Thurrott: Microsoft’s Windows Vista Beta 1 vs. Apple’s Mac OS X Tiger

“After years and years of waiting, we finally have a reasonably stable Windows Vista beta build to work with. Windows Vista Beta 1 doesn’t feature many end user features per se, but it does include a nearly complete next-generation Windows shell, instant desktop search, a preliminary version of the new Aero user interface, and other useful functionality. For Windows enthusiasts, Windows Vista Beta 1 is a much-needed demonstration that Microsoft can still churn out valuable Windows releases, after years of doubt,” Paul Thurrott writes for Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows. “For Mac OS X users, however, Windows Vista Beta 1 engenders a sense of déjà vu. Isn’t a lot of this stuff already in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger?”

In part one of his comparison, Thurrott looks at:
• Look and Feel: “In short, though there are some bizarre inconsistencies in the Tiger UI, it is far more elegant looking than Aero in Windows Vista Beta 1. That makes sense, as Vista is still in a very early beta version and will likely be improved dramatically in future releases.”
• Desktop Search: “Overall, the search functionality in Windows Vista Beta 1 is very similar to Tiger’s Spotlight.”
• Data visualization and organization: “Even in this early Beta 1 release, Windows Vista far outstrips the data file visualization and organizational features in Mac OS X Tiger. It will be interesting to see what Apple comes up with for Leopard, the next OS X release.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Comparing a beta version to a shipping product that won’t even be the shipping product (that’ll be Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard) when Windows Vista ships is an interesting exercise. The two products likely won’t ever be competing against each other (unless Microsoft is early and Apple is late), but Thurrott’s comparison gives us a sense for where both Apple and Microsoft are today and where they might be heading with future OSes.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Thurrott: Apple Macs offer a safer computing experience than Microsoft Windows PCs – July 20, 2005
Thurrott on spyware: ‘we should have paid more attention to those Apple Switcher ads after all’ – July 08, 2005
Apple to unleash Leopard on Microsoft’s Windows Longhorn; Mac OS X 10.5 due late 2006 – early 2007 – June 07, 2005
Windows tech writer Thurrott: ‘In many ways, Mac OS X Tiger is simply better than Windows’ – May 07, 2005
Thurrott: ‘Longhorn is in complete disarray and in danger of collapsing under its own weight’ – April 27, 2005
Thurrott: Longhorn ‘has the makings of a train wreck’ – April 26, 2005
Thurrott: Longhorn demos ‘unimpressive, fall short of graphical excellence found today in Mac OS X’ – April 26, 2005


  1. “Mommy, what is Data File Visualization and Organization?”

    Is he talking about data files like documents and MP3s versus application files like Okay, so the visualization and organization of those documents is better than in Tiger where smart folders can auto-build their content and I have thumbnails of images and can play music and video in the Finder? WOW! way to go MS, sounds like they’re on to something!

    But I will have to see it to believe it…

    And what about Spotlight? MS has gotten the same features in Vista? Is the author CERTAIN because where I read about vista, I don’t read about being able to have stuff like contextual spotlight help in the Tiger control panel that exposes the help system to spotlight and uses automator like workflows to the highlight which parts of control panel are applicable to what the user is typing AS THEY ARE TYPING!

    Microsoft cannot innovate for feal of alienating their existing customer base and cannot coddle their existing customer base for fear of falling behind in innovation. Glad I own a Mac!

    MDN: cut

  2. oh, yikes, I’m like so scared of Windows… If Paul says that the Beta is worth a look I suppose we should all seriously consider why we are using such an underdog system.

    Was M$ ever able to “churn out valuable Windows releases”?

    MDN MW=”mass” Critical has been breached…

  3. …”Even in this early Beta 1 release, Windows Vista far outstrips the data file visualization and organizational features in Mac OS X Tiger”…

    This says it all, a very early Beta build is already outperforming the 5 year old Apple OS.

    The MS developers are the real “Pro’s” when it comes to building a robust enterprise class OS. Apple is going to have a lot of catching up to do!

    The soon to be released Windows Vista is going to be the most elegant and secure OS ever and the integration of digital assets into the daily productivity workflow of ‘all’ users is something Apple can only dream of achieving…


  4. Microsoft have built their entire business on what is coming according to their beta releases. I’ll wait and read the reviews when if FINALLY ships, and then compare how it fares up against Tiger.

    That is, if I haven’t died of old age.

  5. in his article, thurott talks for a while about speculation, then sums up his arguement by saying that OS 10.4 has bizarre inconsistencies. He has not actually talked about what these inconsistencies are or why they are bizarre. can someone please tell me what he is talking about?

  6. when vista is released you’ll see a lot of comparisons to tiger and anticipation for leopord. lets face it, that what the media did when tiger got released.

    i think it’ll be interesting to see how many dells and compacts sell due to vista as they’ll have to jack their prices up to handle the ram and mhz requirements. i bet they’ll still offer xp units as the bate and hook, dells usual m. o.

    time will only tell.

    i can tall you right now, where i work, we’ll probably stay with xp for a long long time. i’m having a hard enough time getting bumped up to 512 ram just to run the amount of app i have to work with on a daily basis.

  7. Well, i don’t understand. The Windows Fanatics (note: fanatism is not a very good thing, regardless which side are you) when hear something about Tiger featuring future Vista-features say:” don’t compare, Vista is still in beta stage”. But hey, now that Mr Thurrot made the comparision, all is fine. Oh well, i guess that’s the way it works.

    Tiger, regardless who don’t want to understand, WILL NOT be Vista’s competitor. Period. Of Course, Mr Thurrot pronounced the name of the cat which is going to fight against the MS product. But well, he cannot compare one thing to another which still doesn’t exist.

    About the fact that Apple, has not introduced more features than the ones announced in 2004, i can say that’s the way it works for Apple. These were the biggest stars in the product (and that is what Apple shows). The rest was under the hood work, which results (in my opinion) in the best Apple OS ever. Anyway, seems MS made some promises that later had to forget at some point (new file system,….). No word of it?. I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and wait and see WHAT EXACTLY they fit into the final product.

  8. Where Spotlight offers various ways to find-tune search results using groupings and sortings (Figure), Vista Beta 1 lets you fine-tune the search with various stackable filters (Figure). To get this kind of functionality in Tiger, you need to first create a Smart Folder, which provides the same kind of filtering (Figure).

    What the hell is he talking about? Command-F in Finder does what he is talking about without creating a Smart Folder first. When someone misses functionality like this I can no longer rely on them for any sort of analysis.

  9. As long as we are speculating about unreleased operating systems, I would like to speculate that OS 10.5 Leopard is going to be revolutionary in its extention of the Spotlight interface. I think that Apple has a lot of ideas that they are not ready to disclose yet that will make Vista look old before its time. I think that Apple will release the new version just before or just after Vista to make a point.

    As long as we are speculating. ; )

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