Mac Dock and Windows 7 Superbar - Part 1

Mac Dock and Windows Taskbar Overview

The Dock in OS X Leopard is a bar of icons that sits at the bottom or side of the screen, and employs a 3D perspective. The Dock is a prominent feature of OS X. It is also a prominent feature of Mac OS X's predecessors NeXTSTEP and OPENSTEP operating systems.

It is primarily a way to launch and switch between running applications. It not only provides easy access to applications, but allows the user to organize them to their taste within the Dock.

Any file or app can be attached to the Dock. It can hold any number of items and resize them dynamically to fit while using magnification to clarify smaller resized items.

Windows Taskbar is an application desktop bar where users can use the bar to launch and switch between running applications. Microsoft introduced the Windows Taskbar as one of its features from Windows 95, and it has been a prominent feature of all the Windows releases thereafter.

Similar to the dock, any file or app can be attached to the taskbar. The Windows Taskbar position can be changed to either left, right, top or bottom and also the height of the taskbar can be resized. Users can also lock/unlock the position of the taskbar.

Evolution of the Mac Dock and Windows Taskbar

It is always interesting to see how things looked, back in the earlier versions and how things have changed now. So, lets go back in time and see how the dock and taskbar looked in their earlier releases

Evolution of the dock

Cheetah (released on March 24, 2001)

Puma (released on September 25, 2001)

Jaguar (released on August 24th, 2002)

Panther (released on October 24, 2003)

Tiger (released on April 29, 2005)

Evolution of the Windows Taskbar

Windows 95 (released on August 24, 1995)

Windows 98 (released on June 25, 1998)

Windows Me (released on September 14, 2000)

Windows XP (released on October 25, 2001)

Windows Vista (released on January 30, 2007)

And here is how they look today!

In Mac OS X Leopard

In Windows 7

Indeed that's an impressive change!

In the coming weeks, Neowin will be comparing the various features of the Mac OS X Dock and Windows 7 Superbar . However, this series will not conclude on which is better, rather explore and compare the options available with the Dock and Superbar.

*Image Credits: Wikipedia
*Neowin User Christian Szabo also contributed to this article

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47 Comments

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Just like to point out that Windows Vista was out in November , 2006 if I rember right for business customers.

All things I think that Microsoft is try to play catch up to Apple in some ways.

I have use both Macs and Windows of and on and I still find that in the long run windows is a better for easy of use. up to windows 7 beta.

I fell that windows 7 may be going the wrong way.

I'm surprised that you guys left out the dockish thing in OS 9!

In any matter, I'm not sure which I like better, they both work well. I personally don't mind myself, I just like them if they do what they are supposed to... launch programs

personally l like Mac's dock better. Win7 one doesnt look too much different than previous windows, just transparency.

perochan said,
personally l like Mac's dock better. Win7 one doesnt look too much different than previous windows, just transparency.

I equate this to the other comments about how the Mac OS X dock doesn't look too much different than the previous versions. Being a person who has probably tried the Mac OS X dock across the different version, surely you can appreciate the fact that their are functionality changes that may not be reflected in the cosmetics of the Mac OS X dock.

Similarly, the functionality changes for the Windows 7 superbar a quite substantial...even though it may not look that different to you. I recommend you try it out as it is very neat.

The problem I have with small grouped icons is when for example an WLM flashes for a new message its actually hardly noticible.

i love using the new windows 7 taskbar, but what really bothers me is that we cant pin shortcuts to applications on the network whereas with the old quicklaunch we could place shortcuts to network programs..

The one weird difference is that Mac OS X has their Trash icon on the Dock. If Microsoft put the Recycle Bin in the Taskbar it would seem terribly out of place. Somehow it doesn't seem out of place on the Dock.

wow, you're picky aren't you? lol i've had it in the quicklaunch bar before, in fact still do under vista ... windows 7 makes it even better, i hate having the recycle bin icon in view so, i stuck it here under 7. i also have it available under favorites in explorer, easy access either way and hey... not out of place, shocking i know

windows 7


vista

I guess I'm so used to Shift+Delete that really don't use the Recycle Bin anymore. I'm not in the habit of deleting stuff I might need and if I do I always have backups.

i like the superbar, much needed change for Windows and even more productive if you disable all the animations, though some may enjoy that, i don't, i wish you could change the speed of all animations... anyone know if this is possible? i suggested it in feedback :P

Not trying to bash Apple, but it seems to me the dock hasnt changed much. Little difference and the icons are a little different...but not much. No big deal as long as people like it, which they seem to do.

MS didnt change much until XP, then Vista, and now Windows 7. I used to use the Win9x classic look for a looong time.

techbeck said,
Not trying to bash Apple, but it seems to me the dock hasnt changed much. Little difference and the icons are a little different...but not much. No big deal as long as people like it, which they seem to do.

i'm glad i'm not the only one who looked at each one and thought to myself that they all basically look the same, i guess except for the current one that changed the perspective of the background to be more 3d.

