Mac OS X Lion
The refinements made in Snow Leopard are further polished in Lion with the introduction of Mission Control, which combines the Exposé and Spaces features. Exposé displays thumbnails of all windows, making it easy to navigate to them. The Spaces feature sets up multiple desktops (“spaces”), letting you assign specific applications to each one to avoid a cluttered desktop. Now it’s all accessible on one screen.
Mission Control, activated by a trackpad gesture or keyboard shortcut, lets you view all desktops in mini windows on top of the currently active desktop. Mission Control also reveals open applications, making it easy to toggle from one window or application to another. The existing keyboard shortcut of Alt+Tab will toggle between apps too.
Unfortunately, Mission Control can be confusing. While Lion will automatically organize and stack windows related to a given app in the center of the screen, full-screen windows get segregated and line the top of the display along with Spaces. You also can’t close applications from Mission Control.
Windows 7’s multitasking solution is not as slick as Lion’s, but it is effective. In addition to pressing Alt-Tab to flip from one open app to another, pressing the Win key and Tab when you have Aero Glass activated shows active apps in a 3D carousel of revolving windows.
Most of Windows 7’s multitasking is achieved via the taskbar. Aero Peek, for one, shows a thumbnail of open files in an app by hovering over apps in the taskbar. Add frequently used apps or files to the Taskbar by right-clicking on them and selecting the drop-down menu choice. The taskbar’s limited real estate can get cramped easily, however.
Another quick way to bounce from one app or doc to another is Snap. Grab the top of a window and push it to either side. The window locks to the side and resizes to half the screen. Repeat on the other side. Double-click the top of either window to return it to full size.
While Mission Control is more ambitious, multitasking is easier to manage in Microsoft’s OS. And only Windows 7 lets you compare windows side by side.