Windows 7 has been praised by Microsoft’s fanboy army, and berated by Apple’s Mac-toting zealots. But putting what’re the real differences?
Say you’re installing an OS on a netbook, or wondering whether to slip Microsoft’s latest onto your Apple-branded machine. You could listen to a pair of comedians muttering “I’m a PC” and “I’m patronising”… Or you could read our head-to-head death match to see just how the rival platforms stack up.
Grand Central Dispatch in OS X Snow Leopard means it’s able to take advantage of multicore systems. OS X Snow Leopard is also 64bit by default meaning it can address more memory which theoretically means it should run faster.
Windows 7 also contains support for both multicore systems, and for 64bit installations although it also allows for a 32bit installation too making it equally at home on that crumbly PC you’ve been wanting to kick more life into. However you should be careful: if you choose to opt for 32bit, it is not possible to simply upgrade Windows 7 on the fly. Changing to 64bit requires a complete clean install.
Which OS is more useable really comes down to personal preference. OS X Snow Leopard is arguably less customisable than Windows 7 but OS X has a history of being more stable than its Microsoft rival. Meanwhile, visually Windows 7 has moved into OS X’s territory with changes to the taskbar and the way widgets are treated on the desktop.
Those changes, combined with Windows 7′s Snap, Shake and Peek features (which OS X fans will rightfully recognise as being similar to Exposé on a Mac) make this the easiest version of Windows to drive. Check out our guide to what’s new in Windows 7 for more info on the elements Apple fans might find familiar.
Apple’s made a big song and dance when OS X Leopard was launched, attacking Windows for having security issues that Macs do not. However, Windows 7′s more easily understood security and maintenance controls, and a good anti-virus programme, means most users should be safe as houses.
If anything, we’ve always felt a bit uneasy with Apple’s attitude towards viruses and security. At least Microsoft’s OS makes you aware of the dangers of hopping online, rather than assuming you’ll trust everything it packs in as standard.
That said, the two operating systems take security to a new high in terms of both protection and simplicity. It’s hard to drive a wedge between them, and Windows 7 makes managing features such as firewalls and anti-virus software much simpler. We’d say that, for the first time, the two are beginning to look evenly matched.
With Quicktime X at its heart, OS X Snow Leopard has multimedia smarts that out-perform all its predescessors. However, Windows 7 and Windows Media Player 12 promise to provide improved multimedia support. Sure, iTunes comes pre-installed on Snow Leopard, plays nice with your home network and will share songs across computers in your home. However, Windows Media Player 12 has a new trick up its sleeve and will push songs to any networked device from Xbox 360s to WiFi packing radios.
Windows 7 follows Microsoft’s tradition ofoffering multiple versions for you to choose from. There’s a handful of options, while Apple favours the simplicity of just one OS – OS X Snow Leopard. Snow Leopard is outwardly better value – coming in at just £25 as an upgrade or £129 as part of the Mac Boxset with iLife 09 and iWork 09. But even Apple itself describes Snow Leopard as a “refinement” rather than a full-on replacement.
It is unquestionably superior to its predecessor, OS X Leopard, but is by no means the complete overhaul that Windows 7 is. Both visually and structurally Windows 7 is substantially different to its much maligned forebear Windows Vista.
Windows 7 will set you back between £80 and £230 with a range of different packages available to choose from. Luckily, we’ve put together a guide for you to pick which one you’re after. For a total OS overhaul, £80 is affordable but £230 could well be a little bit too steep for most people.