On another subforum here Tom, you and I went briefly over the 'quality' of Apple hardware. I'm sorry, but buying a couple at most and using them in an undemanding way and calling it quality is like driving a SUV to work over a freeway every day and calling it a capable off-roader. When you, like me, have actually purchased a number of these machines for somewhere near the power they are supposed to have to work in a moderately hostile commercial setting where they?re not lavished with babying care, then the difference between what really ?just works? and what doesn't becomes very, very clear.
The real difference in ?quality? is that Apple doesn?t sell hardware at price points where it is not generally possible to get acceptable user results with either OS. Other manufacturers do somewhat inadvertently but unavoidably (due to competition) shoot themselves in the foot with their $500 laptops. At comparable price points, the ?quality? barometer is ? in my far more relevant experience to most people out there ? not in favour of Apple, in all but the most superficial way. Predictably and ironically, taking the potential buyer for an idiot as Apple indirectly does results in better user satisfaction than a manufacturer which leaves the user to make the detailed (and usually wrong, since they don't know what they're supposed to be buying) purchasing decision.
The lack of quality is not in the design, it stems from inadequate engineering and issues in the core build quality / quality control of the product. Why do you think Apple has so many Rev.A issues for real? They?ve done such a good job of bamboozling the Apple faithful to date so that they don?t realise that hardware-wise, it?s actually been Mobileme every time. Companies like Dell and HP have access to the same build quality: The only difference is that they engineer their machines to deal better with variations in build quality. If you run the ragged edge of what your factories can achieve and what your design actually needs to run reliably, then you get problems like those I get with Apple. The rumours about Apple building their own factories? This is perhaps good news and if true, an indicator that they have known what I have also known for quite a while.
You can actually see the difference in approach to engineering in things as simple as the drive carriers. The Dell workstation drive carriers are made of moulded plastic and connected via cables exposed at the front of the PC. The Apple carriers are made of sculpted metal and slot directly into the motherboard, so no cables. Dell =ugly. Apple = neato. To take out and replace the drives on the Dell, you pull off the cables and pinch the two tabs on both sides of the plastic carrier to remove the drive with zero effort, then bend the plastic carrier to take out the hard disk without any tools. In contrast you need to develop a variety of grip styles depending on the drive slot position on the Pro since the force required to remove each drive from the motherboard slot is not inconsiderable, then you need to unscrew the 4 screws from the carrier in order to remove the disk. Also if the drive deviates in any way from the standard SATA arrangement in terms of connector placement, you?re hosed on the Pro. And even with the supposedly more secure fixture on the Pro, the deformation that the metal carriers can undergo in regular slotting / unslotting means that the carrier can develop play in the slot, leading to loud buzzing noises. In contrast, the toolless carrier on the Dell stays put once whacked in. The relative differences carry on in much the same manner throughout the system ? 160mm fan against 120 for better airflow, more carefully placed fans for better separated cooling without a major noise penalty ? the list goes on. And should it ever go wrong, you should check out the difference in service between Apple's supposedly Pro equipment and Dell's uplifted Precision support... it'll open your eyes. The difference is somewhat equivalent to the F-150 against the Escalade - One actually does stuff. The other is for show.
Recently at the earliest opportunity, I've swept my business largely clean of Macs, with also something of a purge at home. The remaining octo / FX5600'd Pro at home is used primarily running EyeTV, for easy transcoding of recorded TV to the Touch. I will sit down on it and crank up Firefox as well as do other things from time to time, but these days it is the only thing I feel I need the Mac for in a domestic setting. I also have an iMac in the kitchen, also running EyeTV and iTunes. My Precision T7400's now do the actual Pro-equivalent octocore heavy lifting with a variety of superior-or-equivalent applications under Windows. My Sony TZ's, SZ's and Z's have more than capably taken over the role previously occupied by the hopeless-all-round Air and the hopelessly fragile Macbook Pro in an actual laptop utility, and should I genuinely require serious amounts of usable power for transportable use I have the HP 8710w's - which will shortly be complimented by the Precision M6400's.
Even in terms of the bundled iLife, if you're saying that it caters better for anyone who can't be bothered to look for anything better, sure. I can - and there are better entry-level media creation suites for Windows for under $200.
As I might have said elsewhere, generally speaking if you're serious about work and play you'll run Windows as an application platform. And conversely, generally speaking if you're serious about sitting in Starbucks while Facebooking the Twittering about your Blog, then you'll run OS X. And if you are as painfully nerdy as to be into OS's for OS's sake and not it's effectiveness as an application platform, yeah - then BSD + makeup in a pretty case makes for a powerful aphrodisiac for some.
However, knowing what you want and having objectives beyond using the OS doesn't necessarily mean that you're just a budget-obsessed gamer. It means you can genuinely make up your own mind with truly informed opinions.