InformationWeek Review: Apple’s Mac OS X shines in comparison with Microsoft’s Windows Vista

“If you believe all the hype, installing the new Windows Vista operating system will solve world famine, end the AIDS crisis and bring about world peace. Well, maybe no one is saying it’s that great, but the clamor and fuss have been pretty boisterous,” John C. Welch reports for InformationWeek.

Welch reports, “Hidden behind all of this hoopla, however, is the fact that as much of an improvement Vista is over XP, its main competitor, Mac OS X, still stacks up really well — and even tops Vista in several important areas.”

“While Mac OS X has been steadily evolving through 10.0, 10.1, 10.2, 10.3 and 10.4, and is now working towards 10.5, Microsoft was waiting on what would become Vista. When it was obvious the original Longhorn OS wasn’t going to happen, they took the Windows Server 2003 code base and used that for the basis of Vista. They also chopped quite a few features out of Vista, most notably the WinFS object-based data storage and management system, which had been promised in various forms since the first blurbs about Cairo in the early 1990s,” Welch reports.

Welch reports, “Microsoft had two serious issues. First, they had to make this update of Windows revolutionary enough that it came close to justifying the delay. Second, they had to come up with something that would stand up well with its main competitor in the desktop OS market, Mac OS X. Have they succeeded at both? I’d argue that the former’s almost a non-issue: Vista will sell well, because the world won’t have a choice. As far as the latter, well, probably, but you’d be hard-pressed to say Vista’s better than Mac OS X.”

Welch reports, “For Mac OS X, it’s the classic English butler. This OS is designed to make the times you have to interact with it as quick and efficient as possible. It expects that things will work correctly, and therefore sees no reason to bother you with correct operation confirmations… Windows is…well, Windows is very eager to tell you what’s going on. Constantly. Plug something in, and you get a message. Unplug something and you get a message. If you’re on a network that’s having problems staying up, you’ll get tons of messages telling you this. It’s rather like dealing with an overexcited Boy Scout…who has a lifetime supply of chocolate-covered espresso beans… To put it simply, you can work on a Mac for hours, days even, and only minimally need to directly use the OS. With Vista? The OS demands your attention, constantly.”

Welch reports, “I’ve yet to see anything in Vista that blows away the Mac OS, even a version of the Mac OS that’s over a year old. Microsoft still can’t manage to make something simple and easy to use. Vista reeks of committee and design by massive consensus, while OS X shines from an intense focus on doing things in a simple, clear fashion and design for the user, not the programmer.

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “π” for the heads up.]

Related MacDailyNews articles:
NY Times’ Pogue reviews Microsoft’s Windows Vista: ‘Looks, Locks, Lacks’ – December 14, 2006
Forbes: Microsoft Windows Vista boss suffers from Mac envy – December 12, 2006
Unlike Microsoft’s Windows Vista, Apple’s Mac OS X Leopard will create no new jobs – December 12, 2006
Microsoft’s Windows Vista: obsolete on arrival? – December 04, 2006
InformationWeek: Now that Vista is the past, let’s look at the future: Apple’s Mac OS X Leopard – December 02, 2006
Microsoft’s Windows Vista and Office 2007 releases generate yawns – December 02, 2006
Dave Winer: ‘Microsoft isn’t an innovator, and never was – they are always playing catch-up’ – December 01, 2006
Microsoft’s Windows Vista vulnerable to malware from 2004 – November 30, 2006
Microsoft Windows Vista developers used Apple Macs for inspiration – November 27, 2006
Microsoft’s Windows Vista is basically Microsoft’s version of Mac OS 9.3 – October 11, 2006
Microsoft Windows Vista: If you can’t innovate… try to impersonate Apple’s Mac OS X – August 10, 2006
Microsoft botches another copy job: Windows Vista Flip3D vs. Apple Mac OS X Exposé – June 26, 2006
Windows Vista rips-off Mac OS X at great hardware cost (and Apple gains in the end) – June 13, 2006
Computerworld: Microsoft Windows Vista a distant second-best to Apple Mac OS X – June 02, 2006
Thurrott: Microsoft going to get eaten alive over Windows Vista’s resemblance to Apple’s Mac OS X – March 09, 2006
NY Times’ Pogue on Gates’ CES demo: Most of Vista features unadulterated ripoffs from Apple Mac OS X – January 05, 2006
Analyst: Windows Vista may still impress many consumers because they have not seen Apple’s Mac OS X – January 05, 2006
Apple’s talent and innovation vs. Microsoft’s hype – October 25, 2005
Microsoft’s Windows Vista strives to deliver what Apple’s Mac OS X already offers – October 10, 2005
Thurrott: many of Windows Vista’s upcoming features appeared first in Apple’s Mac OS X – September 26, 2005
Microsoft’s Ballmer: It’s true, some of Windows Vista’s features are ‘kissing cousins’ to Mac OS X – September 18, 2005
PC World: Microsoft innovation – an oxymoron – September 14, 2005
As usual, Apple leads, Microsoft tries to follow – June 02, 2005


  1. Anyone who has had to use XP for any length of time will know about the Desktop Cleanup Wizard which pops up every so often and tells you that since you haven’t used certain icons on your desktop for so long, it’s just dying to “help” you out by clearing them off. I’m not incompetent and if I wanted them off, they’d be gone by now. Classic example of Microsoft’s “helpfulness”.

