Technology is full of feuds. We've rounded-up the 10 biggest and best battles of the industry. So read on to find out who are the biggest winners and losers in history.

When it comes to technology, there's been some classic feuds: from Microsoft vs Google and Mac vs PC to the recent Blu-ray vs HD-DVD battle. And while Blu-Ray emerged triumphant, not all battles end with an out-and-out winner. We've picked out the 14 biggest tech battle and charted their history as well as identifying who, if anyone came out top.

Mac vs PC

What's so great about a Mac?

Apple products are the computing equivalent of gourmet sausage: We don't want to know what's inside these beautiful, expensive computers or what's going on beneath the surface of the sleek Mac OS X.

When it works, it works magically. When it doesn't work, we go to yoga class and wait for the next update. Oh, okay. Not only do the current Macintosh computers come equipped with some of the fastest, best-designed hardware available anywhere, but they also carry a stable, powerful, easy-to-use operating system that so far seems to be fairly immune to the security flaws and threats that menace Windows users.

Top software developers including Adobe and even Microsoft continue to develop products for the Macintosh, making Macs competitive with Windows PCs in the workplace. A few key business applications (AutoCAD, for example) still require Windows but fortunately, Macs also run Windows quite nicely. Apple's proprietary hardware is expensive compared to PC hardware, but third-party systems running OS X may soon become a reality. And isn't that Mac guy in the 'Get a Mac' Apple commercials hip?

What's so great about a PC?

More than a computing platform, the PC is a wide-open, mix-and-match hardware and software eco-system that can accommodate everything from water-cooled, internet-connected, planet-warming gaming systems, to itty-bitty portable PCs.

Instead of choosing from the limited hardware offerings of one company (Apple), you can shop around among hundreds of competitors for the exact configuration you need, usually for less money than the equivalent Mac would cost. (And you don't have to succumb to the holier-than-thou attitude worn on the sleeves of Macolytes.)

You can even dump Windows and use one of the many excellent Linux distributions available for free. What's not to like about choices (or for that matter, about the PC guy in the Apple 'Get a Mac' commercials, the embodiment of every PC user's inner geek)?

NEXT PAGE: What's so great about the Playstation 2?

  1. Mac vs PC
  2. What's so great about the Playstation 2?
  3. Ballmer vs Torvalds
  4. More classic tech battles
  5. Intel and AMD
  6. Inkjet printers vs laser printers
  7. Even more classic tech battles
  8. Microsoft vs Google

Technology is full of feuds. We've rounded-up the 10 biggest and best battles of the industry. So read on to find out who are the biggest winners and losers in history.

Sony PlayStation 2 vs Microsoft Xbox

What's so great about the Sony PlayStation 2?

Launched in 2000 and priced at £150 per unit, the Sony PS2 become the fastest-selling console of all time, quickly overshadowed 1999's Sega Dreamcast, and later it outsold two challengers launched in 2001, the Nintendo GameCube and the Microsoft Xbox.

Even today, slimmed-down PS2 units sell in greater numbers each month than Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii or Playstation 3 consoles.

Only the Nintendo DS handheld comes close to the PS2 in the size of its user base. Crucial to the PS2's original success were its built-in DVD (foreshadowing the inclusion of the Sony-backed Blu-ray format in the PS3) and its ability to play games designed for the original PlayStation and make them look better.

Among the noteworthy add-ons available for the PlayStation 2's were a DVD remote, a hard disk, a mouse, a keyboard, a Linux kit, a headset/microphone, an Eye Toy camera and game-specific peripherals such as the Singstar microphone and the Guitar Hero guitar.

What's so great about the Microsoft Xbox?

After supplying the operating system for Sega's Dreamcast console, Microsoft ventured directly into the console race with the PlayStation 2 squarely in its sights.

