The UI challenge: Windows 7 vs Mac OS X

By , InfoWorld |  Operating Systems, Mac OS X, slideshow

Side by side:which is better?

The next 10 slides compare Windows 7 and Mac OS X Leopard user interfaces, noting which does a better job at what. Each slide shows the one I consider to be the winner; you can see the "loser" by clicking the hyperlink within the text description, which opens a separate window so you can see them side by side.

Related Links: A Mac user's take on the Windows 7 UI

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Starting up: Windows 7 is too spare

The Mac gives you immediate access to your drives and applications, while leaving the Desktop open, when you first start (see screen at left). By comparison, Windows 7 starts up with almost nothing, which makes you work harder to get going (click here for the screen).

Related Links: A Mac user's take on the Windows 7 UI

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File window: Mac OS provides more

The Mac's folders provide more controls over file manipulation than does Windows 7, with greater configurability. And the Mac's ability to search by user-defined criteria at any time is unmatched (see image at left). By comparison, Windows 7 provides few search options, and only before you start a search (click here for the screen).

Related Links: A Mac user's take on the Windows 7 UI

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Taskbar: Slightly more flexible on the Mac

The Mac's Dock provides easy access to your applications and open files, as well as to other resources (see image at left). It previews all open content. The Windows 7 taskbar is improved, with previews of running apps' contents now added (but not functioning in my beta); click here for the screen. But it can't show both folders' file lists and apps' content previews simultaneously, as the Mac can.

Related Links: A Mac user's take on the Windows 7 UI

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Gadgets: Windows 7 integrates better

Both Apple and Microsoft have made lightweight gadgets part of their OSes in recent years, and they work comparably. But Windows 7 lets gadgets coexist with other onscreen apps and windows (see image at left). Mac gadgets, by contrast, take up the whole screen and disappear as soon as you open anything else (click here for the screen).

Related Links: A Mac user's take on the Windows 7 UI

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Control panels: Mac OS is simpler

The System Preference application makes it easy to find, use, and switch among control panels, keeping everything organized (see image at left). Windows 7's control panels open lots of windows, cluttering your screen fast (click here for the screen).

Related Links: A Mac user's take on the Windows 7 UI

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Folder actions: Windows 7 gives more control

When you're in an app saving or opening a file, it's easy to rename, add, or otherwise do file-level work within the app in Windows 7 (see image at left). Not so in Mac OS, where you must close the dialog boxes and switch to the Finder for most such actions (click here for the screen).


Related Links: A Mac user's take on the Windows 7 UI

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Network management: Windows 7 is more visual

Figuring out network status can be a bear, and Windows 7's new UI provides good visual feedback (see image at left). The Mac OS X uses simple status indicators but no overall view of the network connections (click here for the screen).

Related Links: A Mac user's take on the Windows 7 UI

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Backup: Mac OS X wins big

Backing up data should be trivial, and the Mac's Time Machine makes backups and restores amazingly easy (see image at left). Windows 7 uses a limited utility that has a command-line feel to it that few people are likely to use (click here for the screen).

Related Links: A Mac user's take on the Windows 7 UI

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File sharing: Mac makes it easier

File sharing requires setting multiple levels of permissions, which the Mac OS X presents in a straightforward, unified UI (see image at left). By contrast, Windows 7 separates its controls in two places, with lots of subdialog boxes to wander through (click here for the screen).

Related Links: A Mac user's take on the Windows 7 UI

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Uninstall: The Mac OS forfeits

Windows 7 provides an uninstall utility for all your apps, for easy system management (see image at left). The Mac OS has no such facility, and most apps don't provide their own uninstallers, so it's easy to end up with lots of deadwood app files on your Mac.

Related Links: A Mac user's take on the Windows 7 UI

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