The holy tech flame wars


Since the dawn of technology people have been arguing about which technology is better. As with all such debates there are usually no simple answers and it often comes down to personal taste.

These discussions tend to be very infected due to the almost religious belief shown by the most hardcore supporters of a technology, a thorough conviction that all other options are inferior. Sometimes the technology creators themselves also add fuel to the fire by joining the discussions.

Let’s have a look at some of the more famous tech wars – or tech feuds – from both past and present.

Operating systems and platforms

Amiga vs. Atari

During the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when the Amiga and Atari computers were at their peak, their users were constantly arguing and making fun of each other. While not directly fanning the flames, the companies themselves weren’t on the best of terms, especially since Jack Tramiel who funded Commodore later on bought the Atari Consumer Electronics Division and launched the Atari ST, a direct competitor to the Amiga.

PC vs. Mac

The ongoing PC versus Mac war is really more about Windows versus Mac OS and is one of those never-ending conflicts. While Windows really is the winner here because of its much larger user base, the Mac OS crowd is very vocal and dedicated.

And the companies play along. Apple’s Mac versus PC ads are a recent example.

Windows vs. Linux

Windows doesn’t just take fire from the Apple crowd, it’s also under constant attack from the Linux community. The arguments are that not only is Linux cheaper (free) but also more secure and stable.

Windows users on the other hand think Linux is a hobby OS with poor usability.

Android vs. iPhone

After Apple burst onto the smartphone scene with the iPhone and pretty much wiped the floor with the competition, the iPhone more or less became the king of the hill in the smartphone market. Then Google announced Android. This of coursed caused a stir, and now when Android phones are starting to come out in force, people just can’t stop debating which platform will be the winner.


Nintendo vs. Sega

Both Nintendo and Sega and their respective users fought hard, especially during the ‘90s. The companies competed for several console generations starting with the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Master System. Eventually Sega had to give in, much to the disappointment of its fans.

Sony vs. Microsoft vs. Nintendo

The console industry of today has a three-way battle going on. You don’t have to look far to find fans in heated arguments about which console is the best and provides the most entertainment, with the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 butting heads and the Nintendo Wii being pulled into the discussion from time to time.


Netscape vs. Internet Explorer

During the ‘90s, Netscape was the web browser of choice for almost everyone. When Microsoft entered the browser market relatively late no one thought they would manage to simply run over Netscape, but this is what eventually happened. Today Internet Explorer is the most common browser and Netscape is nowhere to be seen.

The debate mostly raged between developers regarding which of the two browsers had the worst bugs and many websites had badges telling you which browser to use, for compatibility.

Internet Explorer vs. Firefox, Safari and Chrome

While Internet Explorer has the largest user base today it’s under heavy attack from Firefox, Safari, Chrome and others. These “alternative” browsers are steadily gaining on Internet Explorer and have a very vocal user base.


Gnome vs. KDE

There are several desktop environments available for Linux/Unix, but the two most common are Gnome and KDE. They have both taken different paths and attracted different types of users, the end result of course being an endless discussion on which one is the best.

VI vs. Emacs

This has to be the ultimate geek war topic. The debate about which Unix text editor one should be using has a long history, and the conviction of the followers of these two editors is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that there is a newsgroup called alt.religion.emacs.

This war will never end.


When it comes to programming websites most developers have their preferred language and platform. While there are lots of different languages available it seems like the PHP and ASP.NET crowds are the least likely to live in harmony.


AMD vs. Intel

The choice of processor is something most people base on the current price and performance. But there are people who have picked either AMD or Intel and are sticking by their side no matter what.

Nvidia vs. ATI (now AMD)

The video card makers Nvidia and ATI have been fighting each other for graphics supremacy for a long time, and many of their users got carried along into endless discussions about performance, features and visual quality.


Pirates vs. the Media industry

This battle is fought on all levels, including in court. Pirates (a.k.a. illegal file sharers) argue that the media industry needs to shape up and offer content in more modern, convenient and affordable ways. The media industry and its followers on the other hand argue the absolute right of the copyright holders.

Can’t we just join hands and live happily together?

One would think that these groups could live together and accept each others’ choices and opinions, and keep discussions on a more intellectual level, but this seems to be a utopia.

After all, we are talking about groups of people that often have very strong feelings about the technological choices they have made. It’s like politics and religion, but with the difference that the latter ones start real wars and we haven’t seen any Mac fans preparing to storm Redmond (yet). Perhaps they did release a cougar on Microsoft’s grounds, though . . . 😉

Did we miss any famous flame wars? Let us know in the comments!


  1. Actually it’s “Pirates vs. Ninjas”, not “Pirates vs. the Media industry”.

    Apart from that it’s a nice article that brings back lots of memories 🙂

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