This is a common question we get asked by many of you. Since it's back to school time, let's focus on what makes them so special.
About each platform
A PC is manufactured by many different companies and it runs the Microsoft Windows operating system. Manufacturers such as HP, Dell, Acer, Sony, and more produce these desktop and laptop computers for use with Microsoft Windows. Windows is what most of us are familiar with. Windows has a start bar at the bottom of the screen and a handy start button to launch programs. Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last 20 years, you've already seen a Windows computer at offices, schools, and homes. Windows computers account for almost 90% of all computers used today. As a direct result, most software and hardware are compatible with PCs.
Macs are unique in both, hardware and software. The hardware and software are produced by one company: Apple. Macs have a bar similar to Windows on the bottom of the screen, but it's called a dock and allows you to have frequently used programs appear for easy access. The environment is similar to windows, but has subtle differences. Despite having less than 10% market share, Apple has managed to drop it's unique "for creative people" status, and enter a variety of environments. Macs are now used by students, business professionals and, of course families. Most peripherals, such as printers and other devices, and software are Mac compatible. Since Macs are produced by one company, their tighter integration results in a quality product. Battery life, performance, and design are all as good or better than most PCs. They're also much slimmer and lighter than their PC counterparts.
Advice: If you're considering buying for a student, make sure the school's software or applications are compatible with your preference. Some may require you to buy one over the other based on curriculum. Most schools allow either choices.