ITbuilder was recently accepted into the Apple Consultants Network which recognises that the company is 'staffed with professionals who hold the latest Apple certifications' and is 'fluent in multi-platform solutions, and deliver on-site technology services and support for Apple products'. This led us to have a think about the old rivalry that has had its fair share of twists and turns over the past few decades.

It’s an age-old argument. Are you Mac or PC? Some Mac users claim that PCs are inefficient and slow and some PC users claim that Macs aren’t suitable because they’re not practical for the rigours of everyday use, so who’s right?

The general consensus is that we are all one or the other but in reality, all modern computers share a common descendant. Unix-based operating systems have been around in one form or another since the 1970s and in 1991, Finnish-American software engineer Linus Torvalds built Linux, an open-source Unix kernel that runs on Intel computer architecture, the processors that run the vast majority of the world’s PCs. Windows has a lineage back to Unix since its Windows NT incarnation (the lead developer was the creator of DEC's VMS for any aged techno-geeks reading this) that is the great-great-great-great granddaddy of Windows 8.

In the meantime, the Mac OS is simply a Unix kernel with a highly polished interface, so Mac users who consider themselves apart from PC users, that Macs are in some way completely different and, as a result, superior to PCs, are, in reality using fundamentally the same thing.

One of the main differentiators is that PCs come in hundreds of different guises from a whole host of manufacturers and Apple has developed into a single, world-class brand, but it wasn’t always like that.

 The first successful personal computer featuring a mouse and a graphical user interface (GUI) was the Apple Macintosh, launched in January 1984 and in November 1985 Microsoft introduced Windows in response to the growing interest in GUIs.

 The Apple Mac sold well throughout the second half of the 1980s until sales started to decline in the 1990s when the market shifted to the IBM PC that was running the Microsoft operating system. Microsoft capitalised on Apple’s decline and very quickly took over the world’s PC market leaving the Mac OS in its wake. In 2009, it was reported that Microsoft had over 90% of the OS market share.

This phenomenal share of the market was due to Microsoft’s business model of licensing their OS to hardware manufacturers and by striking deals with IBM and Intel while Apple designed personal computers in their entirety – a move that led to their 1990s downfall. Copies of Windows exploded onto the market as the hardware manufacturers licensed the software and built systems and peripherals to run it.

However, one negative aspect of Microsoft’s near-monopoly was that their OS was considered to be inferior in terms of stability compared to Apple who designed everything bespoke so it was guaranteed to work perfectly.

ITbuilder Managing Director James Naylor says ‘whilst the operating system on an Apple computer shares common parentage with its modern day rivals (Windows, Linux, Android etc) , it did once have its own hardware architecture based on processors used in high-end workstation and server computers. In 2005, Apple started building their computers on similar hardware to your average Windows computer. Now, they are so alike that you can run a copy of Windows on a Mac laptop or desktop’.

Into the 2000s, Apple has seen a massive resurgence in the market. Inspirational creativity, branding and innovation, inspired by the Jonathan Ive-designed MacBook Pro, iMac, MacBook Air, iPod, iPhone and most recently the iPad have catapulted Apple’s products into the ‘must have’ category. In addition, the value of Apple’s add-ons like iTunes has seen Apple grow into the biggest cash-rich company in the world. They embraced the mobile market early and extremely successfully and Windows Mobile couldn’t compete.

As we’ve said, the general consensus is that consumers must pray at the altar of one or another but as an agnostic company, we reject this notion that you should belong to one camp or another.

We don’t take sides. Each system has its merits (and drawbacks) and it’s up to us as your IT experts to make you understand which particular route would be best for you and your business, and then to be in a position to ensure that you have the most robust system to fulfil your requirements.