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Questioning “Windows 8 or Mountain Lion” may seem nonsensical since these operating systems are designed for two entirely different machines. However, Windows users and Mac users are already vying for the top spot when it comes to determining which operating system is “the best.” We will take a look at the features of both Windows 8 and Mountain Lion as we endeavor to help you decide which operating system best suits your needs.
First Thing’s First – Letting Go of OS Loyalties
Before beginning to determine whether Windows 8 or Mountain Lion is the best operating system for your needs, it is important to let go of any loyalties. Certainly, there are those who have always been “Mac people” and those who have always been “PC people” but if you are dedicated to finding an OS that best suits your needs it is important to let go of those affiliations. This is not to say that you should overlook basic requirements for a job. Personal affiliations and occupational necessity are two different factors all together. For example if you work in a position where intense video editing programs are required, you will likely find that a Mac is a must – this has nothing to do with a personal desire to be a Mac owner and more to do with which machine is best suited to the job.
What is an OS?
Let us begin by defining the term “OS” for those who are less technically savvy. The term “OS” stands for “Operating System.” If you think of a computer as a human body, the OS is the brain without which the computer would be unable to function. The operating system is responsible for managing software and hardware resources of the computer, including, but not limited to:
- memory is allocated where it needs to be
- external devices are recognized
- files are managed correctly
- controlling access to the computer system
- ensuring smooth overall function despite the fact that multiple processes are running simultaneously.
Operating systems utilize GUIs or Graphical User Interfaces that rely upon “pointing devices” (think of your computer mouse) to receive input from the user. There are a number of components to an operating system only one of which is the graphical user interface. Other components of various levels of the OS include the user interface, the device drivers, virtual memory and the kernel.
Windows 8 Features
Windows 8 is the latest operating system developed by Microsoft with a release date of October 26, 2012. The new Windows release highlights a direction towards touch screen computing and fluid transitions to speed up the computing experience. Windows 8 has a hybrid kernel type and is expected to have a number of features from Windows 7 removed as well as a number of new features added. Highlights of these new changes in Windows 8 include:
- The removal of the start button.
- The start menu has been replaced with a start screen.
- Microsoft Gadgets has been removed from Windows 8 completely
- Windows Media Center is no longer included by default but is available as an add on.
- Windows Media Player will not allow for DVD playback unless purchased separately.
- The information displayed on the “Blue Screen of Death” has been shortened.
- The “Previous Versions” feature has been replaced with a “File History” feature.
- A new virtual hard disk format.
- Windows 8 has shorter boot time.
- Built in support of USB 3.0.
- The “Parental Controls” feature has been replaced with a “Family Safety” feature.
- Windows CardSpace has been replaced by U-Prove.
- The POSIX subsystem has been dropped completely.
- The file explorer command bar has been replaced by a Ribbon UI.
- The Aero Glass theme has been replaced by a Metro style theme.
Mountain Lion Features
Mountain Lion or OS X Mountain Lion is the latest operating system developed by Apple Inc. with a release date of July 25, 2012. Mountain Lion has a hybrid kernel type. This newest operating system in the Mac family has been the most successful OS release for the company to date and within the first four days of its release it sold over 3 million copies. Mountain Lion showed a number of changes in the new OS X that included removal of older features and the addition of newer ones. Highlights of these new changes in Mountain Lion include:
- The addition of a notification center.
- The inclusion of a new “Notes” feature.
- The addition of Messages, an instant messaging software that has replaced iChat.
- A social gaming network “Game Center” has been added in Mountain Lion.
- AirPlay Mirroring has been added for Apple TV users.
- iCloud synchronization while the system is sleeping has been enabled for MacBook Air and Macbook Pro units.
- iCloud has completely replaced MobileMe.
- Battery life can now only be displayed as a percentage rather than time left.
Ease of Use with Windows 8 and Mountain Lion
The ease of use of an operating system is a major concern for many computer users, particularly those who are not as familiar with technology. When it comes to ease of use, Apple tends to always come out on top. The reason for this fairly consistent factor is that despite the release of new OS versions, Apple rarely makes considerable changes to the core elements of their operating system. As new elements are added in to the Apple operating system they are done so in such a way that they are integrated in to what Apple users already understand.
Windows unfortunately is not as concerned with being user friendly when it comes to consistency. This means that for Windows users, the release of a new operating system means that users are forced to learn new interfaces and new file structures. Is this a make it or break it factor for Windows users? It depends. For some users the consistency of Apple is an ever-strengthening factor in making “the switch” but for others newer changes seen in Windows 8 indicate a more streamlined approach to upgrading in the future.
When it comes to each of use, most users will agree that Apple OS Mountain Lion is going to come out on top.
How Manageable Are Windows 8 and Mountain Lion
Ease of use is important for newer users of operating systems, but how manageable an operating system is also a significant concern. Windows 8 offers users the ability to completely control and manage their system by using various features such as the Microsoft’s System Center, application monitoring and other services. These make management and customization of the operating system much easier than they are through Mountain Lion.
Mountain Lion offers users the option to manage their system through client profiles by accessing the OS X server. Third party management software options can also be downloaded and implemented to manage the various aspects of Mountain Lion. While there is a significant degree of manageability through these third party applications, the truth is that Windows 8 simply does a better job at giving a greater degree of system control over to admins of the system.
