Microsoft is intent on shipping Windows 8 as is despite all the criticism, so it's time to see if OS X can truly take its place
With the final version of Windows 8 now complete, how does Microsoft's great hope for reinventing itself for the post-PC world compare to Apple's new flagship? The short answer: not well. But lest you think that it's a simple case of sainted perfection versus preordained disaster -- the peanut gallery's running themes for Apple and Microsoft, respectively -- think again. OS X Mountain Lion has some unwelcome flaws, whereas Windows 8 has some virtuous aspects.
My colleague Woody Leonhard has reviewed the final version of Windows 8, and I encourage you to read his take to understand the nuances of Microsoft's tablet/desktop hybrid OS. I've detailed the many capabilities in OS X Mountain Lion, which I also urge you to check out. Here, I highlight the key differences, strengths, and weaknesses of the two OSes, both of which I've been using since their first betas were released, organized by the InfoWorld Test Center's key scoring categories for desktop operating systems.
[ For tips and tools for managing an enterprise Mac fleet, download InfoWorld's free "Business Mac" Deep Dive PDF special report today. | Windows 8 is here. InfoWorld can help you get ready with the Windows 8 Deep Dive PDF special report. ]
Windows 8: 6
OS X Mountain Lion: 9
Apple defined the graphical user interface as we know it today, and despite 28 years of changes, the core metaphors remain unchanged. That consistency makes it easy to use each new version of OS X, and Mountain Lion is no exception.
Yet the OS has expanded to support touch gestures in a very natural way, via touch mice and touchpads. Also, Apple's slew of helper utilities -- such as the Quick Look preview facility, the new Notification Center, the new sharing capabilities, and the Spotlight search tool -- do what Apple does best: offer sophisticated capabilities that users can discover as needed, rather than face a steep learning curve to get started. The Dock and the persistent menu bar also simplify app access, while the full-screen mode introduced in OS X Lion lets users stay focused when they want to be, yet have quick access to the rest of the OS as desired.
However, OS X Mountain Lion has UI flaws that undercut the superb ease-of-use. Apple has been monkeying with its application file services since OS X Lion, so there are now three distinct UIs and services for saving files: one for traditional apps, one for Versions-enabled apps, and now one for iCloud Documents-compatible apps. It's confusing. The misguided removal of Save As in Versions-enabled apps in OS X Lion is an example of misguided arrogance, and even though it's back in OS X Mountain Lion, it's available only if you know to hold the Option key when using the File menu.
Ease of use (25.0%)
Overall Score (100%)
|Microsoft Windows 8||10.0||7.0||9.0||6.0||9.0||6.0|
|Apple OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion||8.0||9.0||7.0||9.0||9.0||9.0|
Though they get a lot of coverage in the press, these smartphones should not be on your list when it's...
Supreme Court's decision is bad news for developers targeting the U.S. market, who will now have to...
The transition from command line to line-of-command requires a new mind-set -- and a thick skin
Windows diehards take note: Win10 is more than a misguided mash-up of Win7 and Win8
Windows 10 isn't all Cortana and the Start menu, you know. Follow the ninjacat to find the best stuff...
Windows 10 is what Windows 8 should have been, but it has too many rough edges to attract Windows 7...
In the wake of the OPM data breach, another grim reminder of the folly of hobbling encryption