MacOS vs Windows, Ease Of Use

I started using computers before the arrival of the desktop computer. I spent many years using Windows, from version 2.0 through to Window 10. Back when I worked for a Microsoft coding shop, we had to wipe our hard drives every six months, because Windows slowly degraded over time, and that was the only solution. As a result of that experience, I have used Linux for over 20 years.

My wife, because of her particular needs, used Windows from about Windows 3.11 onwards. Some years back, Microsoft came up with Windows Vista, a widely acknowledged abortion. When Vista threatened my wife’s workflow, we made the decision to switch to MacOS (for her).

This worked fine for a number of years. There was a period of adjustment, but all seemed to go okay. Until Apple decided that our $5K machine couldn’t be upgraded to the latest version of MacOS. At that point, I decided we would switch back to Windows (Windows 10).

The switch was a painful one. Windows 10 was considerably different from Windows XP, the last version my wife had run. We had to switch the interface to the prior Windows 7 or 8 interface, just to make things bearable.

By this time, Microsoft had converted their OS business to a rental plan. Before, you bought a copy of Windows, installed it, and you were done. Now, you installed Windows, and never physically upgraded it. Microsoft pushed updates periodically, with or without your permission, on their schedule. This has lead to bugs, instabilities, and endless frustration.

It appears that Microsoft’s flagship OS has become a secondary concern for Microsoft. According to them, they plan no further major versions of Windows. Instead, your version of Windows will be upgraded at Microsoft’s leisure indefinitely.

From my observation, they’ve botched this process. Weak, buggy updates are pushed down to users, and they have no option to refuse. Microsoft was never a particularly adept coding shop. Every once in a while, they’d come up with a solid product, like XP. But in general, their code has been mediocre, and since they started renting it, it’s become even worse. They’ve taken their eye off the ball.

As I said, this has caused endless frustration for my wife, who’s quite particular about her computing/work environment. As a result, we’ve decided to again switch back to MacOS.

I object to Mac’s pricing. I object to their endless attempts to lock you into their infrastructure exclusively. According to the Rossmann Group (see their Youtube channel), Apple’s engineering is pretty weak at times, at least on their laptops and phones. And I object to their arbitrary ability to simply brick your expensive hardware by coming out with OS versions you can’t run on your expensive hardware. I also object to Apple’s overuse of system resources in an attempt to make the user interface seem “slick”.

There’s long been this trope, pushed by Apple fanboys, that MacOS is easier to use than Windows. I’ve always objected to this fiction. My observation is that a person adapts to the first OS they encounter, which typically becomes their “favorite”. I don’t believe that a person completely new to computers, would have an easier time of it on Mac or Windows. MacOS and Windows approach things differently, and you get used to the way your particular OS works. One is not inherently easier than the other.

That said- and here’s my real point- I have to acknowledge that Apple has done a better job with their machines and their OS. Windows is a 30 year old platform which started out as a program you ran on top of DOS. From what I understand, there are sections of crufty code in Windows no one wants to touch, because they’re afraid of the damage it might cause. MacOS, on the other hand, is built on a BSD/Unix framework, which is inherently more stable than Windows. Windows started out as a single user, single threaded, single task operating system, and in some ways, it still acts that way. BSD and Unix started out as multi-user, multitasking systems.

Now, I will say that Apple aggravates me in the departures they’ve made to the BSD core. As a Linux power user, BSD isn’t that far off from Linux/Unix. Their’s a certain orthogonality and sanity to the way things are done internally. Apple has deviated from this considerably. It’s still a BSD machine, but it varies from the standard in significant ways, making it harder to support and hack.

Obviously, I’ve had experience with both Windows and MacOS. And regardless of my beefs with Apple, I have to say that they’ve put more thought and care into the design of their operating system. The consistency and polish of MacOS outshines Windows. In some cases, like “cover flow”, the result is very smooth, but thrashes the OS and the hardware more than it should. But it certainly does look nice.

And MacOS, once you get used to the paradigm, is relatively easy and smooth to use. Not in any major way beyond Windows, but in the little touches. And more important, MacOS is generally more stable than Windows, which is a big factor in my book. If Windows was more rational internally and stable, I’d use it. (Well, ignoring the fact that I think Microsoft is an evil corporation. Of course, so is Apple.)

I’m not necessarily looking forward to my wife switching to MacOS from Windows. There will be late nights of pain, moving data and setting up the machine. But in the end, I believe the switch will be beneficial for her. My primary concern is how long Apple will delay before they brick her hardware. (Did I mention I think Apple is an evil corporation?)

Under any other circumstance, and if it were me instead of her, I’d stick with Windows. But Microsoft is in the middle of a huge botch. A programmer or hacker might be able to overcome Windows’ shortcomings. But then again that calibre of user should be on Linux anyway. But since my wife is merely a power user, it’s not reasonable to expect her to have to deal with Microsoft’s BS. It’s probably better that she deal with Appls’s BS. (Smile.)