OS X vs. Windows


I don’t know why but I feel like writing about this subject…

I use both operating systems on a daily basis. I’ve used older versions of Mac OS and Windows in addition to Linux and others. My opinion (which is mostly what any blog really is about) is that each operating system is ideally suited for specific needs.

The Number One advantage to using a Windows based operating system is it’s third-party support for software and hardware. The wide variety offers a range of prices for any type of component.

Mac OS had very little third-party software support. The transition to OS X, a UNIX based system has provided end-users with a vast array of open source software projects that matured years ago but only recently became available to OS X users. Most of the software I use on my G4 is free/open source with a few commercial apps here and there. Unless you’re in a corporate environment and need commercial apps to match supported software standards for Windows, you’ll find a program is available for every need.

The hardware support is still lacking in OS X. Almost every computer peripheral or add-on card available on the market come with Windows drivers. Relatively few of these include OS X (or Linux) native drivers. Since OS X is based on UNIX there is a better chance that one might be able to make something work if it works in Linux (but not natively in OS X).

Windows is a system resource hog. Doubling the processor speed and memory does not seem to effectively double the overall computer performance. Sure, the windows may animate smoother but the programs themselves don’t seem to run much faster. In general, I don’t notice much of a difference between a 1.4 GHz system and a 2.8 GHz (there are differences, but I’m speaking of vast improvements).

OS X does seem to improve performance noticeably when going from a G3 to a G4 or a G4 to a G5. However, I suppose that isn’t a very good comparison as I don’t know the equivalent in the Intel world.

OS X has a simpler interface, which belies the UNIX based power behind it. It’s well suited for “power users” who want to control everything and those who only want to check their e-mail and make videos but don’t want to know what’s going on beneath the GUI.

Windows has many scattered files and the registry. Anybody who wants to keep one’s Windows XP system healthy must be a “power users” regardless of how one wants to actually use the system. The security issues with Windows are well known so I won’t waste time other than to state that I’ve never had to remove a virus or spyware/adware from my OS X system (yet), but I know of many different ways to do the same for Windows.

On the other hand, OS X has a smaller market share and requires a more savvy programmer to get through the UNIX based security. While the outer shell of the OS is more difficult to crack than Windows, once root access is gained you might as well throw some thermite on the system and get it over with.

Is one really better than the other?

That’s a personal decision. At the moment I have few usability and security problems with OS X than I have with Windows. Lately, I’ve preferred a system that does exactly what I want it to do and nothing more and that’s what I get with OS X. Windows tends to go out of its way to accomplish a given task. My dad blogs about his OS X exploits and has plenty of experience with perhipherals and software that don’t work as intended in OS X.

Both operating systems could use a number of improvements. I still cannot work as quickly in OS X as I can in Windows. There’s just something cluncky about the GUI. In OS X I find myself double-clicking to get one click on a target.

I think the problem with Windows isn’t the security itself as much as it has a “bloated code” feel to it. Why can’t the next version of Windows take less hard drive space than the previous one? Windows 95/98 required around 65-100 MBs. Windows XP requires somewhere near 1 GB. Why?

Apple products are often referred to as being taylored for artists/graphic designers. This seems very true, but it’s not because artists as a whole are less technical minded than anyone else. Is the grandmother using a Windows XP system to check her e-mail more capable of using a computer than the graphic artist? Windows XP feels like it was developed by the same people who created Jurassic Park in the movie of the same title and reminds me of the following quote from the film, “Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Windows has always had a good GUI. But a GUI is just a “look and feel” feature that doesn’t really demonstrate the efficiency and power of the operating system is. One thing that amazes me is the lack of certain built-in features in Windows compared to OS X. OS X has the built-in ability to create encrypted disk volumes and a proper backup utility. Windows XP generally has only a half-assed effort in regard to useful utilities. I find it strange that a company that loves to bundle it’s software with the OS includes utilities that seem to be meant to encourage us to purchase someone else’s commercial product to do these tasks properly.

I remember a video that was a spoof on the Apple “Switch” television campaign. It was cleaver and funny but made fun of an OS X GUI feature that actually has a counterpart in Windows XP that is just as annoying. Yes, when a program such as Software Updates “wants” my attention the icon will hop up and down in the dock and it is very annoying. I think there’s a setting to shut that off. In Windows XP if I open a Web page or have a chat session and I go to another window the darn thing will flash when updated, which I find just as annoying and I don’t know how to shut that off without third-party software.

I have yet to see an OS that is really better than another. Most are better suited for certain tasks and certain niches but none are perfect for every situation.

So to some of you I ask that you just stop griping about the “PC vs. Apple” battle. For one thing, you’ll have to redefine your use of “PC” because if you meant Intel based systems you’ve probably got a real headache now. Of course, “PC” stands for “Personal Computer” which is OS independant anyway, but then again I’m not going to try to convince everyone to say “PC” or “computer” instead of “CPU”…It’s been my experience that most people who claim any operating system to be better than another, have not actually used another on a regular basis.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.