How Mountain Lion stacks up against Windows 8

With the Windows 8 Consumer Preview right around the corner, Apple decided to one-up Microsoft and release a beta of their own OS X Lion out of nowhere today. How's that for an unusual event in February? The folks over at Microsoft News have come up with a pretty cool comparison of the two upcoming OSes.

Although both of the OS' are headed towards more integration with the companies' respective mobile products, Apple has created a very interesting situation with Messages. Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger and Skype (both of which will probably end up being more integrated in the future) easily matches up in terms of features, Apple has made a one size fits all solution. On the Microsoft side of things, Windows 8 will feature a messaging hub similar to Windows Phones', sans the ability to communicate with other devices via a service like iMessage.

Despite some bugs in Mountain Lion's Messages, Apple has essentially brought free SMS to the desktop (or, alternatively, your lap). iMessage was a well received feature when it came to the iPhone and other iOS devices, since it freed users from needing an expensive messaging plan so long as all of their friends also happened to be using iDevices, but by coming full circle and bringing it to the Mac, Apple has created a really awesome feature.

Mountain Lion's Game Center will bring iOS' gaming hub, which has been pretty successful among more or less casual gamers, but Windows 8 will come equipped with an Xbox Live hub. Microsoft hasn't been quite as sucessful with its Live platform on PCs as it has on Xbox consoles, being overshadowed by the likes of Steam and EA's (much hated) Origin. Whether or not Windows 8 will change that remains to be seen, but Game Center brings a whole new level of integration between mobile and desktop gaming, which is going to be awesome for anyone who spends a lot of time playing games on their iDevices and happens to also own a Mac.

One place where Microsoft definitely has Apple beat is social network integration. Apple's love affair with Twitter continues with Mountain Lion, which brings over iOS' sharing button, but Microsoft's solution is much more robust. Share Contract will make it possible for developers to build in sharing features to support pretty much any social network or other type of service, which will make it a lot easier to share the content you love with your friends.

Depending on your viewpoint, Live Tiles might come across as more elegant than Mountain Lion's Notification Center, but that's more a matter of taste than anything else. Both are fully capable of keeping you up to date and informed with what's going on inside your apps, but Microsoft's solution will let you check if you have any new messages without being distracted by that new floor you were building in Tiny Tower. On the other hand, others will prefer Notification Center, since it brings everything together in one tidy pile that mostly stays out of the way when you don't need it.

Perhaps the most notable contrast between the two OSes (all visuals aside) is the way they link up with the two company's cloud services. Right now, iCloud offers a much easier to use platform that keeps your files and documents in sync across your devices with very little input needed from the user. Some people have been pretty troubled by this approach, especially when it comes to Photostream, which pushes every photo on your device to iCloud, with no ability to delete them.

Microsoft's Skydrive, on the other hand, is much more flexible, letting users upload up to 25 GB of whatever they want (provided the individual files are 50 MB or smaller). On the other hand, it takes a lot more attention to keep everything in sync, particularly across different platforms. iCloud users expect their files and documents to 'just be there' on all of their devices, with no hassle to them. This accomplished through deep integration with the OS, which is why the iCloud experience isn't quite so elegant or simple on non-Apple devices.

As it is now, one of the great things about Skydrive is that it's powerful enough to serve as a place to dump - err, backup - important files, regardless of their format or content. Creating a simpler rival to iCloud could be as simple as cordoning off a few gigabytes of a user's Skydrive for use with particular software and file types, much as Windows Live Mesh gives users 5 gigabytes separate from the rest of their storage.

2012 is shaping up to be a really great year to be a user of either platform. With both companies working to integrate their mobile and desktop platforms with their cloud services, we're set for a feature war that's going to end up with everyone having some really cool new toys to play with - and that's not even accounting for Android.

Even if Apple no longer considers Microsoft to be a 'threat' (which was probably intended to point out the differences in their approaches and userbase, rather than being an arrogant offhand remark), both of them are going to be working very hard to keep from being upstaged by the other and to provide the best experience they possible can.

