Mac OS Vs. Windows Laptop For Programming? 3 Things To Consider

Is Windows or Mac better for programming? Another in a long line of questions about which of the two is better for what activity. The Windows vs Mac debate has been going on for as long as the two have existed.

And it seems as though the internet is rife with opinion posts about which is better for what subject whether it be personal use, photo or video editing, web development, gaming, cat video playing, etc. Today, we take a look at whether Windows or Mac is better for programming.

The Mac appears to hail as the go-to for software engineers but does it really stand out against Windows for programming specifically? The answer is not as simple as you might think.

In short, this choice really comes down to the programming you will be doing and your own personal preference. Before we get into the breakdown between the two, there are a few things to remember when it comes to programming.

Things to Remember

1. Linux and UNIX

Linux-and-UNIX
Source: coderseye

…UNIX called for its stability, flexibility, and security . Linux powers everything from your phone to your refrigerator ..

Linux and UNIX are very important to programming. Before Linux came UNIX. UNIX is an operating system and is crowned as one of, if not the best, operating systems ever created, so called for its stability, flexibility, and security.

Linux is an operating system as well, just like Windows and macOS and has become one of the most popular development operating systems available. It powers everything from your phone to your refrigerator. Linux is Unix-like, meaning it is similar in many ways to Unix despite not being the same. You must be able to run Linux on your laptop to be able to program. That being said, both Mac and Windows can run Linux just fine.

2. The Work You’re Doing

The laptop you choose will also depend on what sort of programming and development you are working on. Simply stated, if you’re doing programming work for macOS, it will likely be easier on you if you have macOS running on your device; likewise with Windows.

Simply stated, there are some stacks which just work better with Windows and some that just work better with Mac. So, before choosing a platform to program on, first think about what sort of programming you are going to be doing.

3. Personal Preference

To be perfectly frank, this debate really comes down to personal preference. If you’ve been using Windows your whole life, don’t take this article (or any of the opinionated, indoctrinated debates you see online) as proof that you need to switch to Mac or vice versa.

There is really no right answer to this question and it all comes down to your needs as a programmer i.e. what and who you are programming for as well as your needs as a consumer of technology. So, relax and have fun! That’s what programming is about.

Things to Consider

Now we’ll get into a bit of a breakdown between the two and how they stack up to each other in terms of programming. Keep in mind the points above as they are truly the most important when it comes to choosing the best platform for you and your programming needs.

MacOS

MacOS
Source: wikimedia
  • Unix-like
  • Only platform you can develop iOS on
  • Expensive

Mac laptops are versatile, high tech machines that can get the job done. They will be able to handle most any coding and programming work you do. Especially if you’re doing programming work for an Apple ecosystem, then a Mac is your best option.

Almost any hiccups can be worked around using alternate software, apps, programs, etc. Some programmers claim that Mac will give you far fewer headaches than Windows when it comes to certain stacks or languages which may be true but the bottom line is your ability to program.

MacOS is Unix-like, meaning it is similar to, but not the same as, Unix and by extension, Linux. This means that development may just be a tiny bit easier and slightly less time-consuming on a Mac as compared to Windows.

The main drawback to Mac for the first time buyer is the price. Most new Macs range well over $2000 at the time of writing. If you’re into programming as a career, Mac is definitely an option to consider for its programming ability and ease of use in certain stack development. For casual programmers though, there are other, more budget-friendly, options available to you that will work for your purposes.

Check out our round-up of best Macbooks in 2019 for ideas on where to start with Macs for programming.

Windows

Windows
Source: swharden
  • Used by more users
  • Can run Linux
  • Can be a headache for back end development

With Windows, you would be developing on the platform used by the most users. Despite the Macs’ popularity in the media, Windows still reigns as the most used platform and thus the most developed for. You’ll find it more popular with software engineers who develop for the enterprise.

That being said, you can’t develop for iOS on a Windows computer so keep in mind the type of development you want to work on.

Windows is not Unix-like, as macOS is, but Linux can be run on Windows now and updates are being made relatively regularly to support it. This can bring Windows nearly up to the level of ease that a Mac gives with more compatibility and stability.

While Windows is great for front end development, for back end developers, the platform can be a pain to use. You’ll be sitting through several hours of updates, drivers, installers, etc. to get a good system running but after that, you’ll find your development easier.

You can check out our round-up of best laptops for programming which happen to include only Windows computers for various areas of programming.

While Windows may be better for some programming and Mac other, most all programming can be done on either with some workarounds. ‘Better’ (in terms of programming) here really means ‘easier’. Both types of laptops are very similar and you’ll find that programming ease often comes with practice and knowledge and not necessarily equipment.

Always keep in mind the type of programming you want to be doing and what your own personal preferences are when choosing between Mac and Windows for your programming needs.

Both types of laptops are very similar and you’ll find that programming ease often comes with practice and knowledge and not necessarily equipment. Always keep in mind the type of programming you want to be doing and what your own personal preferences are when choosing between Mac and Windows for your programming needs.

Resources

LINFO. Linux for Absolute Beginners, The Linux Info Project.

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