In 1981, when Microsoft provided the operating system for the original IBM Personal Computer (PC), it retained the right to sell that operating system to other computer manufacturers. Thus was born the PC clone market. Many manufacturers entered the market and by the mid-1980s, inexpensive PC clones dominated the hardware side of the market. Microsoft dominated the software side. That basic fact—that Microsoft is a software company and Apple is a hardware company—accounts for the basic differences between PCs and Macs.
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said, “Apple strives for the integrated model so that the user isn’t forced to be the systems integrator.” This meant Apple designed its computers from the ground up to adhere to certain standards and to operate the computer a certain way. As a result, Apple hardware is better built and more attractive than PC hardware, but is generally more expensive.
Because it provided its own software (both the MacOS operating system and basic applications), tailored to its hardware, Apple could provide a more stable system. PCs running Windows had to live in the world of device drivers to provide the interface between the Windows operating system and the myriad of different hardware configurations that the PC manufacturers produced. As a result, Macs do not crash as frequently as Windows PCs. Also as a result, however, PCs evolve more rapidly because of the competition among all those hardware manufacturers. A prime example is gaming. Windows PCs dominate the gaming market because of quick development and deployment of improved video adapters.
Because Steve Jobs believed he knew what users needed, Apple computers usually give you one way to perform a given action. Windows, on the other hand, gives you multiple ways. A Windows PC is highly customizable, a Mac not so much. Customization is a two-edged sword. As a result of all the options, Windows is more difficult to learn than macOS. However, if the Mac’s way does not seem intuitive to you—although Apple does a good job of making most basic actions intuitive—you have fewer options to change it.