Unlike the PS2, the £150 Xbox boasted a built-in 8GB hard drive and was broadband-ready out of the box (the Xbox Live Online gaming service launched a year later). The powerful Xbox had a PC-like design and used a modified 733MHz Pentium III processor. One of its launch titles, Halo: Combat Evolved, emerged as the best-selling game of 2001. Microsoft slowly gained traction with its original Xbox.

The company got quicker off the mark, too: In 2005, the original Xbox's successor, the Xbox 360, reached stores a full year before Sony countered with its PlayStation 3 and Nintendo unveiled its Wii.

NEXT PAGE: Ballmer vs Torvalds

  1. Mac vs PC
  2. What's so great about the Playstation 2?
  3. Ballmer vs Torvalds
  4. More classic tech battles
  5. Intel and AMD
  6. Inkjet printers vs laser printers
  7. Even more classic tech battles
  8. Microsoft vs Google

Technology is full of feuds. We've rounded-up the 10 biggest and best battles of the industry. So read on to find out who are the biggest winners and losers in history.

Ballmer vs Torvalds

What's so great about Steve Ballmer?

When Steve Ballmer, aka Goliath, sets his sights on something, he gets it. Or he throws a chair (allegedly). Or he just goes crazy. He thinks Linux is for commies.

Much of Microsoft's tremendous growth has occurred under Steve's watch as CEO, which began in 2000. His tenure has been marked by the acquisition of other companies, including Visio, Great Plains and Groove Networks. Along the way, he became a billionaire.

But with software as we know it moving off of PCs and on to the web, Ballmer desperately needs to acquire something new (such as Yahoo or Facebook) to avoid being gnawed to death by Google.

What's so great about Linus Torvalds?

Linus Torvalds, aka David, isn't against Microsoft products; he's just not interested in them. He began tinkering with the free, open-source operating system named after him while working on his master's degree in computer science.

He doesn't throw things (even allegedly) or go crazy. Although he has final say over which programmers' contributions gain entry into the Linux operating system kernel, he is in essence a lowly programmer working for the Linux Foundation. Still, thanks to Torvalds, open-source software, and Linux in particular, may eventually eat Microsoft's lunch. And remember, David won his battle.

Laptop Eraserhead vs Touchpad

What's so great about an Eraserhead?

No, not the David Lynch movie, but the cursor controller that sticks out of the middle of some laptop keyboards. Lenovo calls its version the TrackPoint. The obvious plus of the eraserhead pointer is that you don't have to move your hands from the touch-typing home row to move the cursor around the screen.

Also, it's tactile, but not so easy to maneuvre that you can make mistakes just by hitting it. Admittedly, the rubber tip can get slippery or gummy, depending on how sweaty your finger is and/or what you ate for lunch. But why mess with success?

What's so great about a Touchpad?

The touchpad has some obvious advantages over the eraserhead pointer. For example, most touchpads let you scroll or perform other tasks by tapping or touching the pad's corners or sides.

Apple's Multi-Touch trackpad raises the touchpad to a new level, enabling you to scroll, resize, rotate, and otherwise manipulate windows and other on-screen objects by making simple gestures.

The obvious disadvantage of the touchpad is that it requires you to move your hands from the keyboard's home row. It also is less precise than a mouse for handling fine work on screen. On the other hand (or on the same hand), a touchpad wipes clean with a damp cloth if your egg salad sandwich performs impromptu gravity experiments on it at lunchtime.

NEXT PAGE: More classic tech battles

  1. Mac vs PC
  2. What's so great about the Playstation 2?
  3. Ballmer vs Torvalds
  4. More classic tech battles
  5. Intel and AMD
  6. Inkjet printers vs laser printers
  7. Even more classic tech battles
  8. Microsoft vs Google

Technology is full of feuds. We've rounded-up the 10 biggest and best battles of the industry. So read on to find out who are the biggest winners and losers in history.

Lotus 1-2-3 vs Microsoft Office Excel

What's so great about Lotus 1-2-3?

