longest-running question: “PC or Mac?” My answer won’t please everybody–it’s a topic that instantly sends some people into prickly, combative mode–but it’s the only one that makes sense: “It depends on what you’re trying to do, and how much money you have to spend.”
I’ve done similar stories many times before–if I’d been writing about computers in 1984, when the Mac debuted, I’m sure I would have done a “DOS or Mac?” article. It doesn’t feel repetitive, because the game keeps changing. (More on Time.com: Apple’s Hits and Misses So Far)
But something good has been happening lately: The decision has gotten simpler and less risky. Both Windows PCs and Macs are, on some level, primarily boxes that run the Web browsers we do much of our work in–once you’re inside your favorite browser, it doesn’t matter all that much which operating system your computer uses. And a high percentage of peripherals–cameras, printers, and many phones–don’t care whether you connect them to a Windows computer or a Mac.
The world isn’t completely neutral yet: If you’re a gamer or a user of big-business software, for instance, you want to run Windows (which, of course, you can do on a Mac if you choose). Security hassles remain an argument against using Windows and a point in the Mac’s favor. And computer companies still vary wildly–among the biggest arguments in favor of buying a Mac is the ability to walk into an Apple Store and seek troubleshooting help at the Genius Bar. (More on Time.com: 25 Years Of Windows: The Best & Worst Of Microsoft’s OS)
But we’re clearly moving into an era in which you can pick a computer that pleases you without fretting too much about what it can’t do. That might be bad news for folks who want to write PC-vs.-Mac stories, but it’s a great development for both PC types and Mac fans.
And with that out of the way, we can move on to more important questions–such as “iPhone or Android?,” “Canon or Nikon?,” and “Kindle or Nook?”
More on Time.com:
See the ALL-TIME 100 gadgets list
50 Windows Phone 7 Apps to Get You Started