Head to head: Windows 7 vs Snow Leopard

In the second of our series of head to head reviews, we pit Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system against Apple’s Mac OS X update Snow Leopard.

Interface

For most people this is really going to be killer, as it's the look and feel that differentiates the two operating systems in most people's minds. Apple has clearly been the design and interface leader for a long time, and old-time users will happily argue to the cows come home about how Microsoft allegedly stole the concept of the GUI from Apple in the first place. There's no doubt that Microsoft has made great strides with Windows 7 with a number of small, but when totalled up, significant additions.

Mac OS' Expose has been a tour-de-force of how to get a quick overview access of your system. Just hit a key, and all the open windows on the desktop appear in tile form a feature that has been refined in Snow Leopard. Windows now appear on a grid and if you hover over the app icon in the dock just the open Windows for that app appear.

Windows 7 expands on Vista Aero Glass with Aero Peek, which pops up a thumbnail of each open Window when you roll over it in the taskbar. While the thumbnails are great, there's no equivalent to Expose's All Windows view. You can still Windows-tab for a scrolling 3D view of each Window and Alt-tab has been improved to just show the Windows of the app that you're tabbing through.

Windows does make it easier to arrange apps though and the new Windows Snap shortcut lets you easily snap Windows to the sides of your monitor, which is very useful. Windows Shake, where you can remove all Windows by grabbing the title bar of the one you want is neat too, though we're not sure of the need for it.

Mac OS X also has Spaces, which are simple virtual desktops on which you can place applications.

Apple has tidied up the fonts on the dock, and improved the Stacks feature so you can use it instead of the Finder, but Windows 7 has jump lists, and a much improved taskbar, where you can dock your favourite apps. We like both, but overall, we'd rate Mac OS X as better looking and arguably easier to navigate.

However, as we're comparing specifically to Snow Leopard, the enhancements that have made to it over Leopard are minor, while Windows 7 is a great leap forward from Windows Vista. As such, we're actually giving this round to Microsoft.

Winner: Windows 7

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