Although not the first spreadsheet program written for IBM's fledgling PC, Lotus 1-2-3 was the first great one, thanks to its speed, integrated functions, lack of bugs and support for opening large spreadsheets in expanded memory.

Although other spreadsheet programs written for MS-DOS matched and even improved on 1-2-3's features, none overtook it in popularity. In the late 1980s, though, Microsoft fielded an upstart spreadsheet called Excel for its Windows graphical interface. Lotus waited too long to release a Windows-based competitor (betting instead on IBM OS/2). By the time Windows 3.0 prompted a boom in Windows use, 1-2-3 had lost its lead. Rumours of 1-2-3's demise are premature, however; IBM still sells it as part of its Lotus SmartSuite office suite.

What's so great about Excel?

If 1-2-3 was so great, how did a newcomer manage to usurp its position in just a few years? By the time Microsoft ported its Macintosh-based spreadsheet to the PC in 1987, most spreadsheets offered all the extra goodies that a number cruncher could want, including built-in formulae, macro languages and database features.

But Excel offered a couple of things that its competitors lacked: pull-down menus and wysiwyg formatting that made it dramatically easier to use. Excel's time may be up, though: today Microsoft's Office Live (which includes an Excel component) falls short of free web-hosted applications such as Google Docs & Spreadsheets and Zoho Office.

Amazon.com vs your local bookstore

What's so great about Amazon?

On some level, you just want stuff. Never mind supporting local merchants, paying your fair share of sales tax, or even seeing something before buying it. Amazon gets that.

The mother of all online stores has a huge array of stuff for sale, including used books, used CDs, and other collectibles sold through partner vendors (all the people who used to own used-book and record stores in your town). The biggest downside to an Amazon transaction is guilt, because every order arrives in a dead-tree cardboard box stowed aboard a carbon-spewing delivery truck.

What's so great about your local bookstore?

Our local bookstore is awesome. We love the library-like ambience, and occasionally we even buy something, especially if Christmas or someone's birthday is looming. Besides selling books, the store has an excellent selection of reading glasses and gourmet chocolates for immediate purchase (and gratification). The friendly staff members sometimes make great recommendations for reading that we would never think of. And we often discover interesting books by using my eyes as a kind of analogue browser and the store shelves as a rudimentary site contents listing.

Bonus: To go to your local bookstore, you have to leave your computer, if only for a few minutes. There are drawbacks, of course. Inevitably a local bookstore has far fewer books to choose from than Amazon and on top of that, you are obliged by societal mores to get dressed and brush your teeth before hopping into a carbon-spewing car to go shopping.

NEXT PAGE: What's so great about Intel and AMD

  1. Mac vs PC
  2. What's so great about the Playstation 2?
  3. Ballmer vs Torvalds
  4. More classic tech battles
  5. Intel and AMD
  6. Inkjet printers vs laser printers
  7. Even more classic tech battles
  8. Microsoft vs Google

Technology is full of feuds. We've rounded-up the 10 biggest and best battles of the industry. So read on to find out who are the biggest winners and losers in history.

Intel vs AMD

What's so great about Intel?

Intel engineers created the first microprocessor, the 4004, in 1971. The rest (the part where Intel-powered PCs took over the world) is history. Amazingly, Intel's recent CPUs remain backward-compatible with software designed for the benchmark 80386 processor introduced in 1986.

On the green side (ecologically speaking), the company's newer, smaller chips use silicon and other component materials more efficiently, require less power, and support dramatically faster speeds. And the company had the brilliant idea of branding its work: remember the Intel Inside ad campaign, anyone? Competitors, including AMD, have tried to carve a little slice out of the Intel pie by reverse-engineering x86 processors of their own. So far, they're playing catch up.

What's so great about AMD?

For much of the early part of this century, Advanced Micro Devices enjoyed great success by producing processors that outperformed comparably priced Intel chips.

