Apple Archive

The Good, the Bad, and the Intrusive

Thoughts on Windows and the Mac OSes

- 2002.07.05

While I'm sure many of my readers despise the Windows operating system, I would like to point out some of the things I like about it that may or may not be present in the Mac OS. I would also like to point out some of the things that I prefer in the Mac OS. In addition, I will mention some of the faults of both operating systems.

I really like the Start menu. While it is technically possible to create something like it using the Apple Menu, you have to manually add the applications that you want to appear in the Apple Menu. In Windows, the application's installer will almost always do it for you. The Start menu is just as customisable as the Apple menu in OS 7-9, as you can add application links, folders, and even a link that lets you browse your entire hard drive.

I also appreciate how fast the solid/active window dragging and resising is under Windows 95-XP (95 only had it if you installed the "Plus" package or had the "c" version), unlike Mac OS X, where it is still, in my opinion, way too slow. I don't think it's the hardware - if a 120 MHz Pentium tower has no problems with it, I don't see why a 400 MHz Power Macintosh G4 should.

It could be due to the interface, which is far more elegant on the Mac, and almost always has been (except for maybe Windows 3.0 vs. System 6, but I think I'm probably the only one that liked Windows 3.x). The colored bar at the top of a window in Windows is somewhat Windows close boxesannoying unless the window or application is in full screen mode. The x and other symbols don't blend in nicely with the window (the red, green, and yellow buttons not blending in with the titlebar is one of the few complaints I have about OS X).

The other thing I just don't get about the Windows interface is how the x and other symbols can somehow appear over the toolbar when a window in a fullscreen is maximised, but if the window is in normal mode, it appears below the toolbar. It just doesn't make sense to me.

Then there are things that don't make sense on the Mac. Why should I drag a disk or network folder to the Trash? I'm not trying to throw it away! I'm just done using it for now. Yes, I do know the reason behind it - but it needs to be changed, because it is extremely confusing for new users, which seems to be who Apple is trying to attract these days. OS X has improved this a bit by showing a small eject logo when you drag the disk or folder to the Trash, but you still have to know to drag it there first.

I like some of the other options in Windows, and how nicely things can be integrated into the OS. For example, the drivers for my video card work flawlessly in Windows 2000 Pro, installing a systray icon, a control panel, and even adding an additional button to the three at the top right of a window. But in the Mac OS, Apple ships drivers even better integrated, and third party manufacturers don't do too badly when trying to integrate their drivers into the OS.

The only OS to position my icons the way I want them by default is BeOS - I prefer to see my icons horizontally across the top or bottom of the screen. Windows puts them on the left, the Mac OS puts them on the right, and the only way to change that is to move them myself.

The other thing I really like about Windows is the Internet Explorer type interface for browsing your files, which first came out in an OEM version of Windows 95 for Compaq (and possibly other companies). I really like having those convenient buttons in the toolbar that let me instantly delete, move, cut, copy, and paste files. I appreciate even more both the forward and back buttons and the fact that new directories open within one window.

Mac OS X does this, and it does it pretty well. However, it is missing the back button, which I have gone up to click on in many occasions, only to find that it's not there. It would be nice if Apple included it.

So does this mean that I suddenly love Windows and hate the Mac? No. I like both operating systems to an extent, but I have learned not to take things too seriously.

Yes, I hate Windows XP. Not because of features, interface, or anything else like that. I hate it because of the registration scheme, the way Microsoft can obtain a list of DVDs, CDs, and MP3s that you listen to, and the way they can automatically update your software without your permission (well, technically you gave them your permission to update the software when you clicked "agree" the first time).

If I don't like something, I don't use it. Windows 2000, Mac OS 9, and Mac OS X all work fine and do most of what I want. When you use a computer, you want to get work done, not just spend time working on making the computer work.

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