Windows 7 versus Mac OS X: Operating System War

By Partho, Gaea News Network
Wednesday, October 21, 2009

win7vsmacLike the new Snow Leopard operating system released in August by Microsoft’s archrival, Apple, Windows 7 is much more of an evolutionary than a revolutionary product.

These were the lines from Wall Street Journal technology columnist Walt Mossberg. The final countdown for Microsoft’s Windows 7 release has started ticking as the Redmond giant prepares to regain its stronghold over the operating system arena after Visaster. Windows 7 was mainly aimed at a fixing the hassles with bug prone Vista and is increasingly based on customer feedback. However, packed with sophisticated features and tweaks the new operating system owns some impressive features to take on its rival Operating Systems. Well, we all know Windows versus Mac is a worn out issue afterall, but the arrival of Windows 7 paves the way for new cotton-pickings. With no singular opinion over which OS wins the game - Mac or PC, there’s much to be said and done. After picking up the cons with Windows 7, we decided to go for a comparison - Windows 7 versus Mac OS X.

Starting from the scratch

What do find when immediately after starting with Windows 7 and Mac OS X? Mac offers you instant access to your drives and application while Windows 7 starts up with almost nothing handy. That means in Windows 7 you need to make great effort to get going.

Better windows management

Mac has the Dock and Windows offers the taskbar. Click and hold the Dock icon for any open application to view all open windows for that application. Unlike the previous version of OS X, in Snow Leopard the windows are now represented by a thumbnail in Expose. Windows 7 allows you to mouse over an app to get a series of small thumbnails. It also offers a full screen visualization.

Explorer versus Finder

The default interface for dealing with files for both Windows 7 and Mac OS X Leopard are strikingly similar. Both Finder and Windows Explorer are located on the upper-right corner and offer pretty much the same features except a like Finder’s Sidebar and Places, and the Windows 7’s Libraries. Well, it’s a tie.

Quick Look wins over Windows file preview

Finder’s provides an exceptionally handy option for Leopard. Select a file, tap the keyboard and bang you can access the contents of any file - Word document, PDF, or image. Windows 7 has an equally handy finder in Alt+P keyboard combination to preview the contents of a file in an embedded panel inside the Explorer interface. However, the preview feature in Windows 7 doesn’t support as many filetypes as Quick Look and lacks Quick Look’s facilities of separate window resizing and paging capabilities.

Apart from Quick Look and Cover Flow Snow Leopard adds inline preview to the Finder’s icon view. Viewing folders using 64-by-64 pixel icons or larger, mousing over your files will display preview and playback controls. In case you mouse over an audio or video file, you would get a play button. Moving your mouse over a Word doc, a PowerPoint presentation, or PDF in the common file formats you would get forward and back arrows for paging through a document.

Searching Options

Windows 7 supports complex file searches involving multiple local, external and network drives. It offers additional search field that now displays frequently used keywords. However, these features are already in built-in Leopard’s Spotlight. Further, it can also search content on other computers on the network or even over the Internet via Back to My Mac feature. What’s more Spotlight offers advanced Boolean searches, and Smart search folders that automatically updates as the content changes.

Windows System Tray Versus Mac Menu Bar

Mac menu bar seems odd fixed to the top of the screen with no easy options to hide it. Clearly, the default time and date isn’t that informative. On the other hand, Windows 7 offers an one-click full calender. It also allows the ability to easily customize what icons live there in one place. Windows 7 goes a step ahead in this.

Smoother Backup

Windows 7 introduces no significant changes in its built-in back-up drive, it still retains the conventional process to make an OS system image. The entire business of using it is quite complicated. Mac’s Time Machine couldn’t have been more intuitive and user-friendly and it’s quite easy to restore the interface.

System-wide Notification

Windows 7 overwhelms Mac OS X in two features first the ability to drag and drop tray icons to the desktop and the way notification can be handled. There’s a new notification center - Action Center, which allows you to configure eight global or individual settings for messages and their appearance. Further, you can block any message and check all message in the Action Center when you feel like. Snow Leopard lacks a system-wide notification feature for applications. Apple has a lesson to learn from Microsoft on this.

Aero Peek versus Expose

WIndows 7’s Aero Peek feature requests all applauds for its beautiful thumbnail previewing and window clearing and docking. Mac OS X’s Expose is nowhere near the Aero Peek

Network features

Windows 7 encloses a range of enticing new network features that has been designed to simplify the painful process of connecting to the network and dealing with its settings. What’s interesting devices working in Windows 7 like printers can join a network with a single click and settings. and carried over automatically. Any user can access content on networked devices and stream content from other networked devices to any device in the network when in a Home Group. There is also a new Device Stage feature that lists all device-specific features that includes manuals. Snow Leopard shows no networking competencies, although networking is one of the strong features in Apple.


For a verdict we can look to the comments of Mossberg

In recent years, I, like many other reviewers, have argued that Apple’s Mac OS X operating system is much better than Windows. That’s no longer true. I still give the Mac OS a slight edge because it has a much easier and cheaper upgrade path; more built-in software programs; and far less vulnerability to viruses and other malicious software, which are overwhelmingly built to run on Windows.

Now, however, it’s much more of a toss-up between the two rivals. Windows 7 beats the Mac OS in some areas, such as better previews and navigation right from the taskbar, easier organization of open windows on the desktopand [sic] touch-screen capabilities. So Apple will have to scramble now that the gift of aflawed [sic] Vista has been replaced with a reliable, elegant version of Windows.


Blue Montoya
October 21, 2009: 6:46 pm

Windows 7 will definitely be much better than Vista, which was very disappointing when it came out.

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