Its earlier Athlon CPUs were performance champs, and they usually sold for less than comparable Intel products. But AMD stumbled when it tried to produce an immediate competitor to Intel's latest quadruple-core processors, and the company's purchase of graphics hardware maker ATI imposed a serious burden on its finances.

AMD's plans to jump to 12-core processors by 2010 are interesting. And the prospect of success in an antitrust lawsuit alleging anticompetitive sales practices by Intel may be a source of optimism at AMD in 2008.

Luckily, the company has some of the most loyal customers in the business. In any event, a serious competitor to Intel (especially one willing to go after it in court) is the surest way to guarantee better, less expensive products for consumers.

Gates vs Jobs

What's so great about Bill Gates?

Microsoft's success has earned Bill Gates £29bn so far. Okay, so the prosecutor in the antitrust case US vs Microsoft would say that some of the business practices that generated that fortune were unethical, but business is business, right?

This summer the former evil-software-empire chairman begins his new full-time job with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, giving a big chunk of that money away.

Thanks to matching contributions from Bill's even richer card-playing buddy Warren Buffett, the foundation is currently endowed with nearly £20bn, which it uses for such laudable activities as fostering global agricultural development and financial services for the poor; fighting HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, and malnutrition; improving women's and children's health; and promoting literacy in the US and abroad. Does the end justify the means?

What's so great about Steve Jobs?

Steve Jobs is the rock star of the tech world, and (reportedly) an insufferable egomaniac. He's a billionaire too, though nowhere near as wealthy as Bill Gates.

His vision of what a computer or a gadget could be, starting with the Apple I in 1976, has always been way, way out there. He foresaw that a lot of people would pay extra for a phone or a laptop that was not merely functional but a work of art, with the result that now we have engineering marvels like the iPhone and the MacBook Air.

For more than 30 years, Steve has been really excited about this stuff, browbeating and cajoling his people into make cooler devices, and then convincing the buying public of how insanely great these products are. And they are great.

NEXT PAGE: Inkjet Printers vs Laser Printers

  1. Mac vs PC
  2. What's so great about the Playstation 2?
  3. Ballmer vs Torvalds
  4. More classic tech battles
  5. Intel and AMD
  6. Inkjet printers vs laser printers
  7. Even more classic tech battles
  8. Microsoft vs Google

Technology is full of feuds. We've rounded-up the 10 biggest and best battles of the industry. So read on to find out who are the biggest winners and losers in history.

Inkjet printers vs laser printers

What's so great about Inkjets?

Ah, little inkjet printer, you give us rich colours for our photographs, as long as we use your specially coated paper. But soon, so soon, the ink wells run dry, the colourful cataracts diminish, and everything comes out all blue or yellow.

And since a replacement set of ink cartridges for you may cost as much as the whole printer did originally, we must bid you a sorrowful adieu and move on to a new printer, which, tragically, too, will find its way to sleep in the local landfill.

More prosaically, some of your cartridges contain microchips that block printing after an expiration date or before the cartridge is empty; we can't understand why you won't let us print on our own schedule. We're perplexed that third-party cartridges tend to be far less expensive and often match the OEM cartridges' quality, and we harbour horrible suspicions as to why your manufacturer has gone to such great lengths to block their sales.

But cheap access to a clean, pretty paper copy of the Google Map to the restaurant where we're going for supper or to a quickie photo of the kid for Grandma makes all that go away.

What's so great about laser printers?

Oh mighty (and inexpensive) monochrome laser printer, for black-and-white documents you are the only way to go, pounding out prints at a cost per page of around 1p much less than the cost of inkjet printing.

And for colour elements, such as charts, logos, and other graphics, your high-toned siblings, the colour laser printers, produce longer-lasting prints faster than inkjets can, at about the same cost per page. True, when your cartridge finally conks out, the bill can really hurt and if you're a colour laser, the cartridges can set me back more than the printer did. So maybe we should share most of my 'prints' via email over our iPhone.

