Mac OS X Lion
The look and feel of an OS usually determines how intuitive it is for users to find and interact with apps. Lion makes that easier than ever with the addition of Launchpad, which displays your system’s app icons. To access Launchpad, perform a three-finger pinch with your thumb on the trackpad or press the dedicated Launchpad button on the latest MacBook Air.
Launchpad basically duplicates the iOS interface on iPhones and iPads. You can easily swipe from one screen to the next, and you can drag app icons onto each other to create folders of similarly themed programs. Apple has seamlessly integrated the Mac App Store with Launchpad; when you make a purchase in the App Store, it automatically installs and appears on the Launchpad.
Lion also preserves the Dock (known as the taskbar in Windows) from previous OS versions. You can drag an icon from the Launchpad into the Dock to make an app more accessible.
Lion makes full-screen application viewing possible for its native programs and select third-party software. Switching between full-screen apps is achieved instantly with a two-finger swipe to the left or right on the touchpad. However, full-screen apps obscure the menu bar until you hover over it.
The interface for Windows 7 isn’t dramatically different from previous Windows versions, but there are welcome tweaks. While the familiar Start button remains, Microsoft gave the taskbar a cosmetic and operational facelift.
The buttons are sharper looking and can be reordered with a simple mouse drag. With Aero Glass functions activated, Aero Peek lets you see thumbnails of the windows open in each app by hovering over a taskbar button. Similarly, with Jump Lists, right-clicking a taskbar button shows that app’s previously opened or currently active windows—documents or web pages—for quick access.
Another clever interface element is the Show Desktop icon on the right end of the taskbar. Hovering over this rectangle presents your desktop at any time.
Between the iOS-like Launchpad, user-friendly Dock, and full-screen apps, Lion has a more modern and approachable look and feel.