The title of your question indicates that you are interested in
personal computers, and in your question you have divided them into
two groups: IBM and Macintosh. By "IBM" I will presume you are
referring to PCs running Microsoft Windows (though I will also note
operating system alternatives) and by "Macintosh" I will presume that
you are referring to computers created by Apple (though there have
been at least two other manufacturers at various times in history).
In both cases, I will refer to the latest generation of these products
with the latest operating systems: Windows XP Pentium 4 PC and
Macintosh G4 with OS X.
"IBM" or Windows PC vs Apple Macintosh
Windows PCs are generally less expensive than the Apple Macintosh.
There are a greater number of Windows PCs sold, and a greater number
of competing Windows PC hardware suppliers which tend to push prices
lower. For example, Dell creates a Windows XP Pentium 4 PC for as
little as $499, while the least expensive Apple Macintosh G4 I found
Because there are a substantially larger number of Windows PCs,
software developers tend to release their Windows version long before
(sometimes years before) their Macintosh version. Others don't create
a Macintosh version at all. This is particularly true for freeware
and shareware (free or inexpensive software available for download)
and games. There is a bright spot for Macintosh users in the art and
desktop publishing world, with software for that market usually
released simultaneously for the Macintosh and the Windows PC. Having
said that, there is still plenty of software for the Macintosh, and
most Macintosh users find all the software they need. One type of
"software" that Macintosh users are happy to "miss out" on are viruses
and related attacks. Virus creators tend to focus on the more
commonly used Windows PC, making attacks less common on the Macintosh.
Hardware and Performance
While there are performance statistics available, this has almost
become a subjective science, with each side finding computational
tasks that favor their hardware. For their CPU (Central Processing
Unit) Macintosh uses a PowerPC G4, while the Windows PC uses a Pentium
4 (or alternative processor from AMD). Pentium 4 processors have
significantly higher clock speeds (measured in Ghz), however, this
does not always equal higher performance (measured in Gigaflops).
Also, how well the operating system is tuned to work with the hardware
is also a performance factor. In general, the processors are so fast
now for Windows PCs and Apple Macintoshes that in day-to-day use, this
no longer needs to be a deciding factor. Perhaps a more significant
consideration is how well the hardware works with the software. Here
the Apple has an advantage because they have complete control over the
hardware and operating system. Apple also has fewer hardware
configurations to test against, so software developers can test
against known configurations. For Windows PCs, there is nearly an
endless variety of configurations from the CPU (AMD vs Intel), to the
motherboard (many different manufacturers), to which I/O is supported
(USB, Firewire, IDE, SCSI), to the video card (many variations), to
the sound card (many variations) and on and on and on. Apple
computers tend to standardize on innovative hardware configurations.
For Windows PCs, some are innovative while some are outdated legacy
equipment. For software developers, it can be difficult to take all
the various Windows PC configuration into account.
"New Power Macs Pack Plenty of Oomph" by Kelly McNeill
"Should Apple Go Intel?" by Ben Wilson
Apple "G4 Processors"
Operating System and Ease of Use
For many years, Apple Macintosh was synonymous with "easy to use" and
I believe it still holds true with its computers running OS X.
However, Windows XP has also become very easy to use. So while I
believe (as a subjective opinion) that Macintosh is easier to use than
a Windows PC, it is now a very narrow margin.
Macintosh OS X runs on top of Unix. For the casual user, they are
never aware of this. But, for the technical user, the prospect of
having access to Unix underneath a pretty shell is very exciting. For
the technical user, it is the best of both worlds: the ease of use of
a Macintosh and the full power of Unix.
Windows XP on the Windows PC is the synthesis of Windows NT/2000 and
the Windows 95/98/ME operating systems. Because of its use of Windows
NT/2000 at its core, it is the most reliable Microsoft Windows
operating system for the home market to date, while keeping some of
the "user-friendly" features of Windows 95/98/ME.
Some PC users prefer to use Linux instead of Windows, though this is
currently a minority. Linux is an inexpensive (or free) open-source
operating system. There have recently been computers marketed running
Lindows. Lindows is a Linux interface for offering Linux users the
ability to run Windows programs. While still in the early stages,
Lindows is generating interest.
ExtremeTech: "Review: Lindows 2.0 Dissected" by Jim Lynch
Wired: "Lindows: Linux Meets Windows" by Andy Patrizio
A final note: While IBM created the PC that has evolved to become the
"Windows PC" or "WIntel PC" (Windows-Intel), note that the PowerPC CPU
that runs Apple Macintosh computers is created as a joint venture
between IBM and Motorla. So the term "IBM" to describe a personal
computer can be confusing. If you are interested in IBM's role in the
PowerPC, you may find this article of interest:
Macworld: "Motorola and IBM reveal PowerPC Plans" by Stephen Beale
Search Strategy: Use common manufacturers such as Dell and Apple to
for the basis of a comparison.
Apple PowerPC G4 Pentium 4 benchmark
I hope you have found this information useful and easy to understand.
If you have any questions about this information, please do not
hesitate to post a clarification request before rating the answer.