Mac OS X vs Win Vista

  • PERFORMANCE

We find our protagonists standing toe-to-toe, fury burning in their eyes; the maiden having fainted in terror. Baron Vista’s loss in the battle for security leads him to challenge Count OS X to hand-to-hand combat. Fists will fly, noses will be broken and locals will gawk in wonder as our heroes trade blows. Who is faster? Who is stronger?

It isn’t immediately obvious who has the performance advantage. Count OS X used to be rather unfit in days gone by, partly because of his fondness for the PowerPC processor. He’s since cleaned up his act and adopted the healthier Intel processor favoured by the Baron. This makes our combatants evenly matched.

Will Count OS X prove to be more of a lover than a fighter? Would he rather compose a sonnet for the affections of the maiden than resort to fisticuffs? Or is Vista just a big ungainly blunderbuss who couldn’t punch his way out of a paper bag? We like seeing people hurt themselves more than we like poetry — let’s see what happens when they trade blows.

Count OS X puts up a good fight, but is pummelled mercilessly. Dizzy with pain and barely able to see Baron Vista wooing an impressed maiden, the count ponders why he was beaten. Both have lightning fists and quick responses.

We can find a winner even without resorting to talk of clock cycles and gigaflops. PCs are definitely the place to go if you want the latest technology.

PCs were privileged to the first Intel Core and Core 2 Duo CPUs, they’ve had access to high-speed wireless 802.11n wireless for some time, not to mention high-capacity Blu-ray and HD DVD drives.

OS X is no shrinking violet — it excels in disciplines like video encoding and image processing, and can help you render a 3D necklace of posies really quickly.

Vista is arguably just as good at such foppish tasks, but has superior gaming abilities. Frag-happy mouse jockies are better off with a Windows PC because all the best graphics cards and games are released there before they’re released for OS X. Vista looks set to extend its lead in this area even further with forthcoming DirectX 10 games.

Baron Vista takes the win.

Score: Mac OS X-1, Windows Vista-1

  • USABILITY

Our heroes are wielding their swords to see how their respective operating systems fare as tools.

Count OS X reckons his OS is the epitome of logical design. Baron Vista disagrees, but they both have their foibles. Why on earth in OS X is the menu bar for any given application not attached to the application itself? Why is it fixed to the top of the screen, detached from the very thing it controls? Why in Vista do you have to click the ‘Start’ button when you want to stop using the PC?

Call us a little twisted, but we want them both to bleed in this round. Let’s see who haemorrhages most.

Swords clash, sparks fly and men grunt, but the showdown ends in stalemate.

Take Vista. It has a far better user interface than XP — the file and application search facility is vastly improved and the cascading Start menu has been banished, but it only takes a few moments of use to discover pointless idiosyncrasies.

Microsoft constantly reminds us of how great Flip 3D is, but this feature doesn’t help us find the right application window much faster than Alt-Tab did. It’s very time consuming when you have many application windows to flip through, and it’s in no way as efficient as OS X’s Expos√© feature.

Vista annoys us with its questionable stability, too. Yes, it’s more robust than XP, and yes, the OS itself doesn’t crash very often. But the applications that run on the OS are as prone to hang as ever. If this was a real sword fight and Baron Vista’s sword temporarily stopped responding, it’s doubtful Count OS X would stop to let him press ctrl-alt-del.

OS X doesn’t do itself many favours, though. Why, after all these years can you not resize documents or applications by clicking any corner of the window? Why does Apple subscribe to the ‘mystery meat’ school of navigation, where the ‘minimise’, ‘maximise’ and ‘close window’ buttons at the top-left of a pane all look identical until you hover over them? Why doesn’t the delete key let you delete files? Why instead do we have to press the Apple plus backspace keys? Using OS X is, at times, a bit like eating in the dark.

Oh, and where are the OS X games? And why does Front Row feel like the poor, backwards relation of Windows Media Center?

We’re calling this one a draw. They’re just as good as each other, and in some cases just as bad — a pox upon both your houses!

Score: Mac OS X-2, Windows Vista-2

  • FINALE

With one victory a piece, plus a share of the spoils in the previous battle, Baron Vista and Count OS X are level pegging. Maiden Mainstream is more confused than ever about which of her potential suitors is the right one.

In a moment of weakness, Count OS X offers her the option of having them both in Parallels — himself for everyday purposes, and Baron Vista in a sandbox when she wants to slum it.

This solution vexes the maiden — she’s infuriated by the suggestion that she should play the field like a cheap seductress and wants a conclusion to this bloody business post haste.

There’s only one thing left to do — our heroes will have to pull out their best hardware. It’s time for pistols at dawn.

The maiden counts to ten, her voice trembling with fear. Our combatants take ten paces and it’s Baron Vista who turns first. He discharges his weapon a fraction of a second before Count OS X can pull the trigger, striking the Apple follower in the leg, drawing blood and ruining his outfit. This is the most hurtful injury an OS X user could endure.

The reasons behind this outcome are manifold. Count OS X had other things on his mind at the time of the shootout. He was perturbed by his Internet service provider’s lack of support for Macs, and he was annoyed that his poncy outfit, which he paid over the odds for, was soiled during the fray.

There’s also an element of karma to it. According to Greenpeace (click here for PDF), PCs are greener than their Mac brethren. A Mac “scores badly on almost all criteria”, and Apple “fails to embrace the precautionary principle, withholds its full list of regulated substances and provides no timelines for eliminating toxics polyvinyl chloride (PVC)”.

Vista Wins!

Score: Mac OS X-2, Windows Vista-3

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