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10/16/2012
09:04 AM
Paul McDougall
Paul McDougall
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Windows 8 Beats The Mac, Appsolutely

Microsoft's new operating system looks how a modern OS should--big, bold, and centered around apps. Suddenly, it's Apple's turn to catch up.

8 Key Differences Between Windows 8 And Windows RT
8 Key Differences Between Windows 8 And Windows RT
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
It's an irony Karl Marx would have loved. In getting users hooked on apps, Apple may have become its own gravedigger--at least for the Mac--while opening a door for Microsoft.

The popularity of the iPhone, and now the iPad, has changed consumers' notions about how computing devices should look and feel. The browser-based PC experience is giving way to the snappy, appy world of smartphones, tablets, and other new devices.

It started with the iPhone. Users embraced the idea of built-for-purpose apps that, while doing only one or two things, did them well. They also liked the fact that apps, when well designed, are free of the generic chrome and clutter on traditional PC applications. A slick and simple design code makes apps ideal for touch. Users don't have to worry about being all thumbs because in most cases there aren't many buttons to press.

No surprise then that iPhone-style apps soon showed up on other platforms--most notably phones powered by Google's Android. It was no coincidence, as a federal jury recently found in the Apple vs. Samsung patent case. Now, the world beyond phones and tablets is getting appified as industrial designers and interface experts from other fields embrace the concept.

[ Windows 8 raises a lot of questions. Read Is Windows 8 Too Risky For IT? ]

Roku, which makes a little box that transforms a standard television into a smartTV, uses the app metaphor to serve up on-demand programming and services from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and others. And the display screens used by news networks like CNN and Fox are starting to look pretty appy. (Most of those displays are built by Microsoft's recently acquired Perceptive Pixel unit).

The app influence is even making its way to the browser. eBay's redesigned home page, with its big, blocky images, looks suspiciously app-like--an indication that retailers seeking a unified brand image across multiple devices will start with their apps and work backwards. Their Web presences are becoming adaptations of their apps, not vice versa.

Which brings us back to Apple and Microsoft. Windows 8 and OS X Mountain Lion are the newest PC operating systems from Redmond and Cupertino, respectively. But it's Microsoft's that represents a bold leap into the app world. Microsoft has drawn lots of fire recently for being late to almost every significant tech development of the past decade, including mobile, music, and search.

Windows 8 GUI
Right touch: Windows 8's tactile GUI meets evolving expectations for computing interfaces.

But when it comes to embracing what appears to be the latest trend, apps, it's suddenly ahead.

Microsoft has done significant work to make the overall Windows 8 environment distinctive. The Modern UI (formerly known as Metro) has a consistent look and feel that starts with the Live Tiles interface, runs through its own and third-party apps, and extends into cloud services, such as Microsoft Music, that are available on Xbox Live.

Windows 8 apps are true apps, as I would define the term: Full-screen, specialized purpose, touchable, and always connected. And they can run on PCs or tablets, and have close cousins that will run on Windows Phone 8, which also uses Modern UI. For functions not suitable for touch, Windows 8 can be used with traditional input tools. And the classic Explorer desktop can be accessed on Windows 8 Pro and Enterprise with a single click.

OSX Mountain Lion? Despite some new fit and finish, it remains a traditional PC operating system that is a bridge too far from Apple's iOS-based mobile products. It sticks with old-style applications (window-based, general purpose, manipulated through mouse and keyboard) and the browser as the gateway to information and services.

OS Lion
Mouse that bored: OS X Mountain Lion is slick, but point-and-click is getting long in the tooth.

It does support the Mac's Multi-Touch trackpad, but still requires a lot of pointing and clicking to get around. And, given the rather astounding fact that as of this writing there is no such thing as a touchable Mac, it does not offer a tactile interface. Thus, even apps available from the Mac App Store must be written to conform to a GUI style that is increasingly being seen as old school.

So in terms of being a modern computer operating system, Windows 8 leaves OS X Mountain Lion in the dust. And that has a couple of important implications. It may be enough to stop advances that Apple has been making in the desktop market off the back of the iPhone and the iPad.

The other is that it may be a threat to the iPhone and iPad themselves. Users who prefer app-centric computing, and that may already be the majority, now have an ecosystem that offers a consistent experience across all devices, whether phone, tablet, PCs, or even a TV or gaming console. That's the new Microsoft ecosystem, and its foundation is Windows 8. Suddenly, it's Apple's turn to catch up.

