Windows into Mac, part 1


Lately at work I’ve been forced to juggle both Macs and PCs. I have several years’ experience using Macs, but I’ve been working exclusively on XP-based PCs for the past couple of years, so it was a little bit of an adjustment going back. What’s been interesting to me is getting a fresh perspective about what works and what doesn’t work about the Mac or PC. Also of note is that the last version of OSX that I used was 10.3 and some of the newer machines have 10.5 installed, and there are some differences there.

Fair warning – I’m an “advanced” user and so if you only use your computer for checking email and browsing the web, chances are you may not notice or encounter the same issues as me.

What’s interesting to me about going back to Mac OS after an extended period of time using Windows is that Windows ought to be called something like “Microsoft OS” Mac OS really ought to be called “Windows.” Because, while Windows has the eponymous windows, windows are actually a lot more integral to the Mac OS than vice versa.

What do I mean by that? Well, if tomorrow Microsoft came out with a universally downloaded virus patch that would affect all Windows computers in the world and caused every window to run full-screen … As long as the Taskbar remained intact I don’t think it would hugely upset things. On the other hand, if Steve Jobs decided tomorrow that windows were passe and that he was moving Mac OS to an all-full-screen window mode, except for the file menu and the dock … Your typical Mac user would be in deep, deep trouble.

So, to me, it’s pretty obvious that Macs are a lot more integrated with this user interface philosophy of “windows.” Which I’ve noticed, since I have been using them regularly again, makes it kind of troublesome to use the Mac since as a graphical user interface (GUI) it’s frankly just inferior to Windows for managing windows. And, I mean, I enjoy using Mac OS since I can open up a shell and do everything I need to pretty easily. But it’s ironic because everyone always talks about the Mac OS GUI, and that’s the weakest link in my opinion.

Why? Well, here’s the big one. Window management. This is something that I’ve come to notice myself doing quite a bit of in OS X. And this is something I remember doing quite a bit of in OS X. And after some observation, it’s something I’ve come to notice myself not doing in Windows XP. Even understanding that my XP machines are “worn-in,” so to speak, while the Mac machines I’m using may not be, I’ve noticed that there are some reasons why window management is always part of the stock Mac OS experience, and why it’s not for Windows XP. I’m going to try and explore this in a bit more detail later.

2 Responses

  1. Expose is your friend. I do get a little more window clutter on the Mac, but that’s just because it uses them more integrally. I find juggling programs and windows in Windows to be, at best, less troublesome and, at worst, far more troublesome. And I use Windows most of the time. And many of the apps I use reside in the task tray, so I can’t rely on window/program entities in the task bar to inform me.

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