Mossberg reviews Windows 7: Apple’s Mac OS X still better – but not by much

“In recent years, I, like many other reviewers, have argued that Apple’s Mac OS X operating system is much better than Windows. That’s no longer true. I still give the Mac OS a slight edge because it has a much easier and cheaper upgrade path; more built-in software programs; and far less vulnerability to viruses and other malicious software, which are overwhelmingly built to run on Windows,” Walter S. Mossberg reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“Now, however, it’s much more of a toss-up between the two rivals. Windows 7 beats the Mac OS in some areas, such as better previews and navigation right from the taskbar, easier organization of open windows on the desktop and touch-screen capabilities,” Mossberg reports. “So Apple will have to scramble now that the gift of a flawed Vista has been replaced with a reliable, elegant version of Windows.”

Mossberg reports, “Windows 7 is a very good, versatile operating system that should help Microsoft bury the memory of Vista and make PC users happy.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Mossberg seems so enamored of Windows 7’s upside-down and backwards copies of features that Apple’s Mac OS X began introducing 9 years ago, that he forgets it’s still Windows underneath. New installs are one thing, but Windows rots over time because it’s built on an ancient garbage dump of code. That lovely Registry is still there, for example; along with the same bloated, rickety foundation. A pig in lipstick is still a pig. And what’s ‘new’ on the surface of Microsoft’s Vista service pack, er… ‘Windows 7’ is old in Apple’s Mac OS X. And Windows still can’t run iLife, iWork, Final Cut, etc.

That said, perceptions often trump reality, so therefore Apple’s “Vista Window” is now officially closed. Selling a Mac to a Windows-only user just became a much more difficult proposition.

Some might say that Apple CEO Steve Jobs squandered the opportunity, at least partially, that Microsoft handed to Apple on a silver platter. We’d have to agree: Apple’s Mac made gains while Vista floundered, but more – we believe much more – could have been gained than was. What do you think, did Apple take all they could from the gift that was Windows Vista or did they leave a significant amount of would-be Mac users on the table?

UPDATE, Oct. 9, 11:35am EDT: Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports for Fortune (crediting reader Jon T. of Cardiff, Wales) on two quotes from Mossberg’s Windows Vista and Windows 7 reviews:

“After months of testing Vista on multiple computers, new and old, I believe it is the best version of Windows that Microsoft has produced.” — Wall Street Journal, Jan. 18, 2007

“After using pre-release versions of Windows 7 for nine months, and intensively testing the final version for the past month on many different machines, I believe it is the best version of Windows Microsoft has produced.” — Wall Street Journal, Oct. 8, 2009

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: Windows rots. And we don’t just mean that’s inferior to our Macs, but that also over time, in the hands of everyday users, it clogs up, slows down, and generally deteriorates. Let’s give Windows 7 the time it needs for its inherent issues to begin showing up.


  1. Sure, if Apple wanted market share there would have been a number of things they could have done — like cheaper low margin systems.

    But that’s not a winning formula in the long run (see Dell).

    As MDN pointed out, the underlying code is still Windows, while OS X has been rewritten to be a modern system.

    My question for Walt — who I think we all admire for his consistent honesty over the years in tech — is whether or not that Windows 7 computer he tested will be running well a couple of years from now with the registry at its guts.

    Because that’s the difference between the systems. Reliability and maintenance. With Windows, you get a cheaper system up front that mimics what the Mac can do. That deteriorates over time, though.

    Microsoft may have woken up and realized that elegance matters. Good for the whole industry if that’s true. I’m betting that the chrome washes off as time goes on.

  2. Mossberg just wants to be in the media – whether it is for Mac or Windows. He knows that many (or most) of his readers are stuck with Vista and want something better without going to Mac.

    None of his points made are even valid. Sheer pandering to Windows fans. Not a true review.

    And by the way, included software and protection from virus attacks are crucial and those features alone make Snow Leopard (and all versions of OS X) vastly superior to Windows 7.

    The Unix underpinnings of OS X are vastly superior to the Windows underpinnings of Windows 7, period.

    Windows 7 does computer science another disservice and will send millions of developers and users scrambling, taking up time, and all for an OS that has market share but that is inferior and is holding back our futures. Computer science needs to move forward, not be stuck in Windows land.

  3. Windows 7 has a number of very nice UI enhancements on the surface that OS X simply doesn’t. I refer to being able to auto-resize windows by using gestures, do instant split screens simply by dragging windows to the sides of the screen, amongst others.

    The new Windows Start bar is also greatly enhanced, mimicking the OS X Dock in many ways.

    But what Mossberg fails to recognize is that unlike Apple, Microsoft has done little to the underlying OS to relieve long standing concerns. I refer specifically to the registry (a bad architecture decision that will continue to haunt Microsoft for years) and also a distinct lack of optimization for multi-processing and little in the way of framework for developers to take advantage of it.

    Excuse the pun, but Windows 7 is little more than window dressing on its flawed predecessor.

  4. @breeze

    I agree slow and steady wins the race. I think Apple took the opportunity to create Snow Leopard. Although it may not look like much on the surface, but underneath they took advantage of the quiet to do some major cleaning. This was a great opportunity to do that. Now they have an even more solid foundation to leap forward. When will Windows ever have a chance to clean up.

    I suspect, the next version after Leopard will be a major leap because of all of their housecleaning. The next version of Windows will probably take 10 more years because of the mess they have underneath.

    The race is not over.

  5. My question would be, “What was Apple supposed to do?” It wasn’t on their schedule to have Vista collapse. I appreciate that Apple (usually) puts good things out there where they’re good and ready rather than putting things out there just to get ’em out there. I don’t think Apple is quite as obsessed with dominating the world as MS. Don’t get me wrong – they are a corporation with a bottom line. But I think that line is in pencil for Apple & permanent marker for MS. Things change, so does Apple. Things change, MS pummels them back. I think Jobs & Co. did what they wanted to do. I don’t want my favorite company to become the next MS.

  6. One question. Will Vista users still have to wipe their machines and reinstall the OS every six months? I assume they will because of the registry, but does anyone here know for sure?

  7. “not by much?”

    getting a virus is Ok?

    no decent built-in software is Ok?

    I hope his readers will see through his Microsoft pandering.

    A big ass convoluted OS with a registry and proprietary organization is not a good thing and that’s what makes it so vulnerable to virus and malware attacks. Its not Unix.

    I think Mossberg is a just looking for attention and should be addressed as a fake reporter.

  8. I’ll give up my Mac only when it’s pried from my cold dead fingers. But I have to admit that Windows 7 is not that bad.

    For MDN to continually call it a service pack is just blind fanboy junk. Better take it seriously!

  9. From what I understand about Snow Leopard, it was based on an established superior desktop with a few small visual improvements, with underpinnings and APIs that poise it for future software coming from Apple and outside developers. 64 bit, Open CL, and Grand Central should lead to an influx of superior applications, running on these “tracks.” Let’s hope the iPhone halo draws good developers to the Mac.
    In the meantime, we can go about our computing ways secure in the knowledge that we are using Unix further developed by Apple. We don’t suffer the normal MS glitches, and we have hardware that was developed for matching software. . . . It’s good looking stuff, as well.

  10. Even in its worse day, Mac OS were so much better than Windows in so many ways for the normal, everyday user and even small enterprise users. That will not change with Vista/7, no matter what Walt the man implies.

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