When it comes to manageability, Windows 8 appears to offer the most manageable system.
Spotlight on the Features of Windows 8 and Mountain Lion
Another important consideration – perhaps more important for veteran technology users – is the variety of features being offered by each operating system. While most OS users try to focus on the features they will use most, it is hard not to also take note of those additional “perks.” Overall Apple Mountain Lion offers users much more bang for their buck as far as the features they receive when purchasing their OS. Apple users are not requested to purchase additional (and quite expensive) software suites to unlock various functions of their system where Windows clients are. Mac not only offers better services in terms of programs that do not come at a premium, but the services they do offer are decidedly of better quality than those of Window.
Unfortunately for Windows users, a good portion of the “features” on the Windows 8 system relies upon purchasing a very expensive software suite such as Microsoft Word. In short Microsoft is asking you to pay for their operating system and then pay for the software needed to utilize what many consider to be necessary functions.
When it comes to the number and caliber of features offered by each operating system, Apple OS X Mountain Lion comes out ahead.
Sharing With Windows 8 and Mountain Lion
As technology has become more socially centered with the introduction of numerous social networks, the desire to share has become increasingly important. Mountain Lion makes sharing easier through its various applications by providing features such as a drop down menu that allows for sharing directly on Twitter or other social networks. Mountain Lion also features better sharing options through Apple Mail which allows users to select from various versions of their shared content to best suit their recipient.
While sharing through Mountain Lion has become particularly easy, sharing through Windows 8 is set to be even easier. The main menu offering within the Windows 8 system features a “share” option that can be used at any point. There is one slight drawback to this permanent sharing feature however, in that it does not offer an extensive list of sharing options at this time (it is expected that this list will expand in the near future). Additionally, unlike the Mountain Lion system, Windows 8 uses smart computing to ensure that when you click their “share” button on the main menu, that the applications you share from most commonly are listed at the top.
When it comes to sharing, researchers believe that Windows 8 is going to come out on top.
Windows 8 and Mountain Lion Compatibility
For those who experienced the Windows Vista fiasco, the concept of compatibility is one that will be at the forefront for a long while to come. Compatibility is an important consideration when purchasing any operating system since it determines how easy your system will be to operate based upon your specific needs. While of these two operating systems Windows 8 is obviously going to have fewer problems with compatibility based simply on the fact that it is a Windows system, OS X is also ranking quite high on the compatibility scale for many users. Windows has much more in the way of compatibility but Mountain Lion also has compatibility where it counts for most users in terms of corporate resources such as Open Directory and Microsoft’s SMB networking.
When it comes to compatibility Windows 8 leads the pack simply because there is a greater array of programs and services available to Windows users than there are for Mac users.
Windows 8 and Mountain Lion Security
As two of the biggest players in the operating system field, it should come as no surprise that both Windows 8 and OS X Mountain Lion are towards the top of the scale when it comes to security. Both Apple and Windows ensured that significant security methods were focused on in the production of these systems simply because of the amount of time users spend connected to the internet these days. It is worth noting however, that overall Windows operating systems are much more of a target for malware and viruses. With that said, there are plenty of security features in place for both Windows 8 and Mountain Lion to please users. Windows has a number of safeguards in play to protect against the obvious threat of viruses and Malware, in fact many more safeguards than a Mac system requires, but this simply comes with the territory for Windows users.
There really is no clear “winner” when it comes to security safeguards in place for Windows 7 and OS X Mountain Lion. Just keep in mind that Windows systems are more vulnerable to attack.
Windows 8 and Mountain Lion Price
A consideration that seems to come secondary for many users these days is price or value for money. The major considerations tend to be compatibility, security, manageability and ease of use but it is also worth taking a look at just how much value users are getting for their money with Windows 8 and Mountain Lion. For current users of Mac’s software a $20 upgrade fee will get them a copy of Mountain Lion on their system. While Windows has not yet released Windows 8 and it is difficult to approximate the cost of their new system, it is estimated that upgrades to the new system will cost $100 or more. So is what you get worth that additional cost? For $20 it is difficult to say that the Mountain Lion upgrade isn’t worth it. The new additions and tweaks that Mac has included in the OS X provide a significant degree of functionality for the cost of less than a nice meal out for two. But what about the potential $100 plus cost of upgrading to Windows 8? Is that cost worth it? Some say yes simply because of the other benefits one receives from using a Windows-based system, but some say that it’s time that Windows got competitive and started offering their upgraded OS for a discounted fee like Apple has done with Mountain Lion.
Whichever way you slice it, $20 for an operating system upgrade is simply too difficult to overlook and for that reason, Mountain Lion comes out on top in terms of what you get for your money.
Why Compare Two Totally Different Operating Systems?
So why is it important to compare the functions and features of two completely different operating systems? If you let go of your loyalties and affiliations as mentioned previously then by now you should understand that Windows 8 and Mountain Lion are two completely different animals. Comparing these two operating systems allows computer users to determine which of these systems is best suited to their personal computing needs. For example, if you are looking for a OS that is easy to use for newcomers to technology, then Mountain Lion is a better option but if you are looking for a system that has better compatibility ratings then Windows 8 is going to be your best bet. Deciding which of these two operating systems best suits your needs is a matter of balancing out your personal needs in computer functionality.