Mac OS X Lion
The older, excellently equipped versions of iLife ’09—which include iDVD, iMovie, iPhoto, iWeb, and the music track creator GarageBand—remain untouched in Lion. But to upgrade to iLife ’11, you must either purchase the $49 suite at the Apple Store or download each app in the suite individually in the Mac App Store at $14.99 a piece.
The upgraded version adds some new features, including full-screen views and instant Facebook links plus some improved performance tweaks. But only frequent users of the older version will notice the differences.
Apple’s QuickTime Player has been pumped up with interactive capabilities. Users can merge multiple clips into a single movie, export just the audio of a video to listen in iTunes or another player, and capture a still image of a region of the screen. Want to share a video? That’s handled in QuickTime via a one-button link to e-mail, Facebook, Flickr, iMovie, and Vimeo. And watching a movie in full-screen mode is splendid.
Unfortunately, Mac still does not support Blu-ray.
Microsoft loads Windows 7 with a cornucopia of seemingly feature-rich multimedia creation and playback tools. Included on many laptops and available as a free download, the Windows Live Essentials suite includes Messenger, Movie Maker, Photo Gallery, Windows Mail, and Writer (for blogging), all enabled for Microsoft’s cloud push. Add to these options Windows Media Player 12 for CD/DVD burning, music, photo playback, video.
To maintain consistency, these applications rely on the ribbon-style toolbar that first appeared in Microsoft Office 2007—and therein lies our major complaint. The powerhouse block of features appears as a labyrinth across the top of each screen. It makes users wish for a map to find specific functions.
Even in Windows Media Player, which does not use the ribbon interface, the user is met with a hodgepodge of columns and tabs for music, photos, video, and other media, which leaves a new user moaning in confusion. At least in Movie Maker, a step-by-step link can help you create and edit videos.
iLife for Apple’s OS is simply more polished, robust, and easier to use than Microsoft’s Windows Live.