04/13/2009 10:33 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Which is better, a PC or a Mac?

Apple made a splash with its advertising comparing the Mac to the PC. Now Microsoft has fired back with their own commercials touting PCs as a better value. So what are the true facts? It all depends on how you make the comparison and what's important to you. But I think the real discussion should be about how well the two platforms work and the differences in hardware. Here are ten points to compare.

1. Starting up - Turn on a Macintosh from sleep and the screen lights up instantly, networks are quickly found, and the computer is ready to use a few seconds later. The same with closing down. PCs take much longer. This means you're more likely to use the Mac like a radio, turning it on and off to retrieve information without giving it a second thought. Advantage: Mac

2. Viruses - Macs have no significant viruses, meaning you don't need to run anti-virus software that slows the computer down and takes your time. (Yes, technically there are occasional virus that are harmful to a Mac, but it's nowhere near the problem it is with PCs). Advantage: Mac

3. Versatility of Programs - The availability of programs for the PC is vastly superior to the Mac. In most categories, you'll find dozens of programs for the PC and only a handful for the Mac. While you can run Windows virtually on a Mac, you wouldn't buy a Mac for just running PC programs. Macintosh addresses this shortcoming by supplying more of its own excellent programs in the purchase price. But if you want to run the thousands of PC programs get a PC. Advantage: PC

4. Stability - Macs crash less because the OS is more stable and Apple has more control over the software. With the huge variety of PC software and hardware and the less stable Windows, you run into more problems. Advantage: Mac

5. Customer support - Computers of all brands tend to have problems. First year repair rates tend to be a little better for Macs. When you need help Apple offers good on-line support out of Canada and terrific help at their Apple stores whether you purchased your computer there or not. Advantage: Mac

6. Hardware choice - While Apple's notebooks are beautifully designed you're limited to fewer choices of size and functionality. No Mac model comes close to the portability of the netbooks that weighs under three pounds, nor does Apple make a product comparable to a PC tablet. Yet. Advantage PC.

7. Ease of use - PCs are harder to set up, more difficult to add and remove programs and more difficult to connect to your wireless networks. Macs are closer to being plug and play. Advantage: Mac.

8. Operating system - Mac's OS-X is more advanced and more stable. It's more contemporary in appearance and there's no registry and special files to contend with. Advantage: Mac.

9. Cost - While Apple's products are now closer in cost to PCs, especially if you consider the value of the applications that are included, you can find PCs as much as 20% less. Advantage: PC.

10. Business integration - If your company uses Windows servers and your email and data access are tied to your corporate network then you need to use a PC. Advantage PC.

Apple wins 6-4. The bottom line is the Mac is less of a hassle, is easier to use, and works more like an appliance. But if you want a much wider choice of software and hardware and need to run the latest PC programs because of business requirements, then go with a PC.