Windows 10 looks exciting. It reintroduces real desktop search, includes multiple desktops and adds a start menu with live tile “widgets”.
Unfortunately it’s not scheduled for release until the middle of 2015 at the earliest, but Microsoft fans need not worry. You can have all these features and more right now if you swallow your pride and buy a Mac instead.
Why View Tasks When You Can Control Missions?
In 2003 an awesome feature called Exposé was added to Mac OS X Panther. Its announcement was met with cheers, and for good reason; finally, someone had figured out how to handle multiple windows elegantly with the tap of a button!
Exposé was great, but for some reason the folks at Microsoft ignored it and never added a similar feature to Windows. Then Apple introduced a revision called Mission Control in 2011 which folded the operating system’s multiple desktops feature (Spaces) into Exposé. This lets users manage multiple windows organized across multiple desktops on a single machine. It’s awesome.
So awesome, in fact, that Microsoft has finally put effort into copying it with Task View, a new option in Windows 10 that provides an overview of open windows and adds support for multiple desktops. Microsoft is a mere twelve years behind Cupertino. It’s not (yet) as elegant as Apple’s implementation, but hey – it’s a start.
Searching Your Desktop? Get A Mac
Okay, you’re right – Windows did desktop search first. Whether the version found in Windows XP was as good as the first version of Spotlight for OS X, which came in 2004, is debatable, but this is an area where Microsoft innovated more quickly.
The company destroyed that advantage with Windows 8, however, by turning desktop search into a weird sidebar tool designed for use on tablets rather than desktops and laptops. The result was a search feature that generally provided less useful information than the version which preceded it. Apple took this opportunity to leap ahead of its competitor with a revision of Spotlight that turns desktop search into a prominent window that displays result from both the local machine and the Internet.
Microsoft is trying to patch the damage it did with Windows 10, but it’s now way behind the curve. Spotlight in OS X Yosemite (which will soon hit full release) is smooth, beautiful and so useful it can answer many of your search queries without opening a thing (or browser). Ask it how many ounces are in a pound, for example, and the answer appears instantly in the middle of the display.
I guess it’s possible that Windows 10 will fix desktop search and catch up with Spotlight, but why wait for a year to find out? You can enjoy Spotlight in OS X today.
Notifications Right Now
Windows 10 is rumored to have a notifications view. Whether it will or won’t is still unknown, but leaked screenshots show the feature in some stage of development though the Technical Preview does not yet include it.
There’s no need to worry about this feature with OS X. Notifications have been available for several years and, with OS X Yosemite, they can be viewed and dismissed in a well-organized Notifications Center. This includes not only notifications from locally installed apps but also those from apps on a connected iPhone or iPad. You can view and reply to text messages or even return a phone call.
Personally I’d say there’s a 100% chance that Windows 10 will offer a similar features by the time it’s released. Even if it does, connectivity with mobile notifications will only be possible if you own a Windows Phone. Do you own or want to own a Windows Phone? For most people invested in the iOS or Android ecosystem, this will be a resounding “no”.
We’ve Got Your Widgets Right Here
Windows had a fling with widgets back in the Windows Vista era, but gave up on them entirely by the time Windows 8 rolled out. In theory this is because Live Tiles are basically widgets – they can display new information in real time, but they aren’t interactive and this reduces their usefulness.
OS X Yosemite, meanwhile, offers widgets through its Notification Center. These display and provide access to the calendar, weather, a calculator, stock prices, social networking services and much more once third party developers sink their teeth in. And because they are proper widgets – rather than just live tiles – they’re interactive in ways Windows 10 will never support.
Don’t Worry, It’s Always Free
Fans of Windows have spent the last week mashing keyboards in arguments about whether Windows 10 will be or should be free. Windows 8.1 was, but it was basically a Service Pack. Windows 10 is an entirely new version with a new name. This might mean it’ll be sold like previous editions, but if that’s true Windows 8 users will be bitter. Why pay money to restore features found in Windows 7?
All of this worry can be avoided with a Mac. Apple has already announced that OS X updates are free and the company is following a once-a-year release schedule. Mac owners will be using the OS X 10.11 release preview (and perhaps even the release version) by the time Microsoft fans get their mitts on Windows 10 – and who knows what other features Apple will have unleashed by then.
Are You A Desktop User? Apple Cares About You
It’s ironic we’ve come to a point where Apple seems to care far more about desktop and laptop owners than Microsoft. Windows defined the PC and remains its most-used operating system, so you’d think Microsoft would focus on its core.
That’s not what happened. Microsoft instead neglected its most dedicated fans in a misguided pursuit of mobile marketshare. The Windows 8 project has been a total waste of time for users interested in desktops instead of tablets.
Apple has used this mistake as an opportunity. Instead of trying to build one operating system for everything, they’ve focused on the needs of their most dedicated users. There is one company with a desktop operating system that has never abandoned its most loyal users, and its name is Apple.
What do you think: Windows 10 or OS X?