While Apple's Macs running OS X are without a doubt making inroads into the territory owned by Microsoft and PC makers with Windows machines, the fact of the matter is that the Redmond company and its OEM partners still account for the vast majority of the operating system and computer markets.
As far as consumer trends are concerned, there is a palpable shift from traditional desktops to laptops, and Microsoft is not only delivering Windows Vista, an operating system tailored to a mobile lifestyle, but it is also prepared to offer guidance on the acquisition of a new computer. From the Windows Guide library, the Redmond company has made available for download the Windows Laptop Selector Buying Basics.
"GHz? MBs? SDRAM? You don’t have to speak nerd to find a great laptop. Our Buying Basics makes it simple and straightforward to understand what you need to know when looking for your next PC," reads an excerpt from the guide. Of course that the decision to buy a new machine orbits around money. "Many people see price as the biggest factor when buying a PC. A bargain-basement price may seem tempting now, but will it give you the laptop you want for the long haul? Technology changes rapidly and even if you spend less today, you might end up paying more tomorrow just to keep up with new software."
Microsoft offers a comprehensive breakdown of what users should expect their machine to do, in accordance with a range of prices from $500 to over $3,500. But in addition to price, Microsoft is offering advice on aspects such as weight, speed, storage, screen size, ports, video and graphics, CD/DVD and even operating system. As far as the platform is concerned, all that Microsoft recommends is Windows Vista. However, that is understandable, now that Windows XP's availability through the retail and OEM channels was discontinued at the end of June 2008, and Vista's precursor is only available on ultra-low-cost desktops and laptops, from system builders and via downgrade rights.