And despite the usual cliché of Microsoft 'borrowing' Apple's ideas, the new OS X Gatekeeper icon will look strangely familiar to users of Microsoft Security Essentials...

Images courtesy of Apple, Microsoft, Microsoft News & Tom Warren.

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Guys how many times does this have to be said you can revert to the old type of start menu with a simple registry tweak no big deal and its exactly the same as windows 7 then.

Metro UI is horrid. It just simply doesn't work for me and many others on the desktop. On an xbox, yea it works perfectly, but the lack of customisation and usability on the Windows 8 version is beyond useless.

djdanster said,
Metro UI is horrid. It just simply doesn't work for me and many others on the desktop. On an xbox, yea it works perfectly, but the lack of customisation and usability on the Windows 8 version is beyond useless.

I haven't tried the dev preview, but just looking at it, I do wonder how it will play on the desktop. For phones and tablets it looks great. It is for tablets to be honest. I'll probably load the consumer preview on my laptop.

Hard to compare the two. Apple is taking an entirely different path with OS X. Microsoft are trying to suit both tablets and desktops with one OS, Apple aren't. This leads to totally different designs. Personally I enjoy the OS X way more. I don't want my desktop to have a load of stuff basically just intended for tablets.

Northgrove said,
Hard to compare the two. Apple is taking an entirely different path with OS X. Microsoft are trying to suit both tablets and desktops with one OS, Apple aren't. This leads to totally different designs. Personally I enjoy the OS X way more. I don't want my desktop to have a load of stuff basically just intended for tablets.

All Metro-style apps must fully support both touch and mouse and keyboard input or they will fail the windows store certification process.

Mountain Lion has a distinct Windows ME feel to it. i.e. It's the old OS quickly rehashed with a few dubious renamed features.
Surely the greatest feature of Windows 8 is it's touch interface, something OSX ML doesn't have (yet?)

Mateus said,
Mountain Lion has a distinct Windows ME feel to it. i.e. It's the old OS quickly rehashed with a few dubious renamed features.
Surely the greatest feature of Windows 8 is it's touch interface, something OSX ML doesn't have (yet?)

Wow, Windows ME... Well, I hope that the features in Mountain Lion actually work unlike most of the features of ME... I'm a Windows user, and that has to be the worst Windows release ever... lol

Mateus said,
Mountain Lion has a distinct Windows ME feel to it. i.e. It's the old OS quickly rehashed with a few dubious renamed features.
Surely the greatest feature of Windows 8 is it's touch interface, something OSX ML doesn't have (yet?)

The worst feature in Windows 8 is the touch interface. It doesn't help me one bit as a desktop user. Forcing me to use Metro just to get to the start menu - is that a bad joke?

It's good for tablets though. Probably even great. But they should do it like Apple. A mobile OS for mobile devices, a desktop OS for desktop devices. Two different devices with different ways of interacting with them. Differences in interaction demands differences in interfaces.

Anyone who have tried Windows 7 on a tablet knows that it's useless. It's a piece of junk. Horrible crap. You have to interact with small widgets where you press "close" with a thumb when you meant "maximize" because they're right next to each other. You have to touch the thin window frame to resize a window. Bad, bad stuff. And Microsoft is including that part even in their Windows 8 tablet experience. W. T. F. For backwards compatibility I think. That old monster again. Microsoft always had a troubled relationship with backwards compatibility.

Also, try Windows 8 Metro UI on a 27" desktop. What the... A HUGE f'ing display with enormous spaces wasted that doesn't even know what the hell a right-click is. What is going on here? Why do I need this? How is this an improvement beyond the past 20 years of research in desktop interfaces. Why include this "experience" on my desktop!?

It's fascinating why Microsoft didn't choose to build a Windows 8 Desktop Edition vs a Windows 8 Tablet Edition.

