Comparing Apples to Oranges? (Apple vs. M$)

I used an Apple II/IIe in school briefly before I bought my first PC. Since then, I’ve used almost every generation of Windows (skipped Me & Vista).  I’ve also played with numerous Linux distributions, using both Gnome and KDE. A couple years ago I bought my first Mac so I could learn how to write applications for the growing iPhone and Mac platforms.

My experience to date with OS/X is that it is quite stable. I’ve had as many issues with OS/X through about 4 versions as I’ve had with Windows XP and Windows 7 during that time. That’s not to say I haven’t had any issues though. I had some file corruption that caused instability, lockups, and crashes where the Mac says you need to power off the machine. Even Apple’s own iWork software crashed after updating it. I’ve also had problems upgrading my iOS, to the point where I temporarily bricked my iPhone, and lots of errors trying to Sync the iPhone with iTunes requiring a uninstall/reinstall to rectify.

I don’t understand the appeal of Apple’s software compared to Microsoft’s in terms of ease of use. Novice computer users claim it’s easier to use a Mac, but that hasn’t been my experience. Both have their issues, because software is complex, and issues always crop up when deploying into different environments. Apple should have less problems with deployment, since they control their own hardware, but it doesn’t always appear to be the case. Perhaps it’s because Microsoft has been supporting a myriad of devices for a long time, so they’ve figured out better ways to deal with it.

One of the things I dislike most about Apple software is the hidden functionality. In the M$ world, if you Right Click, or use the local menu keyboard key, you get a menu that shows all allowable options. With Apple, this is not so. Sometimes it’s an option click, and sometimes the local menu just doesn’t show the option at all. For instance, Safari, Apple’s flagship browser does not appear to allow for Bookmark folders within a Bookmark folder, since right clicking on a bookmark folder doesn’t provide the ‘New Folder’ option. In fact, to add a Bookmark folder you have to use the menu, and it always adds the new folder at the root level, regardless of the currently selected folder. It turns out that you can drag a bookmark folder into another bookmark folder afterwards. The help doesn’t mention anything about this, but googling showed other Mac users were baffled by this as well. If Apple was so concerned about the user experience, this kind of thing would be corrected.

Another source of annoyance is that check boxes in Reminders do not respond when you click on the label associated with the checkbox. This is standard behaviour in the Windows world, and even on Linux IIRC. Popup windows also tend to appear and block the underlying window. The window isn’t moveable, so you cannot view the context of the issue if the popup doesn’t display enough information. I constantly have this issue when spell checking in Thunderbird. Often OS/X windows don’t provide a UI hint that the window can be moved. In Windows, the mouse cursor will change or it’s known that a window with a title bar is moveable by dragging the title bar.

I’m sure with some additional time spent learning OS/X specific conventions I will come to appreciate it more, but right now, I’m of the opinion that since Windows 7 shipped that the Apple vs. Microsoft OS wars are pretty much a stalemate, and the applications they run are comparable.

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