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sergioxii
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sergioxii,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/27/2013 | 5:55:38 PM
re: Windows 8 Beats The Mac, Appsolutely
I'm Microsoft user since 1991. When I tried Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 I've made decision to move on MAC OS X. As for server I moved to Linux in 2009. But but now it is time for desktop. Windows 7 was not so bad, but recently, I've realized the pricing om Apple especially for server side is absolutely another world. So Windows 8 is useless monster for touchscreen loosers (sorry, content consumers), I tried all possible "StartButtonBack" options and 3rd party software and found that this is a cosmetic change and windows 8 interface fundamentally different from what it was before. So this article sounds kind humiliation for logical way of thinking. Desktop workstation has nothing to do with touchscreen concept.
Christopher Quinn
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Christopher Quinn,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/7/2013 | 12:51:38 AM
re: Windows 8 Beats The Mac, Appsolutely
People are using their feet to vote on windows 8 and the sales figures tell the story. And who would want a touch screen PC. I want to rest my arms not have them constantly up at a screen. This OS is best kept for mobile hardware and not for the PC.
traimo088
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traimo088,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/28/2013 | 9:54:19 PM
re: Windows 8 Beats The Mac, Appsolutely
Respectfully disagree that the bulk of work gets done in desktops. IG«÷m seeing more work moving to the iPad and other tablet devices. These devices support the notion (IT mission?) of G«£Information when you need it, where you need it, in the format you need it.G«• Imagine the facilities engineer with an iPad in a manufacturing facility. He comes across equipment that needs repair. He uses his iPad to take a picture of it and then creates a repair order on the spot. IG«÷m also seeing more and more people take their iPads to meetings to take notes and leaving their laptops in the office. Sophisticated applications may require a laptop but sometimes portability is all you need. Windows 8 does both.
Ryan Tan
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Ryan Tan,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/25/2013 | 12:40:01 AM
re: Windows 8 Beats The Mac, Appsolutely
i think a very real reason for apple to draw the line is to prevent mobile and desktop sales from cannibalising each other. Its already happening for iPad and laptops
George Leon
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George Leon,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/15/2012 | 6:03:37 PM
re: Windows 8 Beats The Mac, Appsolutely
Apple has icons, not widgets. Widgets give you useful information without having to open or click anything.
George Leon
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George Leon,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/15/2012 | 6:02:15 PM
re: Windows 8 Beats The Mac, Appsolutely
Yeah, I know, that big Live Tile that says DESKTOP is so confusing. smh...
It is pretty obvious who has used 8 or RT & who is regurgitating the crap they read on their favorite Mac Fan Blog.
jmenard-cc
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jmenard-cc,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/22/2012 | 8:44:07 PM
re: Windows 8 Beats The Mac, Appsolutely
Those XP users will eventually have to transition when their computers are no longer up to snuff
MRODGERS000
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MRODGERS000,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/22/2012 | 12:34:09 PM
re: Windows 8 Beats The Mac, Appsolutely
I do not like Apple or their operating system but I will not embrace Windows 8. I don't need a flashy phone interface for my computers. I think you media types will be the only overjoyed persons to use this interface. I like Windows 7 and plan to use it for a long time. Windows 8 does not seem to be an operating system for the silent majority,
Edwin_Arneson
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Edwin_Arneson,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/21/2012 | 6:19:27 AM
re: Windows 8 Beats The Mac, Appsolutely
This is so wrong. Small devices sacrifice "chrome" due to the limited space. I don't want to run 1 application on a large monitor. I have widgets along the sides that tell me information; I have terminal windows that display status updates; I might be doing several things at once. I don't need to do that on a phone... I do need to do that on my desktop computer. Remember back in the '80s when computers only did 1 thing full screen? We've moved on from there. Metro Win8 is a throwback to the '80s (plus touchiness).
kcwookie
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kcwookie,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/20/2012 | 11:43:21 PM
re: Windows 8 Beats The Mac, Appsolutely
Microsoft is swinging for the fences. After letting their brand fall on hard times, they are trying to catch up in one shot. I don't really care what M$ does, I use W7 sometimes, but it isn't nearly as comfortable to use as OS X. Apple will push forward, but it will be deliberate, and measured, not a rushed one size fits all approach. Mountain Lion and iOS 6 are nice partners. Partners, not OS in miscegenation like W8. I'll take my Mac any day.
Page 1 / 8   >   >>
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