Microsoft Windows and Apple OS X are the world’s most popular consumer desktop operating systems. If you are using a Laptop or Desktop, there is a good chance you are using either the baby of Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. Tablets extend into an entirely different realm, which we will be sure to discuss another day, but today, we are looking at the top ten ideas that each operating system can learn from each other.
Contrary to popular troll belief – Mac users and Windows users can live side by side in peace. In addition, the moment one understands that each operating system is quite good and can contribute to better future technology is when one transcends the idea of fanboyism. So here we go, keep an open mind as we talk about the top ideas each operating system can learn from each other.
Top Five Ideas Mac can learn from Windows
Improved window management
For some unknown reason, what Apple claims to be the “world’s most advanced operating system” is quite frankly the worst when it comes to window management. While using Microsoft latest’s operating system, Windows 8.1, users can quickly snap apps on the desktop or in full-screen mode.
When working on a laptop, it can be very beneficial to see two windows side-by-side. With Windows, it is a matter of dragging the desired Window to the edge of the screen to have it snap-in and take up 50% of the available space. Windows 10 improves upon this idea by allowing Windows to intelligently snap any ratio needed.
However, if you are using a Mac, you will find yourself unable to easily sort windows. Snapping windows isn’t just where Mac OS X window management falls short; it isn’t always the easiest of tasks to get individual windows to the needed size. The number of popular apps in Apple’s App Store that allow users to snap their windows “as in Microsoft Windows” heavily supports this idea.
Less work for needed information
When booting up Windows 8.1, you are instantly provided with a screen of popular information. Your mail, your weather, your Facebook, your Twitter, your news – everything is displayed via live tiles. One must only glance quickly to see a plethora of information. Mac OS X Yosemite has no such ability.
Longtime Mac users might note that there is always “Dashboard”, a unique desktop-like overlay that can display a number of widgets pertaining to news, weather, and more. However, it is no secret that Apple is aware how unpopular the widget dashboard solution is for consumers. By default, in OS X Yosemite, it is completely turned off.
Mac needs to find a quick way to deliver information to its users. The new notification system may be the solution, but more news sources have to develop Max OS X applications to support the cause before it becomes useful.
Default selection for popular file types
If your file type isn’t popular then, you are just going to need to deal with it. Popular Microsoft Office alternative, OpenOffice, learned this idea a long time ago. People aren’t downloading OpenOffice to create proprietary OpenOffice files; they are using it as a solution for Microsoft Office. As a result, you can easily set OpenOffice to save files in the default Microsoft Office format.
This is something Apple is yet to understand with their iWork office solution. Including iWork might be a decent alternative for those who don’t’ wish to pay an addition fee for Microsoft Office, but Apple’s refusal to make it easy to save as an Office file make the proposition difficult.
You can save as an Office File, but it will involve saving the file as an iWork file first, then using a separate menu system to export the file into your desired format. We know you want to earn some of the Office back, Apple, so please design your OS X software with user’s needs in mind. A solution I might otherwise touch, I stay far away.
Place focus on security out of the box
In the computer world, running around with your PC and no security software is the equivalent of asking to be shot dead on the street. Many people will proudly announce that Mac OS X does not have any security threats to worry about – in fact, OS X ships with the Firewall off by default.
While OS X does have a much lower number of malicious software looking to attack, protection is always a good idea for those “just in case” moments. In addition, Apple explains that their Firewall is off by default because their systems contain fewer open ports that would be subject to attack. Sadly, this doesn’t take into account the numerous pieces of third party applications people download and what they could be doing to the system.
We will bring this idea home by pointing out that Apple had released a statement advising Mac OS X users to download antivirus software, but quickly pulled it. Is Apple too concerned with their image to think about user security?
Playing more friendly with email protocols
When you boot up your Windows PC, you know that whichever email system you throw at it will work. Have Outlook.com, iCloud, Yahoo!, Gmail, or even AIM? No matter what client you decide to choose, Window’s built-in email, people, and contacts will be able to tackle the challenge. Heck, if you have your own email address domain, chances are you will still be able to set up everything without a single hitch.
Mac OS X has a bit to learn, as once again it stumbles a bit when it comes to compatibility. Apple users are quick to blame the system Microsoft chose to use with Outlook.com, but Microsoft users will quickly tell you it offers advantages in security and efficiency over older protocols.
All we would like to see is more concentration on the different services that make up our lives. After all, isn’t Apple’s mantra, “it just works”?
