Mac vs Windows: The Great Debate 2020


There is perhaps no greater debate than Mac versus Windows. While Windows is ahead by 14 users to every one Mac user, Mac enthusiasts are a very dedicated bunch.

Microsoft, the creator of Windows was founded in 1975, and Apple was launched just a year later in 1976, and the competition has lived on ever since. While it's true that Microsoft and Apple have operated very different strategies, they have been engaged in cut-throat competition for decades.

As Microsoft outsources its operating system to several PC manufacturing companies, it is not possible to compare each and every model to Apple’s Mac. For this article, we decided to compare two of the flagships produced by Microsoft and Apple.

From Microsoft’s side, we have the Surface Book 3, and from Apple’s side, we have the good old MacBook Pro 16-inch, the machine we all love so much. For us, it wasn't an easy blog to write because of how complex both these systems are, but we've still tried to make a fair comparison between the two. So, let's get into the details and see which system prevails.

Design

Apple's designs look good. It always has and always will, and it's one of the key reasons why Macs are so popular. If you want to look good, you get a Mac. Macs can be like a status badge. And while some people will likely deny this, there is ample evidence that Apple products are indeed a status symbol.

If you're a photographer, videographer, designer, manager, or even if you're a student; if you own a MacBook Pro, that makes a statement. That statement is that you are ahead of the competition and ahead of the game. Just like the device, the macOS too looks super clean, crisp, and professional too.

Meanwhile, Windows and PC manufacturers have never really focused on design. Windows has been a very functionality centered operating system and and just like the operating system, the manufacturers have never really put substantial amounts of thought into creating visually appealing PC designs. Sure, Microsoft itself has recently been trying to step up its game with its Surface Book 3 and it remains to be seen how they will evolve in the long-term. Meanwhile, Apple has been in the clean design game for a very long time now.

There is no doubt that Apple dominates the creative market. From architects to visual design artists, to content writers, everyone prefers a MacBook because of how good it looks, and how simple and usable the OS feels. It's a wonder how Microsoft and Windows have ignored the fact for this long.

Our verdict on the design of the machines and the operating system goes in favor of MacBook Pro. It wins by a considerable margin here because the Surface Book 3 is nowhere even near to what Mac has achieved.

MacBook Pro: 5
Surface Book: 3

Ecosystem

"Ecosystem" is a word that we've been hearing for a very long time now, and usually, it's associated with Apple. One reason why Apple is so good at what it does is that it integrates all its devices perfectly with one another.

So, if you are a MacBook Pro user and you want to transfer pictures to your phone, you don't have to get a wired connection to your PC and then transfer them manually. With Apple’s integrated ecosystem, you can just quickly AirDrop your photos from your MacBook to your iPhone in an instant. If you have a set of AirPods, connecting them to your MacBook is almost no work. If you have an Apple Watch, you can connect that to your Mac, and it too will be integrated perfectly. This ecosystem makes the MacBook Pro experience so wonderful.

Moving on to Windows, there is essentially no ecosystem at all. Because of the distributed manufacturing companies and their different hardware, it's a tough ask to even pair two different Windows machines. Connecting your headphones to Surface Book 3 is not even close to how easy it is to pair your AirPods to your MacBook Pro. If you want to transfer your pictures from your Surface Book to your phone, you will definitely need wires to do that.

So, again, this is where again MacBook beats the Surface Book by a huge margin.

MacBook Pro: 5
Surface Book 3: 2

Siri vs. Cortana

We're not even entirely sure why we are talking about Siri versus Cortana in the first place, even when the winner is so evident. Siri has been around forever. First introduced in the iPhone, it quickly made its way to the Mac operating system. Siri’s AI has been trained and developed for more than a decade to create a nearly perfect artificial intelligence assistant. There is virtually no setup time when it comes to Siri. It doesn't simply recognize you, but, with continued use, becomes more personalized and better understands what you need with its efficient AI. Siri's voice recognition is flawless and its ability to understand context is mind-blowing. If you're on a MacBook Pro, you can do anything from setting alarms to sending payments, making phone calls, or controlling your home devices. You can do it all.

