Just in time for the holiday season this year, both Microsoft and Apple released new operating systems. For Microsoft, the black plague otherwise known as Vista is finally in the rearview mirror with the release of Windows 7. This operating system had actually been available for free for over the last 14 months as part of a public beta to ensure stability and driver support. Snow Leopard was released amid fanfare of new “true” 64-bit support and a pain-free upgrade for all Apple users.
As many know, Windows 7 was built with the same foundation as Vista, with everything else inside of it totally revamped. Apple sees Snow Leopard as a new operating system, while most in the industry see it as the latest OS X upgrade that adds new features and performance tweaks. It’s time to break down both operating systems. Who’s better and which OS will win the war?
Startup and Shutdown
There’s no question that Windows 7 has the best startup and shutdown times of any operating system Microsoft has ever released. It’s a true night and day difference between this OS and Vista. Apple’s Snow Leopard really didn’t address specific startup and shutdown times, mainly because there was never a problem to begin with. Apple did say that wakeup time from “sleeping” computers would be doubly fast.
The good news for space savers is that both Windows 7 and Snow Leopard are designed to take up less of your hard drive than previous versions. When Apple users install Snow Leopard, they are expected to get back about six gigabytes of space. Our own test of a MacBook Pro upgrade yielded seven gigs, proving that Apple has successfully streamlined its OS to a great degree. The footprint of Windows 7 seems to be less than that of Vista and while Microsoft has recommended a requirement of 16 GB for installation, the actual amount seems to be 6 GB to 8 GB from industry reports.
All users that purchase Windows 7 will receive 32-bit and 64-bit editions of the software on separate DVDs. Users that will want more than 4 GB of RAM will have to use the 64-bit of Windows 7, which might run into compatibility issues with software that may or may not support that environment. Snow Leopard pretty much transitions OS X into an actual full 64-bit environment, which is something Apple has been big on during its press conferences.
Intelligent Processor Handling
There have been adjustments made in Windows 7 to improve parallel processing. That’s good news for people that like things to process and run faster. Apple, on the other hand, had extensive updates for this same process and gave it a catchy name in Grand Central Dispatch (GCD). The idea that Apple has is that GCD will make it easier for app developers to utilize technology to improve their products. Even the graphics processing is handled different with these two operating systems. Apple is using the OpenCL language so programmers can get more out of graphics cards, which is a big part of the Snow Leopard upgrade. Windows 7 also uses graphics cards better than Vista with its native GPU-accelerated transcoding. When DirectX 11 hits in July of 2010, we’ll see even more from Microsoft computers.
Laptop Battery Life
The good news for millions of laptop users is that Windows 7 has promised to improve battery life by a minimum of 11%. The good news for Apple users is that all new MacBooks are shipping with higher capacity batteries.
This is where the folks from Apple win out, although Microsoft would call the comparison unfair. Snow Leopard is just a $29 upgrade, which will work on any Leopard computer. If you are still using Tiger, you’ll have to purchase the box set of Snow Leopard for $169.
Windows 7 has been released in different versions, adding to confusion for consumers. The Windows 7 Ultimate edition costs $220, while the Professional costs $200. The Windows 7 Home Premium edition will cost you $120. All of these operating systems will upgrade a user from either XP or Vista to the new edition. Microsoft would cry foul in this comparison because they believe that Snow Leopard is a service pack, while Windows 7 is a brand new operating system.