Top Five Ideas Windows can learn from Mac
Before many of your start getting out your torches and preaching how much better Windows is than Mac OS X, let’s talk a bit about how Microsoft can learn from Apple. After all, no operating system is perfect, and competition is what makes companies better year after year.
Better virtual desktop management
Microsoft is finally bringing virtual desktop support to Windows 10. A number of different platforms had supported virtual desktops, including the almost always overlooked Linux. Microsoft experimented with an add-on for Windows XP, but it never quite worked.
However, the question will be to see if Microsoft learns anything from Mac OS X in Windows 10. The Mac operating system provides the best use of virtual desktops I have yet to see. Using simple touchpad gestures and key commands, one can create new desktops, delete old desktops, or switch between their favorites.
It has taken Microsoft a while to understand that virtual desktops are a feature people do want to have available. So far, in the Windows 10 preview, I have to be impressed by Microsoft’s implementation – it is functional, but not the most efficient. However, let us not judge unreleased software. The point here is to see if the Windows 10 can catch-up to Mac OSX multitasking.
Improved ecosystem compatibility
I don’t think any of needs Microsoft’s Satya Nadella getting up on stage and telling us about “one Microsoft” a single time more than he already has mentioned. Microsoft has shown us time after time that they will be unifying their Windows 10 desktop operating system with Xbox One and Windows 10 for smartphones. We see a lot in store for the future, but not the features we have been patiently waiting to see arrive.
Windows 10 will bring the ability to stream video games from your Xbox One console to your PC. In addition, a unified app store experience is in progress – although it has a far way to continue. Apple, on the other side of the field, has already figured out what is most important and have implemented it perfectly.
We will skip over Apple’s unified app store for now because everyone already knows about it, but yes, it is something that Microsoft has to work on improving. However, we want to talk about Apple’s new feature in Mac OS X Yosemite – Handoff.
Handoff is an incredible piece of software that links an Apple user’s iPad, iPod, Mac, and iPhone, together into one seamless experience. If you receive a call on your phone, it is automatically pushed to your other devices – the same goes for text messages and iMessages.
If you decide to open the contacts application on your iPhone, it will automatically show up on the side of your Mac dock, where you can then take over. This is the sort of integration we want to see with Microsoft products. Xbox One streaming is insanely awesome, but Microsoft truly needs to create an experience where all devices talk to each other – this is the most important lesson to learn from Apple.
Quickly previewing a document
This isn’t a major feature, but something that brings together OS X, and it would be nice to see it make its way into Windows. If you have a file, whether it is a word document, pdf document, jpeg image or video, you can quickly view it by tapping the space bar. Mac OS X opens a simplified viewer for quickly browsing documents.
This function eliminates the need to start up Word or Photoshop or Adobe reader to check out a file type – with Mac OS X a preview is a tap away. It would be very helpful to see Windows implement something similar.
Unified touchpad gestures
When it comes to touchpad gestures, Microsoft has a few of them – or at least they did. Windows 8 was stuffed full of touchpad swipes to access different parts of the system. The problem is that most touchpad gestures are left up to OEMs like Lenovo, Dell, and HP to decide.
The fact that Apple manufactures their own hardware and software help keep everything organized, but it would be nice if Microsoft would establish their gestures from the get-go. It can be quite annoying to go between different Windows machines only to find that going back a page is a two-finger swipe on one machine, a three finger swipe on another, and a four finger swipe on the last.
We would love to see Microsoft take a bit more control when it comes to the touchpad experience, after all, the touchpad is a major part of every laptop that users interact with every day – so make it noticeable. P.S. – Giving OEMs a minimum touchpad size wouldn’t be a bad idea… some of them are truly made for ants.
Presentation does count
Windows users love to say that the Mac OS is all show and no substance. “Oh, Apple spends more time on design than functionality,” can be a typical statement from a Microsoft fanboy. However, Mac OS X not only looks sexy, but also functions.
With our previews of Windows 10, we have seen some great animations from Microsoft; the operating system flows smoothing and is a blast to use. Microsoft has tried “Windows Aero” in the past and many of design solutions, but sometimes it feels that Microsoft through presentation together at the last minute.
Windows 10 looks like it is heading in a new direction though, so we are quite excited!
So there you go, five ideas that Mac can learn from Windows and five ideas that Windows can learn from Mac. If you feel the need to make war in the comments below, just remember that it is an operating system and knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each is what makes them both betterFurther reading: Apple, Mac, Mac OS X, Microsoft, Operating System, PC, Windows 10, Windows 8