Apple can only boast around 9 or 10% of the market share when it comes to operating systems, as opposed to its arch rival Microsoft who command a staggering 90% with Linux making up the difference. But does this mean that Windows is better? In short… no. However, this is no place for short answers, so in this review I’m going to explain precisely why.
Firstly, one of the main advantages of using Mac OS X over the more commonly used Windows, is that for the most part, it is virus-proof, for now. By this I mean that so few people actually use OS X, it is not worthwhile for hackers or malicious users to construct viruses and spy-ware for OS X when they can stretch to wider audience that use Windows. Furthermore, I believe it is fair to say that crashes are somewhat infrequent when compared their Redmond rivals OS.
It differs hugely from Windows. The latest release of Mac OS X, 10.6 or Snow Leopard, was based almost entirely on the previous release. The only real differences were the upgrade to solely 64-bit platforms as well as some enhanced aesthetics. However, the previous release was pretty impressive itself with some brilliant features which led to it becoming widely recognised as the world’s most advanced operating system. This was even acknowledged by Microsoft’s Bill Gates!
Clearly, there are too many features to list in one review, but the first which I believe deserves a mention is the dock. The dock is basically an application launcher. You can place upon it shortcuts to your favourite applications. By default you have the likes of Safari (Web Browser) and the iLife suite which features the likes of iTunes (Media Player), iCal (Calendars) and Mail (e-Mail client) as well as a few more of the flagship applications. Upon the dock you can also place folders which you can simply drag and drop from finder, Apple’s answer to Windows explorer.
This leads me on to the next feature, stacks. Stacks are an intuitive way of navigating through your files and folders without having to leave the desktop. A folder placed upon the dock will expand into a stack in either grid or list view. It displays everything that is in the particular folder and since the release of snow leopard; you can now navigate through sub-folders too.
Expose is another quite brilliant feature of OS X. It allows for simple window management; for example, with just a click of a button or a short movement of the cursor, display thumbnails of all open windows and select between them as well as minimizing the others. As well as that, you can allocate instructions to each corner of the screen that are activated when the cursor is placed over the respective corner. These instructions include turning off the display, viewing widgets upon the ‘dashboard’ or viewing your ‘spaces’ which are numerous desktops on which you can place different applications and keep them out of the way.
Spotlight is a great feature of OS X. You hard drive is constantly indexed by OS X and spotlight allows you to locate any documents, files, folders, programs etc. from your desktop by simply searching the name into the search bar displayed in the top right of the screen.
Another of my favourite things about OS X is the ease of installing and un-installing applications. For the majority of apps you can install them by simply dragging the icon to your applications folder which can be placed upon the dock. They can be un-installed again by simply dragging them to the trash (OS X recycle bin equivalent) Furthermore, Hard Drives, Optical drives and removable drives can all be accessed from the desktop without any of it causing unnecessary clutter.
The built in Quicktime video player now also has video recording and screen capture capabilities which make it perfect for professionals or amateurs shooting and editing videos. OS X also has native support for Microsoft Exchange. Something that will be of great use to businesses using the suite.
Other great features are the ability to share drives between multiple systems running OS X wirelessly from all over the world. Say you are away on vacation and you have taken your portable Mac with you, you can remotely access the drive of an OS X system at home and watch movies, listen to music or edit files. You can also share an optical drive which is useful if you are the owner of a Macbook Air. Apple’s thin laptop that has no optical drive built in.
With all the great features that are included in OS X and there are many these are just a few, perhaps the most impressive thing overall is the graphical user interface. Aesthetically it is nothing short of exceptional and the latest release added even more nice touches. For example, when moving icons around the desktop, they now glide not snap and there are many other small additions which make it an increasingly pleasurable experience when using OS X.
Overall it is a great operating system and I would certainly recommend the switch over from Windows if you are becoming tired of it. I have recently made the change myself and although I do run Windows 7 as well, I couldn’t imagine not using OS X anymore. It really is just that good. The full version of OS X snow leopard costs just $30 which is 1/5 of the price of Windows 7. The simplicity of OS X is epitomized by the fact that there is only, yes just one version. Not starter, home premium, professional and ultimate and nothing of the sort. Just one version which will work on any Macintosh computer.