Looking at the Surface Book 3, which comes with Cortana installed, most people might prefer it not being installed at all! The setup time is excruciatingly long, the voice recognition sucks. 6 out of 10 times, Cortana will not be able to understand your speech. When it comes to features, Cortana is again very limited in what it can do. The versatility you expect when buying a Surface Book goes down the drain as you try and work with the block of an AI assistant that is Cortana.

This is where the macOS and the MacBook Pro win again.

MacBook Pro: 5
Surface Book 3: 1

Software Compatibility

Software compatibility is somewhere the Surface Book 3, with Windows, might have an edge on the MacBook Pro. While it's true that almost all software developers now develop for both macOS and Windows, in terms of sheer numbers, the library of software available for the Surface Book, is substantially greater than the software available for MacBook Pros.

While this isn't really an issue because almost all the major applications still run on the macOS, still, in terms of numbers, Windows is ahead. The verdict for this round goes to Surface Book 3 because even though you might never use that extensive of an application library, it's still nice to have it available for your disposal.

MacBook Pro: 1
Surface Book 3: 5

Gaming

Gaming is where The MacBook Pro lags far behind. Mac machines were never really built for gaming and have always been designed for creative use. Even though you have game streaming services such as Steam available on the MacBook, the gaming platform itself claims that 99% of its users are Windows-based.

For gamers, Windows is an ideal machine. It offers a lot of customization, as well as a lot of control. Surface Book 3 has one of the best gaming benchmarks for a flagship laptop.

It is not really an issue because most Mac users do not buy a MacBook Pro intending to play games on it. However, we still will have to award the points to the Surface Book 3 for its edge in the gaming niche.

MacBook Pro: 1
Surface Book 3: 5

Security

In terms of security, Apple doesn't compromise. With every update on the MacBook, Apple does an excellent job of provided the best protection it can for its users. The MacBook Pro utilizes a T2 security chip to provide the utmost security and privacy.

The Surface Book 3, because it has the Windows operating system, has a multitude of loopholes through which cybercriminals can manage to break in. Data theft from personal computers operating on the Windows system is rather common and security patches are frequently required to be downloaded and installed.

Logging In

The login system on MacBook Pros is straightforward - there is a dedicated fingerprint reader right next to the Touch Bar. In order to login, all you need to do is place your finger on that reader, and you will be logged in instantly. Deceiving this fingerprint reader is almost impossible, although there has been sporadic reports of spoofing.

On Microsoft Surface Book 3 there is the Windows Hello feature, which relies on a facial scanner. While the facial scanner does sound a lot more secure than a fingerprint reader on the face of it, there is a big trade off in terms of speed. Surface Book 3's login procedure is prolonged. It gets worse if you are in a poorly lit environment too. If you prefer not to use the Windows Hello feature, you can go with either a pin or password.

Payments

Apple has made payments effortless with the integration of Apple Pay on its MacBook Pro. To send funds or to buy something online, all you do is add your payment method to your Apple Pay account. Then, when you're browsing that favorite pair of shoes online, all you need to do is place your finger on the fingerprint reader and Apple does the rest.

No payment method really exists for the Surface Book 3 or in Windows in general. This means that every time you want to buy something online, you need to enter your card details.

So when it comes to security, login, and payment, the MacBook Pro is an easy winner.

MacBook Pro: 4
Surface Book 3: 2

Vulnerability

Viruses are synonymous with Windows, and this is also the case with the Surface Book 3. When browsing the web on a Windows machine, such as the Surface Book 3, you have to be extremely careful not to click the wrong pop-up or hit the wrong button - this can otherwise lead you to installing malware, a virus, adware, or spyware without even realizing it. That not only affects the functionality of your device but also puts your data at risk.

With the MacBook Pro, it's nearly impossible to install a virus on your machine (although, to be clear, it does happen!). Apple's T2 security chip and macOS ensures that you are generally protected at all times, and viruses and the like are not something that you need to worry about nearly as much on your MacBook.

So this round goes to the MacBook Pro again.

MacBook Pro: 4
Surface Book 3: 2

Customization

You can easily install new SSDs, more RAM, and even new motherboards into most Windows machines. The same ability, to customize your MacBook machine, does not exist.