Microsoft Office vs Google Docs

What's so great about Microsoft Office?

Any old app can let you enter some characters, maybe italicise a few, and add some links. But if you want to do serious, manly work with office documents, you need Microsoft Office. Just try using mail merge on your documents in Google Docs.

The feature doesn't exist, does it? Applying conditional formatting to your spreadsheets? Also AWOL. Creating a custom animation in your presentations? We didn't think so. Okay, so maybe you don't use these superpowers every day but don't you want them to be there, ready to spring into action, when you do need them?

What's so great about Google Docs?

Sure, Google Docs doesn't have all the features of Microsoft Office. Today's animals aren't as big as the Tyrannosaurus Rex either, but we all know what happened to the Tyrant Lizard King. Plus, Google Docs has some cool features that Office doesn't and they happen to be features you'll actually use, like the ability to get to your documents from any PC that has a web connection. (You can even edit offline with Google Gears.)

Another great feature is the ability to let friends and colleagues share and edit your documents without a hassle. Oh yeah, and did we mention it's free?

NEXT PAGE: Even more classic tech battles

  1. Mac vs PC
  2. What's so great about the Playstation 2?
  3. Ballmer vs Torvalds
  4. More classic tech battles
  5. Intel and AMD
  6. Inkjet printers vs laser printers
  7. Even more classic tech battles
  8. Microsoft vs Google

Technology is full of feuds. We've rounded-up the 10 biggest and best battles of the industry. So read on to find out who are the biggest winners and losers in history.

Netscape vs Internet Explorer

What's so great about Netscape?

Alas, poor Netscape has ceased to be. After debuting in 1994, Netscape (called Netscape Navigator starting with version 2.0) quickly became the most popular web browser and helped turn a mostly text-based and underutilised global network called the internet into the hottest thing since sliced bread.

Over the course of a byzantine series of version numbering systems and owners, Netscape gradually lost market share, but eventually it inspired the open-source Mozilla and Firefox browsers.

What's so great about Internet Explorer?

Because Internet Explorer is integrated with Windows, it's always there, it loads quickly, and it continues to be the most popular browser in use. Some website components, such as Netflix's Watch Instantly feature, are written to work exclusively with Internet Explorer (sorry, Mac users).

IE7 has incorporated a few key amenities from Firefox, too, including pop-up blocking and a tabbed interface. The current version of Microsoft's browser, IE 7, works well and becomes a necessity at websites that refuse to work with Firefox. At this rate, though, by the time IE8 comes out, its features will be lagging years behind those of Mozilla's Firefox.

Nintendo vs Sega

What's so great about Nintendo?

After a North American release through Atari fell through, Nintendo went it alone, unveiling its Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) at the 1985 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Nintendo's Mario, the Mario Brothers sibling originally known as Jumpman, is arguably the best-known and most beloved video-game character in history. By 1990, the NES was the best-selling video game console in the UK, thanks to titles such as Super Mario Bros, Duck Hunt (with Zapper gun), The Legend of Zelda, and Donkey Kong Jr.

In 1989, Nintendo began to lose market share to Sega's 16-bit Genesis console - a circumstance that Nintendo sought to reverse in 1991 with the release of its own 16-bit console, the Super NES. These two 16-bit rivals were the key combatants in the notorious console wars of that era, a conflict that stirred more-intense schoolyard and media debate than today's Xbox 360 vs PlayStation 3 rivalry. Were you a Mario maniac or a Sonic the Hedgehog kid?

What's so great about Sega?

Sega launched its Master System in the US only a few months after Nintendo's original NES became widely available. But Nintendo had a trump card to play against Sega: its strict game developer contracts prohibited developers from releasing any NES game on any other console for two years.

Because the NES had emerged as the dominant console, a developer had to decide between maximising its game's sales and gambling on the success of a new console. This stark choice helped limit the game offerings Sega could muster.

