Look Up Another Term

Definition: Windows vs. Mac


The debate never ends as to which major desktop platform is the easiest and best. Both have pluses and minuses.

Windows uses colors to make windows and dialogs stand out, whereas everything is shades of gray on the Mac. As a result, it takes longer to instantly recognize which window or tab is active on a Mac screen. To the Windows user, the Mac looks dull.

To Mac users, the Windows file hierarchy appears downright obtuse (C: drive, This PC, Libraries, Favorites, etc.). Worse yet, it may change with the next Windows version. The Mac file manager is much more straightforward.

In Windows, there are times when the only way to change a setting is to manually edit the Registry, which can be downright frightening for the average user. See Registry.

Windows = Inconsistent But Flexible
When the Windows interface and file hierarchy change in a new version, the differences have to be relearned each time. On the other hand, interface features are more customizable for the user, especially for seniors, who favor larger buttons and menu text.

Windows = Touchscreens
Starting with Windows 8, Microsoft has featured touchscreens, which support on-screen drawing and more usability options. There are no Mac touchscreens, although the 2016 Mac laptops introduced a novel touch toolbar (see MacBook).

Mac's Best Feature = Consistency
Although there are changes from time to time, the Mac OS is rather consistent from version to version. Over the years, installations, operation and troubleshooting have been easier than Windows primarily because Apple controls both the hardware and operating system.

Mac's Worst Feature = Consistency
It took Apple 20 years to add a second mouse button, and it has been more than 30 that every application menu remains stuck in the upper left corner of the screen. In 1984, the Macintosh displayed one application at a time on a 7" screen. Today, multiple apps are open on monitors 24 to 43 inches wide, yet the menu is upper left no matter where the active app is on screen. Unless savvy users remember keyboard shortcuts, this menu structure results in very excessive mouse movement.

The Best Interface - WinMac
If the best features of Windows and Mac could be merged into one, we would have a much better computer experience. Each platform has worthwhile design elements that the other does not. See user interface, Macintosh, Windows and how to select a computer.