There's been ONE moment in Microsoft's history when some Windows Editions were _actually_ warranted, and now they miss the opportunity like a blind goat.

Edited by Northgrove, Feb 17 2012, 3:39pm :

The comparison could not be more biased. It seems like Windows is winning in every single aspect of the OS.

I can't wait to see how users will react to the lack of productivity Windows 8 will cause them on their desktop computers… Plus with this whole Metro interface fiasco, a lot of people will switch to OS X in 2013.

People who will buy Windows 8 are people who own tablets.

PyX said,
The comparison could not be more biased. It seems like Windows is winning in every single aspect of the OS.

I can't wait to see how users will react to the lack of productivity Windows 8 will cause them on their desktop computers… Plus with this whole Metro interface fiasco, a lot of people will switch to OS X in 2013.

People who will buy Windows 8 are people who own tablets.

The fact Windows is winning makes this article instantly biased. What did you want the outcome to be?

The thing is with pinned programs to the taskbar and how most people now search for programs means there is arguably no need for the start button. Im not sure how Windows 8 will be any less productive than Windows 7.

This is perhaps like how Office 2010 and 2007 with the ribbon will be instantly less productive. When in fact its integration and ease to use makes most people far more productive.

PyX said,
The comparison could not be more biased. It seems like Windows is winning in every single aspect of the OS.

And if OS X "were winning in every single aspect of the OS," the article would be biased towards Apple, correct? Just seeing if you're consistent.

If a clear winner is proof of bias, there can be no winners. That's your logic?

PyX said,
I can't wait to see how users will react to the lack of productivity Windows 8 will cause them on their desktop computers… Plus with this whole Metro interface fiasco, a lot of people will switch to OS X in 2013.

People who will buy Windows 8 are people who own tablets.

Two things:

1. You must believe, then, that people who own tablets don't enjoy being productive. I'd like to see you attempt to substantiate that.

2. Switching to OS X in 2013 is a huge claim to make. Anything of substance to back that up? Or are you just attempting to to rile some people up?

PyX said,
The comparison could not be more biased. It seems like Windows is winning in every single aspect of the OS.

I can't wait to see how users will react to the lack of productivity Windows 8 will cause them on their desktop computers… Plus with this whole Metro interface fiasco, a lot of people will switch to OS X in 2013.

People who will buy Windows 8 are people who own tablets.

Sounds like a little bit of bias in your post... I don't know that it's fair then to accuse an article of bias just because it doesn't go your way... How about we all just act like mature adults and go with whichever OS we prefer.

And as for your claim of people going with OS X because of Metro, historically that claim can't really be supported. If people don't like a Windows release they historically wait for one that they do like. They don't go to a platform that they do not know and does not support apps that they use just because they have money burning a hole in their pocket and they NEED to upgrade NOW... It's a silly argument that I thought had died at this point due to lack of support evidence...

M_Lyons10 said,

Sounds like a little bit of bias in your post... I don't know that it's fair then to accuse an article of bias just because it doesn't go your way... How about we all just act like mature adults and go with whichever OS we prefer.

And as for your claim of people going with OS X because of Metro, historically that claim can't really be supported. If people don't like a Windows release they historically wait for one that they do like. They don't go to a platform that they do not know and does not support apps that they use just because they have money burning a hole in their pocket and they NEED to upgrade NOW... It's a silly argument that I thought had died at this point due to lack of support evidence...


Windows 7 hasn't even peaked. Users don't really need to upgrade. iOS is more relevant than OS X.

Taken from article:

Mountain Lion:
Game Center lets you personalize your Mac gaming experience, find new games and challenge friends to play live multiplayer games, whether they're on a Mac, iPhone®, iPad or iPod touch®.

Windows 8:
Windows 8 will feature Xbox LIVE hub which will allow you to personalize your PC gaming experience, find new games and challenge friends to play live multiplayer games, whether they're on a PC or Windows Phone or a Xbox. Xbox LIVE currently has over 45 million active users.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This will never work on PC because Steam and Origin have their own Gaming Hub to do all these things. It just happens that 98% of PC games are sold there and Steam/Origins have all the functions described above. Who cares about Mobile Games and 45 Million Active users on XBOX live, PC hard games for sure not.