This is true, but I guess it can also be argued that OS X was all the time where Windows 7 is only just now getting to. So why change numerous times along the way? If this is a more optimized kind of control than what Windows had previously been working with?

But this is not to say that OS X couldn't use some of the new features in the SuperBar. Maybe Apple will be the next to copy a few features there. Especially the thing about displaying the open windows on merely hovering an icon seems quite Apple-ish and bound to happen there sooner rather than later IMHO.

There have been functionality changes from version to version, but no cosmetic changes. The screen shots don't do justice to the actual changes which have been very progressive IMHO.

Shadrack said,
There have been functionality changes from version to version, but no cosmetic changes. The screen shots don't do justice to the actual changes which have been very progressive IMHO.

Most of the GUI in OSX has been the same since OSX came out. Looks like they are scared of changing.

although both different and hold little really in terms of comparison, ok then :\ ... imo, not really liking these dead space articles...

skynetXrules said,
ooo man

stop comparing Superbar with dock

I don't really see much comparison, in this article, I see the author has just outlined the evolution of the two main user interface elements of each operating system.

skynetXrules doesn't like to compare and contrast things so that he can think critically about the choices available. Good buying decisions just comes naturally to him. His method of deciding involves a more practical dart board approach. At car dealerships he does an ini-mini-mine-mo method which has worked well for him. Please Neowin, stop this relentless spam of useful articles for the sake of skynetXrules.

you can still group them together as in object dock. Just left click and hold an icon and move it the location you want. I have all my office applications not to each other, media applications the same, and etc.. Works good. But at present I still have object dock, hard to break old habits.

The dock looks cool, but I prefer how Windows 7's Superbar doesn't invade the desktop or application space. It looks neat and compact, I also like how it shows there are multiple windows of any single application in the taskbar by using what looks like a stacked version of the icon.

That's what I've always thought of the 'superbar', it is so tidy. It makes me not want to hide the taskbar, which is what I have always done with Windows. I also like bigger icons, so that's always a plus for me.

I really cannot wait 'till I start using Windows 7.

That is true, Rudy, however, I find the window management features in the new taskbar to be an invaluble improvement.

I can't stand the way Mac OS X manages open Windows.

[< snipped > - CalumJR] [We do not tolerate trolling in the news comments, thank you.]

instead of starting your Windows history trace at win95, why don't you go back to win3.1 and see the Superbar's proper predecessor.

Windows 95 is the true predecessor as I used Win 3.11 (good ol Zenith Data System, I miss that beast) and there is in no way, shape or form a taskbar in 3.1x

There was a set of big icons that rested along the bottom of the screen for minimized applications as far back as windows 2.0 I think is what he's referring to.

Sounds like a good comparison to come then. I was actually not aware of the design difference to the OS X dock before I switched, and that it was application-centric rather than windows-centric. That's a pretty radical difference for a Windows XP or Vista user, along with that OS X apps not closing just because the last document open was closed.

i think the superbar would benefit from horizontal scrolling within its borders... so you could add lots of icons to it and scroll them in a small space? unless i'm missing something here.

oh very nice article. I personally prefer the taskbar as opposed the dock...but thats just my preference you dont have to agree or troll it :). I like the superbar too. It's a definite and a much needed addition to the operating system.

@Alkaif -

I couldn't agree more. Without the new taskbar, I certainly wouldn't think Windows 7 is that much of a vast improvement. The new taskbar, alone, though, makes Windows 7 so much tidier and much less cluttered than any previous Windows version.

I'd have to back these assessments as well. Not that there's anything wrong with the dock. I just find the taskbar to be more efficient (and that's simply a matter of personal taste really).

As a user of Mac OS X and Windows, I'd agree that the dock is relatively useless compared to the taskbar. I generally have it auto-hidden, while I never used the auto-hide option on Windows.

However, there are some differences. The taskbar includes the dock's functionality, as well as the file bar (the bar at the top of the screen that contains the clock and can act as a system tray of sorts - I don't know what it's officially called). That bar doesn't disappear on Mac OS X, nor would I want it to. Additionally, I generally don't minimize programs or open documents on Mac OS X thanks to expose, which makes it very quick and easy to switch over to a document. There's also the option to hotcorner or hotkey "show desktop" - a feature that I've found incredibly useful, even though I've known about but never used the "show desktop" shortcut that's been on Windows for years now.

Which is all to say that there's a difference in workflow, the purpose of each, and the way that information is presented by the OS, even though they're often compared directly. I'm guessing that the review will cover some of what I've written.

CalumJR said,
@Alkaif -

I couldn't agree more. Without the new taskbar, I certainly wouldn't think Windows 7 is that much of a vast improvement. The new taskbar, alone, though, makes Windows 7 so much tidier and much less cluttered than any previous Windows version.


It's so good that I have no more desktop icons =P