Welcome to another one of our new content series, the ‘Versus’ battles. This new series will aim to look at some of the biggest rivalries and competitions of the tech world and let you decide the winners. Though we will try to be as unbiased and objective as possible, personal comments and opinions may still be shared.
For the first post of the new ‘Versus’ content series, allow me to introduce the biggest rivalry of the computer industry. Any discussion about Apple vs Microsoft or macOS Sierra vs Windows 10 always results in heated arguments from fans of either company or operating system. But how exactly do the two differ? What are their strongest and weakest points? These are just some of the questions that we have attempted to answer here. If we have missed anything then feel free to share it with us in the comments below!
Hardware – Design and range
One of the reasons why Apple has won over so many people from creative professions is because its hardware is designed in-house by the legendary Jony Ive. The company has long been known for its careful and stylistic approach to hardware design which has resulted in an iconic look. Many companies have tried to emulate its style but few have come close.
Microsoft, on the other hand, has only recently started to pay attention to hardware design. The recent Surface line of products is a testament to its more meaningful investments in stylish design and the new devices certainly look premium.
Another aspect that has to be considered here is choice. As long as you are willing to pay for the premium Mac models then you will have a valid but ultimately small selection at your disposal. After all, Apple is the only one who designs, produces, and sells its products. On the other hand, there are numerous manufacturers of Windows out there. Some of them, like Dell and HP, manufacture some fantastic devices which do not compromise on looks or hardware. These devices, of course, come at similar premium prices as their Mac counterparts. Finally, there are additional hardware options to consider such as 2-in-1 laptops.
Software – User interface, design, ease-of-use
The Windows vs OS X/macOS debate is as old as the operating systems themselves and for good reason. On the personal computer space, both systems aim to deliver similar performance but have taken decisively different approaches. For the purposes of this post, the comparisons will be limited to each OS’s latest iteration, namely macOS Sierra vs Windows 10.
With Windows 10, Microsoft aimed to weave together the best features of Windows 7 and Windows 8x. The result is quite impressive and I say that as a long-time Windows 7 user who could never get into Windows 8x. The Start Menu looks and works great for the most part while the additions of the Action Centre and the more cohesive Settings menu are both welcome changes. The overall look of the OS is quite stylish and the UI is much more user-friendly than before.
Multi-tasking is easier than ever and Windows 10 offers a lot of customization options in this regard. The updates to Windows Store and Windows Apps are additional steps in the right direction though they still don’t feel as essential or even as usable as they should. The Settings menu that I previously mentioned also works great but it doesn’t feel focused at all. Users will still have to delve into other menus to find hidden options, for instance. And while those who are proficient enough to modify advanced system settings will find a breadth of personalization options, these options are hidden away for the most part.
macOS Sierra is also a fantastic upgrade over the previous versions of Apple’s OS. Multi-tasking is better than it has ever been, for example. The system, like always, feels stable, intuitive, and smoother than Windows. The Control Panel is the one-stop shop for everything you would like to customize though users may be a bit more limited as to what they can actually change. The apps included with the system, such as Safari, are also incredibly polished. The OS feels ready to use right out of the box, particularly for everyday usage. It should be noted here that the library of third-party apps for Windows 10 is immensely huge. However, most everyday users require a device that just works.
In case you also own an iOS device such as an iPhone or an iPad, macOS Sierra gets even better. Tasks such as writing email messages can be started and finished in any one of your devices without a hassle and the iCloud ecosystem is connected in many meaningful ways. Most MacBook owners that I know also possess an iOS device or two and Apple certainly caters to the interests of its users. The Windows 10 Phone Companion app tried to do a similar thing but Apple is way ahead of the game here.
Siri and Cortana are also new additions to macOS Sierra and Windows 10, respectively. Both personal assistants can completely change the way you use your computer as you can now set reminders, get directions, and search for answers without ever typing anything. Cortana and Siri are on equal terms as they are both bound to get better over time. As they stand right now, it’s hard to put one on top of the other so it really boils down to personal preference here.
Gaming is one of the very few areas that has a clear winner. There is no denying that Windows is the hub of PC gaming as the availability of games on macOS is abysmal. Furthermore, Windows 10 has the ability to stream games from both the PS4 and Microsoft’s own Xbox One, making it the undisputable king of gaming in the PC industry.
Of course, most macOS users already know that and I highly doubt anyone buys a MacBook as a gaming device. Video and photo editing and processing are very fluid in macOS though premium Windows 10 devices operate on a very similar level nowadays.
Security and privacy
When Windows 10 came out, Microsoft faced waves upon waves of backlash for its approach towards privacy. The OS has a ton of features that may infringe on user privacy though most of them are optional and can be turned off rather easily. With that said, the everyday user may not be technologically proficient enough to research such options. Thus, the responsibility of protecting its users should fall on Microsoft.
Apple, on the other hand, has made a name for itself as a protector of privacy rights, particularly after its famous stand against the FBI. The company rarely has an interest in acquiring specific user information, in contrast to Microsoft. Apple will now also follow an approach called differential privacy for both macoS Sierra and iOS 10. In essence, this will allow Apple to collect generalized information about usage without identifying specific users through randomized data. Because of all that, Apple certainly triumphs in privacy.
Security is another point that most users would make against Windows. Due to its sheer popularity, open nature, and some rather poor security measures by Microsoft, Windows is a haven for malware and other threats. With a limited user base in the worldwide market, macOS is targeted only by a handful of attackers and is otherwise extremely safe. Exercising common sense and having software like Windows Defender are still enough to protect yourself from most threats. Once again, however, casual users often fall prey to attacks that would be easy to spot by more experienced users.
General points and verdict
Most people have used a single OS for their entire lives and find that switching one for the other can be very frustrating. However, I believe that there are no clear winners in this battle. It all comes down to what a user wants from a device. Privacy-minded consumers who don’t wish to bother with third-party apps and customization may want to choose macOS Sierra. Gaming enthusiasts who wish to put in extra time to configure their computers will most likely appreciate what Windows 10 has to offer.
Other than that, there are many little things that might influence your decision. For instance, those who did not upgrade to Windows 10 during the free upgrade period will now have to fork over quite a lot of cash for the privilege. Meanwhile, macOS Sierra is and will remain an entirely free upgrade. If you want a touch-enabled display then you are pretty much out of luck with macOS Sierra. If you want an OS that will almost never crash and will always work smoothly then you probably better stay away from Windows.
In the end, what we can surmise is that users have never had as much choice in technology as now. While there are always improvements to look forward to, the PC market is at a great place right now. The macOS Sierra vs Windows 10 debate will not end any time soon. Perhaps that is exactly the sort of competition that we need to see more of in the tech industry.