Sandy Berger: Apple Gives Microsft Run for Money
For years, I have worked on and helped others with Apple's Mac computers as well as Microsoft's Window computers.
I have watched the evolution of these two operating systems as they both "borrowed" ideas from each other to incorporate into their own systems. Over the years, Apple and Microsoft have leap-frogged each other, with each system getting a small jump ahead with every release.
I have always been a Windows person, doing most of my main work on a PC. Although Macs have always been more secure, there were two main reasons that I stayed on PCs. Both had to do with controling the windows. It is extremely easy to make a window fill the screen on a Windows PC and it is also easy to resize a window on a PC by dragging any corner to make it larger or smaller.
In contrast, up until now, a Mac was stuck with windows that didn't fill the screen, and only the lower right corner could be used to resize a window.
Apple's newest version of the Mac operating system, called Lion, removed both of those impediments. With Lion, Apple has added full-screen support as well as the ability to resize a window by dragging any corner. And it has added much, much more - taking a huge leap over Windows 7, Microsoft's latest operating system.
It is obvious that Apple rethought the desktop operating system and took inspiration from the popular iPhone and iPad. Apple has redesigned the operating system software and created hardware to go with it. It has ingeniously added the ability to perform touch-screen functions like those found in the iPhone and iPad without actually adding a touch screen.
You just use your fingers on a touchpad as you would use them on the screen of an iPhone or iPad. For instance, you pinch your fingers together to make things on the screen smaller, and you move your fingers apart to make them larger.
You move between pages by swiping your finger to the left and/or right. You scroll up and down a page by moving your finger up and down on the touchpad. These multi-touch gestures are fast, useful and fun.
All of the Mac laptops have a touch pad that you can use for these gestures. If you are using a desktop Mac or a Mac Mini, you simply add a $69 Magic Trackpad. This is a simple 5-by-5 silver pad that sits next to your keyboard. This pad gives you enough room to move your fingers and pretty much replaces your mouse.
Several Windows computer manufacturers, such as Gateway and HP, have produced computers with touch screens. In fact, I have a touch screen computer, but I seldom use the touch screen because it is uncomfortable to hold your arm out to touch the screen. Apple's Trackpad solution is much more elegant and also much more comfortable. After using it for several weeks I am totally hooked.
Apple has added other innovations with the Lion update. There is a wonderful autosave feature that automatically saves your work as you progress through it so you never have to worry about saving a file. The new Mission Control gives you a bird's-eye view of everything running on your computer and makes switching between programs very easy.
Launch pad lets you rearrange apps and programs just as you do on an iPhone. The email program has also been updated. Apple now has a Mac App store, where you can easily download programs. In fact, you can buy the Lion operating system in the Mac App store. If you have a Mac that you would like to upgrade, you will find the $29.95 price quite appealing.
There are a few caveats for potential Lion users, especially those who want to upgrade. The main one is that Lion will only run on Mac computers with Intel processors. So old PowerPC Macs have been left out of the upgrade.
Apple has also removed support for Rosetta, which was the program that provides software compatibility for the older Macs with PowerPC processors. This means that any older programs that used Rosetta will not run on Lion. This includes older versions of popular programs such as Quicken, and many Adobe programs.
Some hardware vendors have also had problems with Lion compatibility. For instance, Sonos, a whole-house music system, was incompatible when Lion first appeared. Several printers and cameras also had software compatibility problems. Sonos will have the problem fixed shortly, and most printers and cameras are now compatible, but you should check compatibility before you upgrade.
No matter how you look at it, Apple has made a giant move forward with its Lion operating system. I, personally, am using the Mac more than ever before. In the next two weeks, I will be helping two clients who are moving from PC to Mac. It is possible that the new Lion operating system will have a big impact on the computer industry.
Most of us thought that Windows had won the operating system wars, but Apple is now giving Microsoft a run for the money. Microsoft will have to make Windows 8 pretty impressive just to keep in the game.
Contact Sandy Berger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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