Mac or PC? Pretty Soon, It Won’t Matter

As I write this, Apple and Microsoft are feverishly putting the final touches on their next major OS releases. Apple’s OS X 10.6, better known as Snow Leopard, promises to be an evolutionary improvement over its already well-received 10.5 Leopard.

Microsoft is under a bit more pressure, as the less-than-stellar buzz surrounding Vista has made a successful Windows 7 launch — now slated for quarter four of this year — even more critical to the company’s future. Two and a half years after hitting the market, Vista commands less than half of XP’s market share, an ominous sign that consumers and enterprises alike simply want their computers to work and aren’t overly keen to upgrade.

While the relative success of these two products may matter a whole lot to their respective vendors, the harsh reality is desktop operating systems matter less now to consumers than at any previous point. Ever since the first Macintosh computer burst onto the scene in 1984, Apple and Microsoft have been in a tit-for-tat battle over whose OS is best.

However, it’s a battle that simply doesn’t matter much these days, and one that will become even less relevant to both enterprises and consumers in the years to come. Here’s why:

  • Interoperability: While computers in the ’80s and early ’90s represented the technological equivalent of the Tower of Babel — all speaking different languages and never able to engage in anything approaching a meaningful exchange — platform-agnostic applications, file formats and hardware…

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