Microsoft and Apple have been locked in a pitched battle since the early 1980s. Back in the early days of the personal computer, there were dozens of options to choose from – everything from the TRS-80 to Amstrad to IBM’s OS/2. But, by the early 1990s two operating systems emerged as the most popular – Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS. Both have undergone significant transformations, playing catch-up and leapfrog with each other. Here’s what I wish Apple would learn from Microsoft.
1 – Be more courageous
While it’s fair to say Microsoft has made some missteps along the path to Windows 10. – Windows ME and Windows Vista jump to mind – they have been courageous in trying new things.
After a decade of stability with Windows XP, we saw Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and then Windows 10 hit the market in rapid succession (I’ve used brain bleach to omit Vista as it was so terrible). For those who have been using PCs since the 1990s, Microsoft’s decision to ditch Program Manager and bring in the Start button was a bold move.
Getting rid of it in Windows 8 was also bold although as it turns out an error in judgement but they admitted the mistake and put the feature back.
In contrast, while there have been some great new features added to OS X and then macOS, the look and feel, from the Dock to the colour scheme have remained functional but boring.
2 – Touch everywhere
I use a variety of different devices and I find myself often, particularly with my MacBook Air, trying to tap or drag objects on the screen. This is an easy one for Apple to address.
Make macOS touchscreen friendly and give us some Macs that can take advantage.
3 – The start menu
I mentioned Microsoft’s journey in developing, ditching, bringing back and evolving the Start menu. There’s no real Mac equivalent other than adding the Applications folder to the Dock – a manual process. Even then, all you get is a grid or list of icons without an integrated search to find apps from the list.
4 – A better release strategy
There was a time when operating system releases were a Very. Big. Deal. That’s not the case anymore.
Microsoft’s move to pushing out two releases each year has required IT admins to change their approach to workstation management. But it also means fewer surprises as the changes aren’t as big.
And the ability for people to sign on and get preview versions of the biannual releases lets them try things out more easily.
Apple’s annual release seems to be geared around having something big to announced each year at WWDC.
5 – Cortana
Siri might have been one of the first voice-activated digital assistants but it has been overtaken. On the Macs I use, it adds very little value. But on Windows, it a very useful tool.
And Microsoft’s willingness to open it up to third parties is also a big plus.
A bonus item – look and feel
I didn’t have this in my top five but it was close. The only reason I tipped it out was because it’s a very subjective thing.
Windows 10 is a far more attractive operating system in my view. And, although I think some of Apple’s bundled apps are better featured, Microsoft’s are far nicer to use.
That’s my list. Are you someone that flips between Mac and Windows systems regularly? What do you wish Apple would learn from Microsoft and apply to macOS?