How I miss the old days. In a past life I was the editor of PC Advisor, and I knew where I stood. For everything Windows, and against everything Mac. Of course the world has changed and things these days are much more nuanced. In a world with iPhones, iPads and all the other smartphones and tablets, our reliance on Macs and Windows PCs has reduced. And this makes the differences seem less key.
At the same time as smartphones and tablets have brought variety to the world of personal computing, Macs and Windows PCs have never been more similar. Apple even uses Intel processors. So the battle beetween Windows and Mac is both less important and less clear cut than once it was. But there are significant differences.
And so it was that one morning in December Macworld editor Karen Haslam and I debated the hoary old Mac vs PC issue. Putatively we set out to establish which is best: Mac or Windows PC? But really we just wanted to have a good old natter about the state of the desktop and laptop computer market in 2014. I was taking the part of the Wintel world, defending and promoting Microsoft's products.
Watch the video above for the full debate (if for some reason it isn't working a YouTube embed can be found at the bottom of the page). Below is the gist of my argument as to why Windows PCs and laptops are better than are Macs. I'm right. (See also: Android vs iPhone vs Windows Phone vs BlackBerry - what's the best mobile platform?)
(For the opposite viewpoint, read Macworld UK's piece: why Macs are better than PCs.)
Why Windows PCs and laptops are better than Macs
Why PCs are better than Macs: Devices
Only the Windows world offers true variety.
The simple fact is that Apple produces only five kinds of OS X computer. Two types of laptop, the Mac mini, the iMac all-in-one and the Mac Pro. They are all fine products, and they will satisfy plenty of people's needs. But not by any means all of them.
Missing from that list of Apple products: convertible laptops and tablets, tablets themselves (iPads don't run OS X software), and gaming rigs. You don't get tabletop slabs like the Sony Tap 20. There's no equivalent to the Surface Pro 2 or the Asus Transformer Book T100T.
More importantly, you can't buy a Mac for less than £499 inc VAT, and that's the Mac mini - hardly a workhorse for everyone. By contrast you can pick up a perfectly decent Windows PC or laptop from a big-name maker such as Dell, HP or Lenovo for as little as £350 inc VAT. Less if you are prepared to shop around.
Why PCs are better than Macs: Games
Where do we start? Yes, lots of big name game franchises have ports that work on Mac, and yes since the move to Intel there is no inherent reason for Macs not to run demanding games. You can also access Steam from a Mac, so this is the golden age of Mac gaming. And it sucks.
Face facts, Mac fans: no serious gamer is going to be trapped into Apple's walled garden. There are infinitely more games available for Windows PC, from casual games up to the biggest, baddest games on the planet. And you'll pay for the privilege of playing those relatively few games the Mac supports: you could get a decent Windows gaming rig for the cost of a Mac mini - and with onboard graphics the mini is useless for playing all but the simplest games.
You can game on a Mac, but if you consider yourself a gamer the options in the Windows world are much greater - not least because you can customise a PC to fit a gaming-specific spec. And for every type of gamer the choices offered in the Windows world are greater.
Why PCs are better than Macs: Security
This is where Mac fans get smug. 'There are no viruses in the OS X world', they say. And 'you don't need antivirus on a Mac'. The first statement is palpably untrue, the second is debatable. There is no doubt that you are less likely to be infected by a computer virus if your computer is a Mac. This is partly because OS X - as a UNIX-based system - is compartmentalised in such a way that it is harder to infect than a Windows PC. And it is also true that fewer criminals attempt to hack Macs because there is a smaller user base and it is harder to do. Criminals don't become criminals because they have a great work ethic.
But Macs are not inherently secure. They do get malware, and that is likely to become a bigger deal as Mac market share grows. Moreover the vector of attack these days tends to be social rather than technical. You are more likely to be phished for bank details, or persuaded to click a dodgy link on Facebook, than you are to hit by a driveby malware exploit. (This is one reason why security software companies are desperately trying to get people to install pointless AV on smartphones.)
Windows is very far from perfect. It is inherently insecure. But at least Windows users know that. The herd immunity is far from perfect, but as a percentage Windows users are more likely than their Mac brethren to run security software. Windows 8 comes with antivirus baked in. It is, as Kylie once sang, better the devil you know. All internet use exposes you to threat: at least Windows users know they cannot be complacent.
Why PCs are better than Macs: Value
We have covered this before, but let me say it again: the cheapest Mac is the basic no thrills Mac mini. It has integrated graphics and limited storage. And without a keyboard or display it costs five hundred quid.
Most Macs are actually decent value, but they are not cheap. And they cater to a wealthy, high-end clientele. If you want a true value computer you need to look to the Windows world. You can pick up a decent family or office PC or laptop for £350 or even less. And that's value.
Why PCs are better than Macs: Software
And finally - software support. Windows software is like Windows games, and the same is true on the Mac side. There are plenty of programs to run on your OS X Mac. And most major programs have Mac versions. But that's most, and not all. And they are often ports of software originally developed for Windows.
The most popular productivity suite for Mac? Microsoft Office. It's good, but it's never quite up to date with the Windows version (as you might expect).
The Windows world is a feast of free- and shareware, free downloads that do just about anything. On the Mac side you have to change the settings to install anything that isn't approved by Apple itself. It means the software all works well, but the choice is limited.
Why PCs are better than Macs: The verdict
That's as good a place as any to stop: go for a Mac if you have money to burn, aren't a serious gamer, and value a controlled experience over freedom of choice. Go for Windows for variety, value and the option to customise. Basically, get a Windows PC. (See also: iPhone 5c vs Nokia Lumia 520 comparison review: which colourful smartphone is better?)