Deathmatch: Windows 8 vs. OS X Mountain Lion
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 placeFollow @MobileGalen
Windows 8: 9
OS X Mountain Lion: 7
If you're willing to spend the money, you can manage Windows 8 PCs every which way from Sunday using tools such as Microsoft's System Center. Remote installation, policy enforcement, application monitoring, software updating, and so forth are all available.
OS X Mountain Lion provides similar capabilities through its use of managed client profiles -- enforcing use of disk encryption is a new capability in this version -- through OS X Server. Alternatively, they're available from a third-party tool such as those from Quest Software that plug into System Center or via MDM tools, including from the likes of AirWatch and MobileIron. But the degree of control available to Windows admins -- as well as the number of tools to exert that control -- is greater than is available for OS X admins.
Windows 8: 9
OS X Mountain Lion: 9
With nearly every computer these days connected to the Internet, security is a big focus, including both application security and data security. Windows has been a malware magnet for years, and antivirus software has been only partially effective in protecting PCs. Macs have been immune from most attacks, but in the last year, the Mac has seen a handful of high-profile Trojan attacks through plug-in technologies such as Oracle Java and Adobe Flash.
So it's no surprise that Microsoft includes its Windows Defender antimalware app in Windows 8 and Apple has included antimalware detection in OS X Mountain Lion, with daily checks to update signatures and remove known malware. Windows' registry does make it harder to truly eliminate malware than Apple's approach of relying on discrete files and folders that can simply be deleted if found to be harmful. But there are more tools available to monitor and protect Windows, commensurate to its greater risk.
Both OSes' boot loaders include antimalware detection, and OS X has a password-protected firmware option to prevent startup from external disks; users can't bypass the startup password by opting for their own disk. (One of OS X's handy features is that you can boot a Mac from external disks and network volumes easily, which is great for testing and shared environments.)
Beyond such application security, both OSes support FIPS 140-2 cryptographic encryption (new to Mountain Lion and requiring an additional installation). Both OSes provide on-disk encryption, as well, though Microsoft's BitLocker requires a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip to implement it fully, and few PCs have such a chip. Thus, enabling disk encryption is easier in OS X.
Also easier in OS X is data security, thanks to the included Time Machine backup program. With Time Machine, it's dead simple to back up a Mac, and the backups can be encrypted and (new to OS X Mountain Lion) even rotated among multiple disks. System restoration is also exceedingly easy, with no driver installation or command-line setup involved.
Windows 8 does introduce File History, which backs up data files in certain locations to your choice of your startup disk, an external disk, or Microsoft's SkyDrive cloud storage service. Like Time Machine, File History keeps incremental versions of these files so that you can roll back to a previous point in time, but unlike Time Machine, it can't restore your whole PC in case of a crash or simply to transfer your environment to a new machine.