An organisation who design computers and operating systems (Mac OS and Mac OS X). Despite the fact that their operating systems, computers and other software are far easier to use, more stable, more attractive and generally better than Windows equivalents, an unfortunate combination of Microsoft's monopolisation of the market, ineffective promotion and slight overpricing have resulted in Apple's partial obscurity in the computer market. Only professionals, who tend to appreciate Apple Macintoshes' superior capabilities more than the general public, now tend to use them, particularly in graphical industries, as Apple has always excelled in such areas.
Much debate (or, more accurately, flame warring) has arisen over whether Apples or PCs are better. Ignoring the unfortunate fact that Windows currently dominate the market to a ridiculous extent and thus Apple has slight compatibility problems with some products and a slight disadvantage on the third-party software development front, there are few arguments against Apple. One is that Apple computers are less customisable than PCs, which is true to the extent that the vast majority of upgrades that must be bought for Windows machines are integrated as standard in Apple Macintosh computers. Apple's iMac range are therefore fairly limited in terms of upgrade capacity, but mainly because upgrades are rarely necessary. The tower computer range, however, are arguably notably easier to upgrade than most PCs, although the range of upgrades is smaller for the same reasons.
Other arguments against Apple are rather worse-founded, such as comments that Macintosh computers are 'made for idiots who don't know how to use computers' and other similar comments. The fact that the majority of Apple computers are used by professionals - and indeed, a large proportion of professionals use Apple computers - is obviously not taken into account. Personally, I would say that ease of use and not having to fight constantly against the possibility of crashes is an upside, not a downside. Claims that Macintosh OSes are far less customisable than Windows are vastly overstated - almost every customisation that any person would normally wish to use is easily accessible, and many more are fairly easily accessible to those with the technical know-how to want to use them. Complaints regarding compatibility are partially unavoidable because of Windows' market dominance, and largely overstated. Microsoft Office, contrary to many people's main argument against Apple, is available for all Mac operating systems, and the Mac OS X version's interface is arguably better than the Windows version in numerous ways, simply because it is designed to OS X conventions rather than Windows conventions. It is certainly true that Apple is infinitely more flexible and compatible with other systems than Windows has ever been.
Apple also provide a suite of applications with the operating system that is superior to anything Windows provide as standard (or, in many cases, that are available for Windows at all). Compare Windows' general range - the poor Office substitute Microsoft Works (an oxymoron in many people's minds), simple text editor Notepad, Windows Media Player, every web designer's nightmare Internet Explorer, and the like - with Apple's standard range, including the slick DVD Player, simple yet incredibly effective browser Safari, and of course the brilliant iLife suite, which includes incredibly powerful image-managing tool iPhoto, the wonderfully intuitive yet effective duo of iMovie and iDVD, utterly-superior-to-Cubase digital music mixing tool GarageBand, AIM and local network-integrated messenger and videoconferencing tool iChat AV, and of course iTunes, the music player that Apple have now also marketed incredibly successfully on Windows as well, that is, incredibly, unmatched by anything available on Windows. The Windows alternative of choice is the bizarrely clumsy and limited Windows Media Player.
Apple's pristine hardware range is also remarkable, including Airport Extreme for easy wireless networking that was available years before Centrino for Windows, iSight for simple and elegant webcam and videoconferencing functionality, and of course the iPod, widely acknowledged despite its heavy price tag as the best MP3 player money can buy. Coupled with simple facts such as that while Windows bizarrely still needs a driver installing for almost any hardware component, the same devices almost always function on Mac the moment they are connected, it is easy to see why Mac users are so adamant that Apple are superior to Microsoft.
That, and their software actually works.
Apple have released a new operating system again. It's tons better than the last one, and that was much better than Windows XP. When was the last time Windows released a new OS again?
Prices shown in USD.
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