10 reasons why windows 8.1 is better than os x right now

September 13th, 2013 § 3 comments

i’m performing an experiment on myself this summer – i switched completely to the new windows 8.1 when it came out, and have used them exclusively. to be honest, i didn’t think i’d last a day, but then a week passed by, then a month, and i still wasn’t missing the os x.
i have a long history with OS’s. i started with dos and windows 95 of course, then used linux exclusively for 10 years, recently have been using OS X exclusively for 4 years. these switches were usually related to the changes in the work / fun i had with my computer. last few years i’ve turned into an office hog, with occasional perl and django programming. the point is, i know my way around different OS’s as a power user, and it’s been ages since we’ve seen any real innovation in the space.
so i did it. and i was fascinated. here’s why:
  1. great apps designed for touch, means they are clean on desktop. i dont have windows tablet, but i sure appreciate that i can use the same apps, that were designed for fingers, on my computer. the fact that all these great apps were redesigned from scratch for this new experience, gives them amazing usability advantage over the apps that started with ‘windows’ paradigm. evernote touch, trello, maps, and similar, are simply joyful to use. there is nothing but what i need from them on the screen at any point in time. nothing. nada. zilch. no buttons, no menus, no chrome, not even sliders. only me and the content i want to focus on. you can feel that the whole UI is designed for monotasking, and is driving you towards that, no-add usage patterns, that end up in lower blood pressure and better sleep.
  2. gorgeous email and calendar client. built on top of the previously explained monotasking UI paradigm, they finally did a good job with the basic apps. remember the revolution apple mail and calendar did ten years ago? the same leap is happening here.
  3. just enough stacking windows. i understand that back in the eighties, the big war of the OS’s was exactly about the ability to show windows that overlapped. but i feel so much better in the new metro UI with windows that can only stack next to each other, and can only do so on three places on the screen. smart and efficient default, that makes the user feel safe and in control. want to take notes while doing a skype call? no problem, just stack ‘one quarter’ of the evernote touch next to skype, and you can do that without being left with horribly looking set of overlapping windows, taskbar and desktop peeking trough holes.
  4. live tiles and start area. i was impressed when apple introduced launchpad into os X- the concept they learned worked on tablets worked just as well on desktop. but they stopped there, and microsoft didnt. it makes so much more sense to go all in, and make it the default screen, that is designed to give control to you fingertips. this time for real. and guess what – squares with sharp corners and text are just fine, i dont need stupid circular icons that don’t mean anything. building ‘dashboard widgets’ straight into the tiles themselves, is the ultimate simplification that basically merges four OS X features: launchpad, the dock, dashboard, task bar. beat this apple!
  5. works out of the box. it only rebooted twice and it just worked. i could start clicking around, setting it up in many useless but joyful ways. also, the new booting fish progress bar is cute.
  6. burns less battery. really, this is a big one. in today’s world of bloated software i really really appreciate OS that is economical.
  7. charms are small featurettes available trough a right pane that shows when you move the mouse to that edge. they are actually pretty useful – as opposed to os x’s random social media and notifications bar, charms are tools – print, scan, share, setup, search. it’s the same genius that was behind the apple icon in the fixed menu bar ten years ago, just better.
  8. new metro control panel – apple’s control panel with great search highlighter was brilliant. new metro control panel is better, because you dont really have to search it to find stuff – it’s so much simpler, and so much cleaner, that it takes you no time to find and change a setting. and there are no settings available, that wouldnt be obviously necessary, while everything else apparently just works so i dont have to think about it.
  9. external screen behaves by default either as a continuous desktop or two separate metro areas, giving you great flexibility to arrange a work environment, without loosing the benefits of cleanliness and monotasking focus.
  10. social response. it’s really fun to observe how my colleagues one by one noticed the hated OS on my machine, had a cynical or puzzled or worried comment, listened to my explanation and demo of these features with tilted head, and left with some respect in their eyes and a glimpse of excitement and hope. when you see these feature work properly, they are impressive.

as a bonus let me just add that everything else that used to be good at windows is still good, and more stable. my next step is to get a windows phone and see how they work together.

keep in mind, that i’m trying to behave as a somewhat normal user – i need my computer to give me a reliable and predictable access to web, mail, spreadsheets, notes, music, cloud, pictures, news and some other things. no power user crap this time.

§ 3 Responses to 10 reasons why windows 8.1 is better than os x right now"

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  • Peter Hanneman says:

    I’ve been using Microsoft products since Windows 95. I’m a computer science engineer and would definitely consider myself to be a power user. After the release of Mavericks and the late 2013 Macbook Pro refresh I decided to switch having next to zero OSX experience. For Over the last 10 years I’ve only had negative things to say about all things Apple and now that I’ve owned one for a month I can safely say I’ll never ever go back if I have a choice. I still use Windows 8.1 on my Desktop and inside of Parallels and every time I switch back it feels like an unpolished beta product. Every task requires more clicks in Windows. The inherent security has been very welcome after dealing with scores of virus infections over the years. The graphics are more visually appealing. The multitouch functionality arguably doubles my multitasking efficiency. Your statement about Windows being more power efficient is downright wrong, so is your comment about multi monitor not working out of the box. Do you really think you can do more in the Windows calendar application, because I certainly don’t. The built in monitoring utilities blow the Windows equivalents out of the water. The software quality standard is many times higher on OSX. Trying to use an OS built for a touch interface on a non-touch device is infuriating and using a Wacom tablet still misses the mark. There simply aren’t any apps build for the new Metro interface that I’ve found to be of any use. They usually have reduced functionality compared to the native app and the built in apps like Bing Weather doesn’t even work in other countries! I could list 10 features for which no Windows equivalent exists that I use on a daily basis on OSX but I digress. I’ve been a Windows drone for far too long and apparently for no reason other than stubbornness. The fact that the Windows XP growth rate is still larger than Windows 8/8.1 should be a good indicator of how terribly they did with the release. When I find a single Metro app that I enjoy using more than it’s desktop or web counterpart will be the day hell freezes over. Microsoft lost one of their most blindly devoted followers with the 8.1 release, and I get the feeling I’m far from the last, especially judging the enterprise response. Every new startup I find is using OSX for it’s simplicity and vastly improved workflow efficiency, the large companies won’t be far behind. The death bells are ringing for Windows unless they seriously step their game up on the next release.

  • Wera says:

    Is it a joke? Windows 8 is a copy of OSX. I have both systems and I can’t say anything good about Windows.

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