Now that we know Windows 7 will go on sale October 22nd and the feature-complete release candidate is available as a free download, it’s time to put it through its paces: as compared to the current state of the Mac.
Oh, I know: the Mac versus PC debate is so played out. Perhaps, but dumb commercials aside, if you’re deciding between buying a Mac or a PC in the coming months, it helps to know what you’re getting from one or the other. I use both a Mac and a PC every day of the week, and both systems have their strong and weak points.
Note that I’m basing my observations on the Windows 7 Ultimate Release Candidate 1 (Build 7100) and Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.7. You could argue that I really should be comparing Windows 7 to the upcoming Snow Leopard, and you’d be right. If I had a copy of Snow Leopard to run I’d do that. Alas. As always, take all comments salted with a few grains of “this is all one person’s opinion” and “what I should get depends on what I need.” Also, remember to breathe. Let’s do this.
Mac Finder versus Windows Explorer—A Draw
I’ve always thought that the default interface for dealing with files in every major operating system could improve, and given both Windows 7 and Mac OS X Leopard, I still feel that way. Both Finder and Windows Explorer offer pretty much the same features, with a few exceptions (like Finder’s Sidebar and Places, and now Windows 7’s Libraries). Still, I want a tabbed interface and Quicksilver-y file manipulation built into my OS, and neither Explorer or Finder offers that. Since I’m pretty “meh” on both of these, we’re calling this one a draw.
Leopard’s Quick Look versus Windows File Preview—Winner: Quick Look
Windows Taskbar versus Mac Dock—Winner: Windows 7 Taskbar
Windows System Tray vs Mac Menu Bar—Winner: Windows 7 System Tray
Leopard’s Time Machine vs Windows Backup—Winner: Leopard’s Time Machine
Windows 7 Aero Peek versus ? (Not Quick Look or Stacks)—Winner: Aero Peek
We Could Go On…
We’ve hit on the most obvious biggies already, but the list of items one could compare between Windows 7 and Leopard goes on. There’s Safari 4 versus Internet Explorer 8, Windows Media Player 12 versus iTunes/Front Row, Leopard’s Boot Camp versus Windows 7 XP Mode (though that’s not exactly apples to apples), Windows User Account Control versus Leopard’s user security, and Windows Search versus Spotlight. Also, both operating systems boast more features that don’t have direct parallels, like Leopard’s extra utilities (e.g. Preview and iChat), Spaces, and Windows 7’s themes, built-in software uninstaller, games, and multi-touch support. Of course, no Mac versus Windows article would be complete without mentioning that more games and viruses exist for Windows than for Mac.
Time to discuss in the comments, where I present you with a challenge: try to make an intelligent remark that doesn’t include the suggestion to “upgrade” to Linux, and doesn’t draw a conclusion about either operating system without a reasoned argument or supporting facts. Can we do it? Let’s try! Post your thoughts in the comments.
Gina Trapani, Lifehacker’s founding editor, is confident in this community’s abilit to have a productive Mac versus Windows discussion. Her feature Smarterware appears every week on Lifehacker.