Taken from Article:

Notification Center:

Mountain Lion:
Mountain Lion presents notifications in an elegant new way, and Notification Center provides easy access to alerts from Mail, Calendar, Messages, Reminders, system updates and third party apps.

Windows 8:
Microsoft doesn't believe in providing a dump place for app notifications, instead apps will have their own Live tiles which will provide the latest updates. You can see how a Mountain Lion home screen & Windows 8 Start screen will look like from the images on the top. I prefer live tiles over sea of icons spread over my 27inch monitor.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Apple wins here big time.

techguy77 said,


Windows 8:
Windows 8 will feature Xbox LIVE hub which will allow you to personalize your PC gaming experience, find new games and challenge friends to play live multiplayer games, whether they're on a PC or Windows Phone or a Xbox. Xbox LIVE currently has over 45 million active users.

Steam and Origin are Malware IMO. The latest iteration of Games for Windows Live basically turns your PC with an Xbox Controller into a juiced up Xbox 360 with the familiar voice, messaging, achievements, etc. and isn't a resource hog or security risk. I love GFWL. Looks like it'll be even sweeter integrated into Windows 8.

How sorry is Steam? Just bought rage, labeled as Games for Windows (without the Live!). Bought it on Amazon, get it and on the back in small print, Steam account require to activate. Trash bin. No wonder Rage is a flop.

MorganX said,

Steam and Origin are Malware IMO. The latest iteration of Games for Windows Live basically turns your PC with an Xbox Controller into a juiced up Xbox 360 with the familiar voice, messaging, achievements, etc. and isn't a resource hog or security risk. I love GFWL. Looks like it'll be even sweeter integrated into Windows 8.

How dare you lump Steam with Origin
I'm telling Gaben what you said, and he won't be happy.

techguy77 said,
Taken from article:

Mountain Lion:
Game Center lets you personalize your Mac gaming experience, find new games and challenge friends to play live multiplayer games, whether they're on a Mac, iPhone®, iPad or iPod touch®.

Windows 8:
Windows 8 will feature Xbox LIVE hub which will allow you to personalize your PC gaming experience, find new games and challenge friends to play live multiplayer games, whether they're on a PC or Windows Phone or a Xbox. Xbox LIVE currently has over 45 million active users.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This will never work on PC because Steam and Origin have their own Gaming Hub to do all these things. It just happens that 98% of PC games are sold there and Steam/Origins have all the functions described above. Who cares about Mobile Games and 45 Million Active users on XBOX live, PC hard games for sure not.


Taken from Article:

Notification Center:

Mountain Lion:
Mountain Lion presents notifications in an elegant new way, and Notification Center provides easy access to alerts from Mail, Calendar, Messages, Reminders, system updates and third party apps.

Windows 8:
Microsoft doesn't believe in providing a dump place for app notifications, instead apps will have their own Live tiles which will provide the latest updates. You can see how a Mountain Lion home screen & Windows 8 Start screen will look like from the images on the top. I prefer live tiles over sea of icons spread over my 27inch monitor.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Apple wins here big time.

And the 10 epic games for OS X will make it the all time choice for gamers.

Of course they all run 10-20% slower than the PC versions too, but with that many games, it will be so awesome awesome.

Geesh...

There is more to gaming than Angry birds and sharing high scores with friends.

remixedcat said,
lookin forward to both but a windows 8 tablet would be awesome to have this x-mas.....

I agree. I want one very badly. Hopefully it won't be too expensive... :-\

M_Lyons10 said,

I agree. I want one very badly. Hopefully it won't be too expensive... :-\

same here. what do you think the prices are gonna be?

tuneslover said,
Metro UI is really more beautiful than OS X, no doubt.

