Windows 7 from a Mac Guy’s Perspective

By  |  Tuesday, February 3, 2009 at 8:51 am

Windows 7I’m definitely a Mac. Saying that now is kind of weird, considering just three short years ago other than a brief stint in college the last time I used an Apple computer was in Elementary School. Apple’s ease of use sucked me in, and although yes there is a learning curve, once you get going  things just work smoother.

No doubt Apple is resurgent at this point. Microsoft needed to do something to stop the bleeding before it would take some permanent damage. As I argued back in December, Windows stood to benefit from some Mac-like functionality, even though some Microsoft pundits seemed to disagree.

Now actually having the OS in front of me, I can honestly say for the first time in a long time I am impressed with Microsoft. Windows 7 actually is pretty slick. Instead of consisting merely of window dressing, this time it actually appears as if it may be worth it to upgrade.

At least at face value, it appears to answer most of my concerns about Windows in general. Microsoft has paid a great deal of attention to usability. For example, many processes are needlessly multiple click marathons in previous OSes.

In Windows 7, Microsoft is putting a lot of the functions right in front of you, which in turn makes it much more pleasant to use. Click and done. That’s the beauty of Mac OS, and now (finally) Windows users are getting it.

Could this change the face of Windows development? Could developers actually begin to think more Mac-like, and stop throwing functions into the right click menu (a huge gripe of mine)? I guess time will tell.

In fairness to Microsoft, I need to retract my December comments regarding the Windows version of the dock. Actually using it, rather than looking at a screenshot, Redmond did a bang up job with this. It really works well, and does change the whole Windows experience.

As a matter of function, the former taskbar really had outgrown its useful life. It was a good idea in 1995, as then Windows had grown out of its previous Windows-only method of navigating through opened applications. Each time, the change was needed because we were doing more with our PCs.

This change was necessary as well. Unlike the mid 1990s, it is now common to have dozens of windows open, and multitasking is a much bigger part of our daily lives. The taskbar can only handle so much before it becomes a cluttered mess. Yes, you could group windows of the same application, but even that worked so much just due to the design itself.

It was time for a change.

Microsoft answered this by taking a page from the Mac, and then extending it. Each opened application gets a large icon in the dock. You can choose to either keep it there, or have it appear when you open the application only, just like Mac OS X.

What’s different here is what happens when you click and drag up (try it if you haven’t already). Up pops a vertical menu which allows you to quickly access a feature in the application, whether its open or not. For IE, it shows the history. Explorer gives you a quick list of your frequent applications, Windows Media Player gives you quick access to frequently played files and controls, and so forth.

Apple actually could learn a bit from the method Microsoft did it. This isn’t a copy like I had thought, it actually works better in some ways. My bad, and I will own up to my previous comments.

I think other Windows commentators should also rethink their comments regarding it: using this, it is very user friendly and I am liking it a lot. Calling it a disaster couldn’t be further from the truth in my opinion. Like I said, we need to move past our 1990s way of thinking and understand that computers are used differently than they were when the taskbar first made its appearance in 1995.

Gestures also come in to play elsewhere: drag a small window to the top of the screen and it will maximize for you. drag it to the side, and it will shrink. can’t find a window? Go to the dock, hover over a open application’s icon, then select the window you’re looking for. Everything else goes transparent except for the window. Neat.

There’s one thing here though that I can’t stop thinking, and that’s how Windows 7 makes Vista look. With these enhancements, it really gave me the impression that Vista is almost getting the ‘Me treatment,’ attempting to sweep that operating system under the rug as if it never happened.

Will Vista have that same fate? The operating system so blasphemous no fanboy dare speak thy name? Only time will tell.


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7 Comments For This Post

  1. Patrick Says:

    “whether its open or not” should be:
    “whether it’s open or not”.

  2. Bradey Says:

    Windows 7 is looking great. But i gotta say- i love vista. I feel like the only person in the world who does right now. But lots of basic computer users love vista too.. i mean it looks cool and if your just browsing the web and typing word documents windows vista is perfect. So windows 7 will (hopefully) fulfill all computer user’s needs 😉

  3. szimm Says:

    ““whether its open or not” should be:
    “whether it’s open or not”.”


    anyhow, looking forward to windows 7.

  4. Patrick Says:

    “hover over a open application’s icon” should be: “hover over an open application’s icon”

  5. Jeff Says:

    So it’s more Mac-like, so what?
    Its Windows, so … more viruses, more versions, more dollars, more restrictions, more headaches, more fees, etc. therefore more reasons why I don’t even need to consider it.

  6. Tante Horst Says:

    Its Windows, so … more viruses, more versions, more dollars…

    fully agree! Microsoft apparently didn’t realize that users don’t want a second MacOS. Users switching to Mac are deeply disappointed by MS continuos declining of innovation and quality (a glossy-black GUI is not an innovation, Mr.Ballmer).
    If a computer is only used for webbrowsing and some office tasks, I honestly won’t to pay for a slow, insecure, over-loaded OS. Would buy a Netbook running CloudOS instead!

    There is a time for everything! Windows had it’s time, now we want to see the next level.

  7. Neil Anderson Says:

    Looking forward to Snow Leopard.