I regularly use both Windows and Mac PCs, so any comments that I've never used a Mac are bunk. I've been using Windows 7 since before its public beta release at the first of this year. I use my Mac for video editing, iPhone development, etc. I love all of my computers equally -- my Windows PC, my Mac and my Linux servers. They all do what I ask them to do very well, and I have things about each that I like and things I don't.
But frankly, the differences in the Windows 7 and Mac OS X platforms from a usability standpoint are pretty much nil. Windows 7 has simplified much of the complexity introduced in Vista and made Windows a very clean and easy-to-use OS. I would even go so far as to predict that the days of Apple trampling all over Windows in the "I'm a Mac" commercials are pretty much over. Not to say Apple won't go after Windows 7 as soon as Windows 7 has some vulnerability or issue Apple can exploit in a TV commercial. I'll grant, too, that Apple still has its "cool" factor and Windows isn't like to encroach on that. But Windows 7 is not only a "good enough" operating system, it is so much better an OS and user experience that Apple will have to think hard before using the same advertising tactics that worked so well on Vista.
Here are the five reasons Apple fears Windows 7:
Clean and Simple User Experience. There is now very little difference between the easy user experience on Windows 7 and Mac OS X. Gone from Windows 7 are Vista's loads of unnecessary bloatware applications, confusing and poorly designed configuration dialog boxes, and moronic UAC popups that impeded a user's productivity at every turn. The new task bar is more simple and straightforward than Mac OS X's crowded icon bar. Windows also has very good screen configuration settings that make switching between monitor configurations extremely easy. And the Control Panel has been redesigned to the basics of what end users need to manage Windows 7. Like it or not, we're now down to personal preference when it comes to usability and ease of use.
Mac Crashes More. Fact is, my Windows 7 systems don't crash... ever. Those days of frequent Windows Explorer crashes went away when I installed the Windows 7 RC. My Mac now crashes more often (about once a month or so) than Windows 7, and my Mac isn't over laden with junk on it.
Flexibility and Lower Cost. Microsoft has updated its "PC hunter" commercials but they still show how easy it is to find a better value when buying a Windows PC over a Mac. You have to use some pretty convoluted math to come to the conclusion Macs don't cost more than PCs for the equivalent devices. If you buy a Mac it's going to be because you consciously have decided you want a Mac instead of a PC, you hate Microsoft, you prefer the Mac user interface, etc.
Performance. We may not have side-by-side Windows 7 and Mac OS X performance comparisons yet (I'm sure we will soon) but Windows 7 isn't the performance hog Vista was. The experience is great. Windows 7 tools are fast, applications don't freeze up waiting for resources, disk I/O performance is great, memory utilization is much more efficient. Startup, shutdown and sleep are fast. Outlook still has its issues with not responding but overall we're talking a speedy experience on Windows 7. Now add that to the fact that Windows has access to the latest hardware advances -- you can crack the core on the latest Intel i7 or other hardware advances.
Mac Security Is NOT Better Than Windows 7. Many still live with the myth that Mac OS X doesn't have any security issues while Windows does. That myth ignores the facts. For example, Apple just released 18 security patches (the smallest collection of patches this year) for Mac OS X on August 5th. Many try to argue that not all the fixes are for Mac OS X, but rather for other software that might be included with it. To compare apples-to-apples (pun intended) you have to stack up the software each vendor ships with their products, not selective parts of it. While it is true that Windows is still a much larger security target because of it's market share, it isn't true that the Mac doesn't have plenty of security issues of its own.
This story, "Why Macs Can't Beat PCs with Windows 7" was originally published by Network World.