Window vs. Mac War Over?

Using computers and information technology (IT) in general comes at a great price. It may consume electricity, human power, or intellectual curiosity. To become good at using something, usually takes many repeat failures and certainly many hours of study and operation.

In the IT space, just two major companies control the worldwide computer desktop: Microsoft with it’s Windows operating system, and second runner up Apple Computer with Mac OS X. Sure, niche players like Sun Microsystems Solaris, Red Hat Linux, or SUSE Linux are available, but are not being distributed on millions of desktops every fiscal quarter. So far there have been at least six releases of Windows counting all the way back from Windows NT, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000, and Windows XP. Microsoft recently announced Windows Vista, to be released sometime in early 2007. All of these operating systems has evolved from the earlier release, and as the adoption rate increased worldwide, so did the various problems.

Apple Computer has released five Mac OS X products: Mac OS X Cheetah, Mac OS X Puma, Mac OS X Jaguar, Mac OS X Panther, and Mac OS X Tiger. Apple recently announced Mac OS X Leopard, to be releases sometime in future, probably in mid 2007. In the early days of desktop computing, there was a rapid one-upping, as each company bundled features, services, and support to hold parity. Prior to Mac OS X, under the Mac OS Classic environment (i.e., Mac OS 8 or Mac OS 9) there was competition, but with the release of Mac OS X, and especially after Mac OS X Jaguar, Apple pulled ahead and had never looked back.

The investment in Mac OS X is paying off now, as very high level support is now included in the operating system for OpenGL, content creation, and visualization unheard of in previous releases.
Apple Computer Mac OS X Development Milestones
Date Event
12/20/1996 | Apple Announced NeXT Deal
09/13/2000 | Mac OS X Beta Available
03/24/2001 | Mac OS X Cheetah 10.0 Available
09/29/2001 | Mac OS X Puma 10.1 Available
08/24/2002 | Mac OS X Jaguar 10.2 Available
10/23/2003 | Mac OS X Panther 10.3 Available
04/28/2005 | Mac OS X Tiger 10.4 Available
Q2/Q3 2007 | Mac OS X Leopard 10.5 Available

With added services also came added security. There is not a single instance of a Mac OS X virus released in the wild to take down Mac machines. On the Windows platform, it’s a regular spectator sport to see how many machine go down on a weekly basis due to spyware, malware, and computer viruses.

Operating system viruses and spyware cripple machines on the Windows side consistently. Antivirus and antispyware tools are not just available, but essential subscription based software to get the machines up and running on a daily basis. In a hypothetical scenario (actual hardware prices are today very competitively priced when performance is compared, i.e., oranges to oranges), if a company saves 10% to 20% on the initial purchase of commodity x86 hardware (or AMD), capable of running Microsoft Windows software, and in the course of the machines life gets hit not by one virus, but by multiple viruses, how much money was actually saved? It may be that the liabilities associated with the commodity hardware and a ubiquitous operating system like Windows actually cost 50% more than a Apple Power Mac G5 or iMac G5 networked system, when the cost of virus software, added security programs, salaries of MCSE technicians and engineers, and the regular system corruptions due to hackers and virus authors are taken into account.