As a longtime user of Windows machines and a new user of Apple machines I can honestly say that one machine is not necessarily better than the other, or put differently, one operating system is not necessarily better than the other. In terms of hardware my MacBook Pro blows my Toshiba Satellite Pro out of the water. But it’s 5 years newer and I bought it with better specs and spent nearly twice as much for it. But there are plenty of Windows machines out there with comparable or better specs.
In terms of operating systems, I like OS X Mavericks. I also like Windows 8.1. I liked Windows 7 and Vista and XP too. I really don’t know why everyone trashed Vista so much. I still use it on my Toshiba and it works perfectly fine. Anyway, I probably like Mavericks the best right now but that’s because of how it’s optimized for my hardware. Windows 8.1 on the Mac is cool, but it’s better on a touch screen, which I’ve used it on, so I’m speaking from experience.
At the end of the day I think it boils down to workflow and which system is going to aid the user in getting their work done most efficiently. If all I needed was a machine to browse the internet with and check email then I’d be fine with a Chromebook or a tablet. If media consumption was my main computing task than most any tablet would do the job. But the stuff I do requires a bit more power and speed.
I’ve found that out of the box my MacBook Pro is able to handle pretty much everything that I throw at it. Sure, it’s not customizable in terms of the hardware (pretty much everything is soldered down to something on the inside), but for my tasks I don’t need upgrades. The beauty of many Windows systems is that when you’re workload increases you can change your machine to handle it. That’s a huge plus for many users.
So I’ve said all this to say that I don’t think the question is ever as simple as “which machine/system is better?” The questions are better for who and better for what? The answer will inevitably vary. BTW, I’ve lovingly corrected a number of Mac enthusiasts on this point since becoming a Mac user. I really do like the machine but I’m not drinking the cult’s Kool-Aid just yet.