Problem with it is that it's new... people hate new things. it will be a while before people start to like it and before developers learn how to fully utilize it.

hint: my VMs can have their own live tiles giving me some basic information about the VM and maybe even a little control... The possibilities are endless, I hope developers come around.

subcld said,

Metro love you too

HAHAHA

I like Metro too. I think it has a learning curve, but the vast majority of people I think are going to like it.

I'm more excited to see what Microsoft is doing than Apple. They've won me over with the Windows Phone and I'm just dying to see what Windows 8 is going to have in store.

srprimeaux said,
I'm more excited to see what Microsoft is doing than Apple. They've won me over with the Windows Phone and I'm just dying to see what Windows 8 is going to have in store.

Exactly. When I watch Star Trek Next Generation, the interfaces look a lot like Metro but with rounded corners. Obviously Microsoft has acquired some kind of a time machine and they are bringing us the future of user experience.

Enron said,

Exactly. When I watch Star Trek Next Generation, the interfaces look a lot like Metro but with rounded corners. Obviously Microsoft has acquired some kind of a time machine and they are bringing us the future of user experience.

I still find that some of the video about the future of OSes and computers MS showed few years ago like this one :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXzY2EU023Y

by far more futuristic than Metro.
Do not get me wrong, I am not negative about Metro; for now I am intrigued.......

Fritzly said,

I still find that some of the video about the future of OSes and computers MS showed few years ago like this one :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXzY2EU023Y

by far more futuristic than Metro.
Do not get me wrong, I am not negative about Metro; for now I am intrigued.......

Wow, the features are nice, but that UX is horrendous... I'll go with Metro... I like all of this work Microsoft is doing in UX though, I'm very excited to see what comes of it.

Sorry but why is iMessage any special? Have you seen on used Messaging on Windows Phone which is essentially what Windows 8 will have?

dhan said,
Sorry but why is iMessage any special? Have you seen on used Messaging on Windows Phone which is essentially what Windows 8 will have?

I know! You can already send free text messages to Windows Phones, even from the Windows desktop, using Facebook Chat. It shows up in the Messaging hub just like a normal SMS text message.

dhan said,
Sorry but why is iMessage any special? Have you seen on used Messaging on Windows Phone which is essentially what Windows 8 will have?

Google had Gtalk in their androids for years as well, it worked very much seamless.

rfirth said,

I know! You can already send free text messages to Windows Phones, even from the Windows desktop, using Facebook Chat. It shows up in the Messaging hub just like a normal SMS text message.

random_ said,

Google had Gtalk in their androids for years as well, it worked very much seamless.

Yeah, so we're agreed then that this is nothing special at this point? LOL

random_ said,

Google had Gtalk in their androids for years as well, it worked very much seamless.

Nah you are missing the point. When apple did it, it was innovation. when others did it, they just used their time machines to copy apple's idea from the future.

capr said,

Nah you are missing the point. When apple did it, it was innovation. when others did it, they just used their time machines to copy apple's idea from the future.

LOL!

Enron said,
I'm so excited about Metro and all the integration coming to Windows.

Same here. I'm very excited by how all of this integration will affect the .Net Framework too. Hopefully they expose a lot of this to developers.

FrozenEclipse said,

No one cares what you think.

All the +1's and then then "+ over 9000" and you guys bitch about that. Classy. Great to see what this site is becoming. Thanks for that.

It's certainly interesting to see Windows and OS X diverging so much. Up 'til now the user experiences of both have been pretty similar with the WIMP approach. The weird situation Microsoft has created with Metro, is that in some ways (obviously ignoring the classic desktop here), the user experience in OS X is now more like that of the Windows that users are used to, than Windows 8 in Metro will be.

singularity87 said,
It's certainly interesting to see Windows and OS X diverging so much. Up 'til now the user experiences of both have been pretty similar with the WIMP approach. The weird situation Microsoft has created with Metro, is that in some ways (obviously ignoring the classic desktop here), the user experience in OS X is now more like that of the Windows that users are used to, than Windows 8 in Metro will be.

