Mac OS X Lion
One of Apple’s slickest moves was to integrate the Mac App Store into Lion. Based on the overwhelming success of the iPhone app store, the Mac App Store is built into the Dock for one-click access. Once an app is purchased (you need an Apple ID to get started), it instantly downloads and installs on the Launchpad for immediate use.
Lion’s resourceful Resume feature remembers all the open apps, docs, and web pages when the Mac is powered off and restarts them on reboot for users to continue where they left off. A related feature is AutoSave, which, like its name, automatically saves changes to a doc or any app developed with AutoSave even if you close the app without manually saving it. Return to your document, and those changes are there. And if you need to go back to a version before changes were made, the Revert command takes you there. The downside is that AutoSave deactivates the Save As function.
FaceTime handles video calls to other Macs, the iPhone 4, and the iPad 2, automatically adjusting from landscape to portrait formats depending on the mobile device you are using. Working in tandem with Lion’s full-screen viewing, FaceTime not only maximizes the image but lets you switch between a call and other full-screen apps.
Lion’s improved Mail app is also better than what you’ll find in Windows Live, thanks to a cleaner conversation view and super-charged search functionality. Last but not least is AirDrop, which makes it dead simple to share files between Macs over a peer-to-peer network.
It’s no secret that Microsoft has a huge lead in the number of programs that support Windows 7. Because of Windows’ larger install base, there are thousands of apps you either won’t find on Macs (beyond games) or that will come to the platform later. But that’s not all that makes Windows 7 uniquely compelling.
Shake, part of Windows 7’s Aero interface, is an instant de-clutterer. If you have a legion of windows open and want to concentrate on one, clicking the top of the pane you want to keep and shaking the mouse will make the other windows instantly disappear from the screen. However, the tabs will still be available from the taskbar.
Windows 7’s Jump Lists is a welcome feature to gain quick access to favorite sites, music, docs, and photos by merely right-clicking a taskbar tab. A menu of recently opened windows in the particular app takes you immediately back to the one you choose.
Device Stage is sort of a switchboard for controlling external devices plugged into the PC. Be it a multifunction printer, camera, or phone, Device Stage automatically loads and lets you handle tasks applicable to that device. Only those products with Device Stage firmware currently work with this feature, which will open automatically when compatible products are connected to your laptop.
It’s hard to beat not having to remember to save your documents in Lion. The Mac App Store/Launchpad combo is another big plus. On the other hand, Windows 7 still has a huge lead in the number of available apps.