I’d been waiting to do a Windows 7 and Mac OS X comparison for quite some time now. And was simply overjoyed to receive my personal copy of Windows 7 Ultimate last weekend. So here’s pitting two of the most famed operating systems against each other. Hit the read link to see which one stole the show.
It makes enough sense to do the comparison at this time as Snow Leopard has been updated to 10.6.1 and Windows 7 too had a few updates over the RTM release. Firstly, the hardware – The 64 bit editions of the two OS’ were installed on a Macbook Pro(2009) 2.53ghz, 4GB Ram. Boot Camp 3.0 was used to install Windows. Trust me it makes the driver installation a breeze. No virtualization used.
I’d only be discussing update pricing here. Upgrading from Leopard to Snow costs only $29. However, Windows 7 Ultimate will set you back by $219 if you are upgrading from Vista or XP. While Snow Leopard has no variants Windows does and the Ultimate was the only one that would have compete against Snow.
Both the OS were installed with default settings and power management was set to high performance. You could upgrade Vista to Win7 and Leopard to Snow. Let me tell you upgrading from XP to Win7 will put you through some peril though. We’ll cover that later. Mac users don’t have to worry at all. No matter what version you are upgrading from, no issues whatsoever. For the sake of the test I did a fresh installation of both on different hard disks. Both the installations took around thirty minutes.
Now something that I really got bugged by and must share here is that Windows 7 does not have these pre installed unlike any version of Mac OS X. No PDF Viewer, No IM application and no e-mail client. They can be downloaded from Windows Live Site but why, Microsoft?
Microsoft has definitely enhanced the user interface on this one and Win7 is by far the best-looking OS in the Windows family. However, beauty won’t stay appreciated without functionality. Let’s find out. The new Aero themes which we first saw in Vista look pretty. Also, worth noticing, the user interface is more user-friendly than Vista and is less irritating to use.
I’ll briefly mention some of the new Aero features. Aero Shake allows you to shake the title bar of a window, to minimize all other windows. Aero Snap lets you drag the window to the right left or top of the screen and it snaps itself elegantly. Dragging left or right makes it occupy half of the screen while top edge makes it full screen.
The new Windows is less painful to configure but you still have to do some work finding what you want, say advanced power options for instance. Nothing beats the simple layout of System Preferences that Mac has. However, beauty won’t stay appreciated without functionality. While UI is catching up usability wise Windows still has a long way to go.
I also must mention Apple’s striking new feature Spotlight. It’s a search tool but the best you have ever seen on your desktop. It searches through everything you want it to. From system settings to your files, and did I forget to mention, in no time! Windows Search is catching up but not a match yet.
Well, here both the OS fared almost equally well-doing daily errands such as word processing, printing, browsing. Except of course, ease of usability lies more towards Snow. Snow is not only less intrusive but way more user-friendly. Good news here is that Win7 manages your Graphics Processor better than its predecessors.
When it came to startup or shutdown Snow put Win7 to shame. While Snow took 31 seconds to boot up Windows took 44. While shutting down, Snow took me 3 second and Windows 9 seconds. Resuming from standby was the same on both – around one sec.
Other Benchmark tests
You could do these yourselves as well. In music encoding, the latest version of iTunes took around ten minutes to rip a folder while Windows took a minute longer. So Snow fared better when it came to encoding, start-up and shutdown.
However, when it came to 3D rendering Windows7 did a better job. The game Call of Duty 4 has its own benchmarking system. Win7 on an average score 5fps higher than Snow.
While Microsoft has enhanced security options on this one, UAC still remains annoying, though you can turn it off. Also, Windows 7 has one distinct feature from Snow, that is Address Space Layout Randomization. This functions to randomly reposition important data making it less vulnerable to exploits. One could argue that Windows has far more viruses and trojans than Mac and attribute it to its greater popularity and exposure but that’s turning to prove false as Mac’s share increases.
With moderate use, keyboard and screen illumination set to medium and wi-fi on windows lasted around two third the time Snow did. While Snow lasted 5 hrs 15 minutes Windows ran out of battery juice in 3 hrs 40 minutes. Of course this could also be due to Boot Camp and given the fact that Snow is native to the Mac. That said, you could definitely make out that Windows 7 is more power-hungry if not less than Snow.
While Snow seems sleeker and way more user-friendly, Windows definitely has greater options and wider compatibility to its fame. I have only shared a first hand experience with both. While, we’ve discussed time tests and other surface features another important aspect lies in how the OS responds to third-party installations. Also how multiple processor cores are utilized.
We are not exactly starting an OS war here. Operating Systems have evolved ever since. Likewise user needs are on an increase too. So its just a matter of how the former catches up with the latter. While Microsoft has a wider reach, it’s unpleasant to see so many security updates every week. I’m sure most of us Windows users would be way happier when the very need to release them so often decreases.
Vista and XP users must try Windows 7 as it is the best windows ever made. As for the hardware I’d always advice in favor of the Mac for only a Mac lets you taste the best of both worlds. You could run both Windows and Snow leopard on it. Final verdict at the end of the day: Snow Leopard
PS: We have a lot of Mac coverage in store for you. So those of you who are curious about the Mac experience or have had trouble choosing between a Mac and a PC, we’ll have loads of info for you coming later this month. Do leave a comment – about Mac and Windows alike.
Given an option between Windows 7 and Apple Snow Leopard, which one will be your choice and why?
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