Forget The Snow: Windows 7 Is Behind Mac OS X Leopard

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I don’t know why Microsoft is worried about Snow Leopard. They want to dismiss it as a “service pack” or some such nonsense, but they’re worried about the wrong OS in my opinion.

Microsoft should be worried about Leopard. Yep, plain ol’ Leopard, without the snow. In my eyes Windows 7 is still behind that OS, so Snow Leopard will just be gravy on top of Apple’s lead.

Sure, Windows 7 is an improved OS. Perhaps, as Steve Ballmer says, it’s even Vista done right. But what does that mean? While no one thought Vista would be the failure it is, neither did anyone think it would be particularly special. So if they’ve finally done it “right” that only makes it the XP successor we should have had five years ago. Even with the whiz-bang features added, it’s lack of polish is evident.

Here’s a sample of what I miss from Leopard when I’m working on Windows 7:

  • One-click access to my most common folders (i.e., can’t add folders directly to the taskbar);
  • No folder springload capability;
  • No QuickLook;
  • No stacks with a graphical or hierarchical view of folders;
  • No easy way to keep the screen uncluttered via virtual desktops (instead I must minimize windows to get things out of the way);
  • The taskbar scrolls (ugh!) when it runs out of space, instead of elegantly resizing to fit;
  • No easy way to see all windows at once.
  • I can see the whole desktop, but it’s only for viewing, whereas on the Mac it’s “live”;
  • I can Command-Tab to switch apps, but on the Mac that’s “live” as well.

So even with Aero Peek and the new taskbar, Windows 7 is not very “smart”. Why not let you pin folders? Why not show all my windows? To me these are obvious details that Microsoft just didn’t think of, or can’t implement on the aging Windows code base. Meanwhile, it’s the attention to detail Apple’s famous for. I use these things without thinking about them, and miss them on a system from 2009 that sometimes seems to have been designed a decade earlier.

Windows 7 adds nice enhancements over Vista, but not the Mac. For me it’s nowhere near the Mac even just in terms of keeping your apps, folders, files, desktop and windows under control; too many clicks are still required.

Windows 7 runs fine, has been stable, no viruses (yet), and I can’t imagine anyone using the new taskbar for more than 60 seconds and not thinking it’s miles ahead of the old one. Still, it’s only a start and there’s a long way to go. Snow Leopard isn’t even needed for this round.

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