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When It Comes To The Desktop, Apple Could Learn From Microsoft And Vice Versa

When It Comes To The Desktop, Apple Could Learn From Microsoft And Vice Versa

June 28, 2013
This fall, Microsoft and Apple will release new versions of Windows and OS X, respectively. How do Windows 8.1 and OS X Mavericks stack up? Each includes at least two features or designs that the other should use too, but doesn't.

Windows 8.1

Microsoft recently announced Windows 8.1, a do-over of sorts for those users that didn’t warm to Windows 8’s Metro design. Much of the attention focused on the return of the Windows Start button in Windows 8.1. However, we won't be discussing that here. Instead, we'll be concentrating on Search and the Windows Store. Search Microsoft’s Bing may never overtake Google as the world’s most popular search engine. Nonetheless, Bing is much better than Apple’s alternative, which is nothing, of course. In Windows 8.1, Bing’s search extends beyond the walls of a user’s PC. A search for Paris, for example, doesn’t just show the photos you took on vacation. It also includes weather outlooks, hotel availability, and more. As Derrick Connel, corporate vice president, Bing notes:
’Paris’ isn’t just a single file or a search query in an app: it is a concept, full of both meaning and context, and we’ll bring its unique meaning to your digital life, all in one place.’
The best Apple can do in this example on a Mac is to define Paris using OS X’s dictionary. Much of what Bing is bringing to Windows 8.1 is also being made available to developers via an API. Do you hear that Apple? Windows App Store The Mac App Store hasn’t a clue what applications reside on a Mac, besides those purchased from within the store. And even with that information, Apple does nothing with it in terms of making recommendations. The Windows 8.1 Store, by contrast, is part of the operating system experience. The store’s front page, for example, includes personalized application suggestions, which extend to actual application pages. I’ve always been bothered by the disconnect between the Mac App Store and iTunes Store. What Apple should do is combine the two, and make it just that – a store. In other words, separate the store from the iTunes media player. OS X Mavericks doesn’t go this far. However, the introduction of a separate iBooks application for Mac does suggest more things for the future.

OS X Mavericks

Don’t worry, readers. Search and App Store improvements alone don’t make Windows better than OS X. In fact, OS X Mavericks includes two new features of its own to guarantee that Apple’s OS X remains better than Windows. iCloud Keychain Chief among these is the new iCloud Keychain feature, which protects passwords and other critical information. The new Password Generator suggests unique, hard-to-guess passwords for your online accounts. Apple's iCloud Keychain also works with credit card information. Windows 8.1 doesn’t offer a similar feature. Tags Additionally, there is Tagging for documents. This allows users to tag a particular document with a certain name and search for it. This search extends beyond the desktop, also including files found on iCloud. Some may argue that Windows 8.1’s Bing is better, and it is in some respects. However, tagging does add an additional layer of search that Microsoft doesn’t let provide. We'll continue to look at Windows 8.1 features versus those for OS X Mavericks in the coming weeks and months ahead. In the meantime, see: OS X Mavericks Expands On Dictation: Goes Offline, Offers Live Feedback, and OS X Mavericks Shares Some Pretty Handy Features With iOS 7.

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