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MS Windows vs mac OS: What Are the Differences?

Much like the smartphone industry that is split between Android and iOS, the computers arena is divided between the two giants – Microsoft & Apple.

While Microsoft crafted Windows long ago when the first release was made on 20 November 1985, Apple first launched its proprietary operating system, macOS, on 24 March 2001.   

When it comes to macOS and Windows computers, there’s a thin line that differentiates them in terms of usability, features, functionality, appearance, and other aspects. The article establishes the comparisons between Apple computers that run over macOS and Windows-based computers.

The operating system and the hardware make the core points of difference between Windows and macOS. Taking advantage of the technology advancements, both the operating systems have reached congruence, and hence, it is difficult to say which one is better than the other. 

So, let’s discuss the two operating systems in detail in the upcoming section. 


It is the graphical user interface and software operating system that became significantly popular among home and business users. The aim behind the development of the Windows operating system is to target the two parallel audience groups that include the home users and the professionals, and it has very much achieved its aim.

Similar to other digital devices, Windows computers also turn sluggish, and you see the blue spinning wheel frequently every time you click an app icon or try to view a file. This is frustrating. However, Windows computers are easy to troubleshoot, and all you need is a little knowledge about the common workaround steps. 


It is a powerful operating system that powers Apple computers to work productively. macOS is designed keeping in mind the hardware specifications, so it runs flawlessly on MacBooks and Apple desktops. It integrates a suite of excellently engineered apps and works seamlessly with iCloud to keep documents, images, and other stuff.  

macOS devices, be it a desktop or a MacBook, display performance issues similar to that of Windows or Linux computers. In this case, you see a colorful spinning wheel that takes time to disappear, sometimes more than usual, based on the intensity of the problem responsible for the slowdowns. As long as the problem is software-related, you can fix it easily. 

Major Differences Between Windows vs mac OS


Windows operating system is universally acclaimed, while the macOS is supported on Apple computers only. The former’s performance depends on the hardware specification of the device it is running on, while the latter has a high degree of control over how it performs on an Apple-based computer. 


If we talk about macOS and Mac computers, both the hardware and software are developed by Apple. Both the components work hand-in-hand to deliver the best user experience. Windows is developed by Microsoft but supported over a wide variety of computers, as mentioned in the below sub-section. 


Macs (both laptops and desktops) are developed and distributed by Apple only. PCs (symbolic to Windows computers), on the other hand, are designed by a number of manufacturers. Some of the giant producers of Windows computers are HP (Hewlett Packard), Dell, Lenovo, Acer, Asus, Samsung, to name a few. 


Windows is time and again criticized for the limited features it offers, while macOS is praised for providing a great deal to its users. Windows is less responsive to multitasking capabilities, whereas macOS boasts ease of use even when multiple heavy-load apps are running simultaneously. 


In Windows computers, the operating system, apps, or hardware components are designed by different providers, which sometimes leads to incompatibility and causes performance lags to a great extent. However, Apple is in full control of its hardware, software, and applications; therefore, users experience fewer performance issues. 


This is more about SSDs vs. HDDs. Most latest Mac computers come integrated with SSD (solid-state drives) that are faster, versatile, and fail-proof unless damaged severely. Some Windows computers are still powered with HDDs (hard disk drives) that are responsive but turn slow over time and are comparatively more susceptible to failures than SSDs. 


macOS comes with a classy design with more sophisticated devices that includes soft edges that give a sharp appearance. The attractive design of the Apple devices makes them popular among users despite hefty pricing. Windows computers are comparatively bulky if a high-level comparison has to be made, while you can easily get captivating devices on the high-end side.  


Both the operating systems are compatible with most devices and peripherals out there. Both support Microsoft Office, connect flawlessly with PC networks, connect to the latest printers, and to your surprise – run Windows. Yes, you cannot only run Windows on Windows-compatible computers but on Macs too. 


Windows supports a directory structure for storing varied file formats of different users. With cabinet drawers and logical drives, it also includes folders, namely Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos, and more. On the other hand, macOS includes multiple directories. To explore the directory structure and file system, navigate to /Developer, /Application, /temp, /bin, and so on. 


Windows registry is referred to as a master database that the operating system uses to store various system settings. The registry editor enables you to access the keys and values or the drivers. macOS stores application settings in an array of .plist files that have different preferences folders. The respective folder saves properties in binary format or plain text. 


One of the noticeable differences between Windows and macOS rests in their interface. While the macOS is known to have an intuitive, simple, and streamlined user interface, Windows encapsulates better usability features, is easy to learn, and allows for extensive customization. The interface in macOS remains consistent across apps, whereas Windows UI changes per application. 


If you have ever used macOS in your office or a library, you must have been impressed with the Dock, the bar that allows quick access to the most used apps and frequently viewed files. On the contrary, macOS comes with a Start menu and a taskbar that takes you to the apps and files stored within the computer and almost anywhere you want to be on the device. 


Speaking about getting to the hard drive, it’s easy in both the operating systems. In Windows, launch the File Explorer to navigate through different drives. In macOS, you get Finder to get to various locations on the computer. You can also access files stored across Apple devices from the Finder window. 

Voice Assistant:

Windows voice assistant, Cortana, sways you through the computer, answering your queries, or setting reminders while offering multiple usability features. Apple’s voice assistant, Siri, is there to assist you across devices such as iPhone, iPad, and macOS with almost the same set of features; they are limited, though. 


The short and precise comparison, when it comes to security, is that Windows computers are more vulnerable to viruses or malware in comparison to macOS-powered computers. The reason is that Windows has a larger user base and hence a more revenue-generating target for cybercrime.


Due to a wide variety of options from different manufacturers, Windows computers are considered robust and appropriate for gaming. You can play resource-consuming and high-end games on Windows devices. Macs, on the other hand, come with rigid hardware specifications that make them not-so-ideal for gaming. 


Despite multiple disparities between the two operating system giants, both are popular among their respective audiences. While one offers an intuitive interface, another one gives you access to more features. 

One has fewer application options yet a better user experience; the other one will give you affordable options in all app domains. At the end of the day, the operating system you choose depends primarily on your choice and budget.

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