IMHO, Microsoft is to be commended for its strategy of making a contribution to the community with the best software and programs like MSDN, Partners, & TechNet. Hardware is highly volatile and I like to buy the cheapest Hong Kong box I can find and stuff it with all the memory, graphics, etc. that I can afford. I realize that most consumers don't do that, but they can still go to Fry's Electronics and buy a super brand-X box for less than most Apple accessories. Software major releases change less often than hardware.
Apple to me is the rich man's machine. It's very pretty, very expensive, and very well supported as long as you don't venture outside the box. They control everything to the max, which may give newbies confidence, but it seriously limits them as well. I prefer the wild environment of the free market. Sure, they've given away lots of machines to schools, but that's just a move to grab consumers when they're young and vulnerable. I value Apple primarily as a force to keep Microsoft honest. Steve Jobs was a great guy, but I wouldn't have wanted to work for him. Woz was cooler though.
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