In 1989, Sega hit back with its Mega Drive system, the first true 16-bit console. The Mega Drive pushed the NEC TurboGrafx-16 into obscurity and quickly began eating into sales of Nintendo's original NES. Nintendo took two years to achieve parity on a technical level via the 16-bit Super NES.

Sega's blue-spiked mascot Sonic is a relative newcomer to the video-game scene (born in 1991). Though Sonic is a freedom-loving and independent super-hedgehog (faster than the speed of sound!) who can be counted on to come to the aid of his friends, he can be testy, and doesn't do well in water without a good running start.

NEXT PAGE: Microsoft vs Google

  1. Mac vs PC
  2. What's so great about the Playstation 2?
  3. Ballmer vs Torvalds
  4. More classic tech battles
  5. Intel and AMD
  6. Inkjet printers vs laser printers
  7. Even more classic tech battles
  8. Microsoft vs Google

Technology is full of feuds. We've rounded-up the 10 biggest and best battles of the industry. So read on to find out who are the biggest winners and losers in history.

Microsoft vs Google

What's so great about Microsoft?

In just 30 years, Microsoft has produced an array of successful products, notably, the Windows operating systems, that not only dominate, but in some cases define how the world does business. Microsoft has shown that it knows how to create and sell software better than any other company in history. So far.

But as businesses gradually switch to open-source and web-hosted services, Microsoft could see that dominance wither. The company's inability to win large audiences for its online products and services, plus the steady growth in popularity of Macs and Linux-based PCs, may not bode well. Microsoft sometimes seems to be its own worst enemy, too.

Many people in the target audience for Windows Vista are convinced that running Windows XP on their existing PCs is just fine for now. Desperate to sell new versions of Office every couple of years, Microsoft develops innovations like ribbon menus and XML file formats but lots of users say, "Thanks, but no thanks."

What's so great about Google?

In less than 10 years, Google has grown from an upstart search engine running out of a Silicon Valley garage into a £11.5bn information technology powerhouse.

Along the way, Google has broadened its portfolio of products and services by introducing game-changing technology to an existing market (Pagerank, Gmail) or by acquiring other promising companies and their products (Blogger and Writely). Unfortunately its march toward world dominance causes unease among privacy experts. Sound familiar?

Although its approach isn't quite the same as Microsoft's lethal 'embrace, extend, extinguish' moto, Google has certainly managed to grab significant market share in some areas, while generating revenue along the way. But can it actually beat Microsoft in its strongest suites?

Cable vs DSL

What's so great about Cable?

If you want the fastest download times at the lowest cost, cable is clearly the way to go. Many companies have put together great-looking service bundles that include cable TV service, voice over IP, and (claimed) excellent download speeds. When everything works properly, cable is simply superior to DSL.

But the issue of shared access continues to bedevil cable. When your neighbours are downloading files, too, everyone's speeds will suffer. And, if you haven't had cable before, you'll have to add lines to your house. On the other hand, you won't have to deal with the phone company, which is a huge plus in any rational system of thought.

What's so great about DSL?

Sure, in most areas, even the fastest DSL connection can't match the speed of cable. On the other hand, you don't share your DSL bandwidth with your neighbours, so you really ought to get close to the advertised download and upload speeds from your DSL service provider.

In most instances, you won't need any new wiring either because your existing phone lines can handle the job. So what's the catch? DSL speed depends heavily on the quality of your existing lines. If they are poor, your service will be poor.

And you'll have to deal with your phone company. But if you don't want to add cabling to your home, you don't insist on having the fastest download times, and you're in a loving relationship with your phone company, go for DSL.

  1. Mac vs PC
  2. What's so great about the Playstation 2?
  3. Ballmer vs Torvalds
  4. More classic tech battles
  5. Intel and AMD
  6. Inkjet printers vs laser printers
  7. Even more classic tech battles
  8. Microsoft vs Google