    Totally agree with the whole thing about things working properly and getting annoying messages. When I plug in my USB thumb drive into a PC, if it’s not working is the only time I want to be told about it. The fact you discovered USB hardware, while certainly miraculous at times, doesn’t mean I want to hear about it. Sheesh, you want a pat on the back and a cookie? Plug my device into my Powerbook and the only notification I have to receive is the icon showing up on my desktop. Far less intrusive and far more useful. Perhaps some of you know more examples, but I primarily use my Mac for a reason: because it’s not Windows.

    My “analysis” weighed Windows in the balance, and found it wanting.

  2. InformationWeek is being a bit too heavy handed, I think. All the problems, drawbacks, snags, inconsistencies, and ambiguities that Welch has identified with Vista will all be solved with Microsoft releasing Service Packs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 in 2007, 2008, and 2009.

  3. In some ways the XP to Vista transition reminds me of the MacOS 9 to MacOS X transition. You may recall that Apple had great difficulty in its OX transition plans in the mid-90’s. It took about five years or so to release MacOS X (v10.0), and about another year or so to bring it close to prime time status.

    One big difference is that Apple started this process about six years before M$, and thus has a large headstart in maturing its next generation OS. Additionally, Apple chose to make a clean break with its older Classic OS heritage to achieve its objectives of a powerful, stable and secure operating system with a growth path to the future. M$ was unable to execute on most of its plans for major internal upgrades in Vista and basically settled for a warmed-over version of XP with a few additional security features.

    I predict that the MacOS will continue to evolve in ways beneficial to the user while Vista will stagnate much like XP with a few “service packs” to add some features and patch a bunch of problems.

  4. A MAC user? MAC = Media Access Contoller – typically that is an Ethernet interface

    Mac is the short name for Macintosh, a computer made by Apple Computer.

    MAC is what Windoze trolls call a Mac. From your nice comments, I can see you are not a Windoze troll. I offer these comments as a way of welcoming you to the neighborhood and helping you to fit in.

    Welcome, friend!

  5. King Mel:

    Sorry, yer highness, but with thinking like that you have been deposed and banished to the wastelands of ignorance. OS X (Open source/BSD/Next Step) is a radical departure from OS 9 (Close source/Classic). Vista is another slapdash compilation of the same digital garbage that comprises Windows XP and 2000 (Closed source/NT).

  6. Oh boy, bless us be! Yet another soul that really gets it. Tiger has been a joy, it’s only recently that I’ve felt the need to stroke a new kitty. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” /> Can’t hardly wait!

  7. … or else their work with google will open up significant applications that work primarily through the internet (instead of through the OS), allowing anyone to use Apple software on their computers…

    I’m telling you, something’s going on here. Things are about to get blown wide open.

  8. > In some ways the XP to Vista transition reminds me of the MacOS 9 to MacOS X transition.

    No way. Apple basically abandoned the Mac OS 9 codebase and rebooted with Mac OS X. Microsoft is just patching the same old Windows codebase. It was trying for something a bit more revolutionary, which is why it took five years, but that original project was mostly abandoned. What survived as the released Windows Vista is something that was mostly slapped together during the last year.

    What it does remind me of instead, is the Mac OS 7 to Mac OS 8/9 transition. Apple was working on a thing called “Copeland” (Apple’s “Longhorn” disaster). It was supposed to be the next revolutionary step for the Mac OS. But it got mired in its own complexity and too-high goals, just as the original Longhorn did. In the end, it was cancelled outright, and some of the superficial elements (such as the “platinum” interface) survived in an enhanced and patched up version of Mac OS 7, which Apple released as Mac OS 8, 8.1, 8.5, 8.6, and later Mac OS 9.x. That’s Windows Vista, almost exactly following in Apple’s footsteps, even when Apple blows it.

  9. I’m sick of comparisons of OS X to Vista, it robs us of criticism of the former. OS X ain’t perfect, and Vista is completely irrelevant to this user. The Finder is still not as snappy as OS 9 for chrissakes, and the ability of the OS to fix itself is suspect as far as I’m concerned. iTunes now takes seconds to read the library whereas earlier versions just launched ready to go [bloat?]. SONY took their eye off the ball in hardware because of their content business. Apple’s content business shouldn’t be allowed to impinge on the user experience.

    Vista is a distraction.

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