So, if you buy a MacBook Pro 16 inch with 8GB ram, there is no way you can later upgrade it yourself to 16GB or 32GB. The only way to do that is by taking your machine to an Apple Service Center and hat upgrade will be very expensive compared to what it would have been on a Windows machine. With a Windows device, you can simply buy additional RAM from your local store or an online seller, watch a few tutorials on YouTube, get the right tools, and then customize, update and upgrade your device however you want.

This is where the Surface Book 3 beats the MacBook Pro soundly, because that ability to customize comes in handy often, especially when you’re in creative design and might need a more powerful graphics card or more memory.

This is also why Windows devices outperform the MacBook Pro in gaming as well. With a Windows device, you can connect external keyboards, controllers, graphic cards, more RAM, faster SSDs, and a lot more.

MacBook Pro: 2
Surface Book 3: 5

Price

The price of both the machines is quite similar, coming in at around USD$3,000. We picked similar priced machines in the first place to make sure that the comparison was a fair one.

If you want to get a Mac for a lower price, the MacBook Air starts at $899. That said, you can probably get a Windows Machine for much cheaper, averaging at $1,300 with listings as low as $400. Because Microsoft makes the Windows OS available to other PC manufacturers, the price of Windows machines is significantly lower.

This round goes to Windows.

MacBook Pro: 3
Surface Book 3: 5

Verdict

We hope that you now have a fair idea of which machine - Mac or Windows - you would prefer if you were in the market. Should you get a Mac device if you are in the creative business? Absolutely. Should you get a Mac device if you are a gamer? You might want to rethink that.

In our trial, the MacBook Pro scored 22, and the Surface Book 3 came in at 20. There are pros and cons attached to each of the devices and their operating systems however, so you need to bear those in mind when making your purchasing decision.

Muaz Ashrafi

Hi! I am Muaz, a Mass Communication major. I like to think I am a free urban spirit. I write blogs with a focus on tech and gadgets. When I'm not writing, you can find me with my headphones on, relaxing to some good house EDM music. I'm also a hobbyist photographer, you can find me on Instagram @mzwithacamera.

8 Comments

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  1. Both have their use cases. I switch between them but mostly use the Mac. Windows is great for gaming but Mac is just so nice for web browsing and photo/video editing when I need to. The ecosystem on Apple is definitely better but I only have the Mac so it’s a moot point for me. I like to mix and match what I use anyway, trusting one company with everything is not a good idea.

  2. I like both offerings but almost exclusively use Mac now. The layout and customization options are better on Windows to me but I value security and privacy and the Mac is the clear winner in this regard. I’m sure they still collect some data but on Windows it’s ridiculous. I don’t game much either so I’m not missing out by not using Windows.

  3. For simplicity and ease of use, a Mac is a no-brainer. Windows is annoying these days with breaking updates, ads on the start menu and so on. OS X provides a beautiful desktop with no clutter and an amazing suite of default apps and functionality. Unless you need Windows for something specific, a Mac just does it better.

  4. Mac is the easy winner if you want a machine that just works. OS X is so nice to use and everything just makes sense. I’m sure you could give it to anyone and they wouldn’t have any issues using it. The only downside for me is that there is less software and, of course, gaming. If you have a console then that’s not an issue for you.

  5. I’ve always loved having a MacBook for quick and easy web browsing and document editing, it just works so well. When I’m at home though, I like to use Windows. Not only for gaming but some other programs I use often that I can’t find on the Mac. Both systems have their place in the market, you don’t have to pick just one!

  6. I’ll be buying my son his first computer for his birthday soon, but I’m not sure what the best choice would be. I need it to have strong parental controls and excellent security which I can see Mac is good for. I would expect he’d want to play some games as well. What’s your opinion on a good first computer for a teenage boy?

  7. I’ve been a Windows user all my life and not too long ago I would be saying Windows is obviously the best. Now that I have a MacBook Air I can see what people are talking about. I can’t pinpoint just one thing but it just feels nice to use and I get things done quickly. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Windows or Mac, choose one and make the best of it.

  8. For me, I cannot pick between them. I love the simplicity of Mac OS and the fact that is just works but I also love tinkering around on Windows and the additional software. I’m also a big gamer which forces me to use Windows anyway. My setup is a Windows desktop for gaming and sometimes other stuff and a MacBook Air for when I just want to get things done.