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OS X Leopard vs Windows Vista: Fight!! (Part 2)

November 16, 2007 8 comments

Hopefully you had a chance to see the first half of this piece which I showed off some of the visual differences of Apple’s newly released operating system and Microsoft’s recent OS release, Windows Vista. I now want to take a look at some of the features both operating systems have and the different ways they are implemented.

Disclaimer: I have been unable to find a screen grab tool for Windows that allows me to set a timed exposure so I have been unable to grab screens of Flip 3D or the Alt+Tab program selector. If you know of one, please let me know and I will edit this post ASAP.

FLIP 3D and Expose:

Flip 3D, found in Windows Vista, is a really interesting concept but I just don’t think it feels right. It’s more of an offset rolodex than a 3D representation of the windows you have open. It runs fairly smoothly and mapping it to the Ctrl+Tab function was a smart idea on Microsoft’s part. Including the desktop in Flip 3D was also a really smart idea to let you easily get back to it without having to minimize windows or click the “show desktop” icon in quicklaunch if you have it enabled.

Expose

Above is Apple’s expose, which actually isn’t new at all to OS X and can be found in previous generations and it has remained relatively unchanged in Leopard. Expose can be activated by a keystroke, a mapped button on the mouse, or through the use of “hot corners.” There are two expose activations: one is for ALL windows and another is for only the windows within a particular program like you have multiple Firefox windows open. Once activated you simply hover your mouse over the window you like and click it. Expose then sweeps aside and the window you clicked becomes the main window. Really smooth and you can have as many windows as you want on the screen, they will just be smaller which is something you don’t have to worry about in Flip 3D.

I also want to talk about Apple’s Cmd+tab feature which is the same function as Windows Alt+Tab.

CMD Tab

People who love this feature in Windows, you have to tip your hat to Apple on this one since it is an Apple invention. However, I do like the windows version better because Apple only lets you select programs whereas the Windows version cycles through ALL available windows. Apple uses expose to cover this feature. If you’re anything like me, however, you’ve become good at counting how mane “tabs” until the next window and can do it without looking.

FILE MANAGEMENT

I already talked about the look of file icons between the two operating systems and felt the folder look in Leopard was a step backwards. Granted the icons are all uniform, but they don’t pop like the ones on Vista. Let’s take a look at how each OS enables you to browse the files.

Windows Vista

Window

Even though I don’t have pictures of all the settings, nothing has really changed from XP to Vista except for live thumbnails which is a VERY welcome change instead of the standard .doc icon or picture icon. But you still have list, details, icons, thumbnails etc. The browser on the left hand side is also much more welcome than the one in XP. Cleaner and easier to get where you want.

OS X Leopard

With Leopard, Apple took a page from the iTunes book and added Coverflow. Some have even said Leopard should have been called OS X iTunes since most of the visual changes are from iTunes.

Coverflow

Just like Coverflow in iTunes allows you to see album art for music, in the Finder it allows you to see live details of the file or folder you are on. Just browse left and right and the icons rotate in that direction. If you want to take a close look at the file you are on without having to open the program just hit spacebar to activate Quicklook.

Quicklook

Quicklook brings the file to the foreground of your desktop and allows you to browse it without even having to open the program it was created in. The address book is a poor example but if this were a .pdf or a word document, I could browse and read the file without having to open Preview or a text editor. Thanks to this feature. I have found papers I wrote in college with an entire 2 sentences on them that were just wasting space.

WIRELESS AND NETWORKING

Both OS X and Windows support wireless Internet and Bluetooth. It would be crazy not to in this day and age. It’s just a matter of how easy it is to manually set up these devices. Both operating systems picked up my wireless router fairly easily, but what if I need to manually get into the device properties.

Windows Vista

Wireless

Even though a lot of the settings are easier to configure than before, there is still the feel and look of “you’re connected and you really shouldn’t be messing with this.” The diagram at the top is a nice touch as a way to explain the flow of information, but if it weren’t for Leopard, I wouldn’t complain about this, but all you get is wireless options in this window.

Bluetooth

Bluetooth preferences in Vista still have that “device manager” look to them. If you’ve never messed around with device manager, I doubt you’re going to know you’re way around this window either.

OS X Leopard

NetworkingPref

Previously, with OS X 10.4 Tiger, you only had access to Internet options through Ethernet and Ariport. With Leopard, everything is right where you need it. Open up Network preferences and you’re there and it even includes FireWire with the option to add other devices and I assume USB would be one of them.

BlueToothPref

While there is still a little to be desired with the Bluetooth setup in Leopard, it’s light years beyond what Tiger did. For Leopard all you have to do is make sure your Bluetooth is turned on for your device and your computer and just click “Set Up New Device,” and you’re set.

Note: Even though it will recognize the iPhone, there is still no ability to use the iPhone to control the computer for front row, iTunes or anything. I haven’t tried it in Windows, but I doubt there is much use in Vista either.

A SOLO FEATURE OF VISTA

I cannot stand desktop clutter. I want as few things as possible on my desktop which is one of the reasons I switched to Apple. Even though the clutter sucked, it was much easier to use as program navigation than the Start menu. As I stated, I primarily installed Vista so I could game and I thoroughly like the way games are enabled in the start menu. Everything gets its only little neat window.

Games

And thanks to the system rating, I now want a faster HD because it’s the only thing keeping me from a 5.9. Otherwise, all my games are within a click away. (If you have any game suggestions by the way let me know). I suppose with Leopard, I could create a stack for my games, but there aren’t a slew of games for Mac yet so as long as Aspyr keeps screwing up.

That just about covered everything I wanted to show you between the two operating systems. I firmly believe it would be a hands down win for Leopard if it weren’t for the lack of gaming. However, in the OS shootout, OS X Leopard does come out on top. Both operating systems have a lot in store for them in the future but the future is sooner for Leopard then Vista.

A Final Note: Leopard 10.5.1 has been released for update and Vista SP1 beta has been previewed.