In some way your right in others ways Windows 8 is less resource intensive then Windows 7 while OS X is now more resource intensive then Windows 8. They are dropping support for some computers made 3 years ago.

It seems to be more that Mountain Lion won't have the drivers to support the older Macs since Apple doesn't want to maintain them (to sell new hardware), though doubtless they'll claim it's to guarantee a better experience. I don't imagine that the resource demands have increased all that much in terms of raw power from Lion - in Snow Leopard Apple focussed on reducing them.
Windows' drivers are developed by third parties who want their hardware to still sell when the latest and greatest comes out (up to a point - eventually they want people to buy new kit too).
Windows 8 is looking seriously impressive in terms of scalability - I've seen reports of it working in 64MB RAM, and it seems to be broadly compatible with Windows 7 drivers.

singularity87 said,
It seems to be more that Mountain Lion won't have the drivers to support the older Macs since Apple doesn't want to maintain them (to sell new hardware), though doubtless they'll claim it's to guarantee a better experience. I don't imagine that the resource demands have increased all that much in terms of raw power from Lion - in Snow Leopard Apple focussed on reducing them.
Windows' drivers are developed by third parties who want their hardware to still sell when the latest and greatest comes out (up to a point - eventually they want people to buy new kit too).
Windows 8 is looking seriously impressive in terms of scalability - I've seen reports of it working in 64MB RAM, and it seems to be broadly compatible with Windows 7 drivers.

Agreed. It sounds like Microsoft has put a TON of work into making Windows 8 as scalable as possible, which is really great. It's a shame that Apple is dropping so much hardware, but maybe they'll reverse this decision. I would be pretty annoyed if I were affected as a Mac user.

"One place where Microsoft definitely has Apple beat is social network integration."
I swear to God, the first time my windows machine posts "Rudie is watching "Raunchy Twinks III" using Windows Media Player" on my facebook timeline, im sooo putting ubuntu on this thing,

singularity87 said,
lol - Ubuntu also has social networking integration. We cannot escape . . .

Sure we can, we just have to switch to "hardcore oses" like Minix and so on

Rudie32 said,
"One place where Microsoft definitely has Apple beat is social network integration."
I swear to God, the first time my windows machine posts "Rudie is watching "Raunchy Twinks III" using Windows Media Player" on my facebook timeline, im sooo putting ubuntu on this thing,

Who cares about social networking integration?

OR you could just not set it up that way... just an idea... but if setup as default (probably not) ya, a lot of people could be embarrassed

Rudie32 said,
"One place where Microsoft definitely has Apple beat is social network integration."
I swear to God, the first time my windows machine posts "Rudie is watching "Raunchy Twinks III" using Windows Media Player" on my facebook timeline, im sooo putting ubuntu on this thing,

Rudie32 said,
"One place where Microsoft definitely has Apple beat is social network integration."
I swear to God, the first time my windows machine posts "Rudie is watching "Raunchy Twinks III" using Windows Media Player" on my facebook timeline, im sooo putting ubuntu on this thing,

ROFL!

singularity87 said,
lol - Ubuntu also has social networking integration. We cannot escape . . .

apt-get remove gnome
apt-get install xfce
cowsay "Feelin' Happy"

Rudie32 said,
"One place where Microsoft definitely has Apple beat is social network integration."
I swear to God, the first time my windows machine posts "Rudie is watching "Raunchy Twinks III" using Windows Media Player" on my facebook timeline, im sooo putting ubuntu on this thing,

awesome first comment!

Rudie32 said,
"One place where Microsoft definitely has Apple beat is social network integration."
I swear to God, the first time my windows machine posts "Rudie is watching "Raunchy Twinks III" using Windows Media Player" on my facebook timeline, im sooo putting ubuntu on this thing,

This was exactly what happened when MSN Messenger introduced the "What I'm listening to" feature which would display the title of the media being played in Windows Media Player