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Deathmatch review: Windows 8.1 vs. OS X Mavericks

Galen Gruman | Oct. 24, 2013
Although you can now hide some of the Windows 8 dissonance, Windows 8.1 doesn't leap forward enough

Manageability: Windows 8.1 vs. OS X Mavericks
Windows 8.1: 9
OS X Mavericks: 7

If you're willing to spend the money, you can manage Windows 8 PCs every which way from Sunday using tools such as Microsoft's System Center. Remote installation, policy enforcement, application monitoring, software updating, and so forth are all available.

OS X Mavericks provides similar capabilities through its use of managed client profiles — enforcing use of disk encryption is a new capability in this version — through OS X Server. Alternatively, OS X management capabilities are available through third-party tools such as those from Quest Software that plug into System Center or via MDM tools, including from the likes of AirWatch and MobileIron. OS X Mavericks rationalizes its policy set with iOS, so it's easier to manage Macs using the tools you likely have in place for mobile devices. Mavericks also now supports enterprise-style app licensing for Mac App Store apps, a big shift IT will welcome.

But the degree of control available to Windows admins — as well as the number of tools to exert that control — is still far greater than is available for OS X admins.

Security: Windows 8.1 vs. OS X Mavericks
Windows 8.1: 8
OS X Mavericks: 9

With nearly every computer these days connected to the Internet, security is a big focus, including both application security and data security. Windows has been a malware magnet for years, and antivirus software has been only partially effective in protecting PCs. Macs have been immune from most attacks, but in the last two years, the Mac has seen a handful of high-profile Trojan attacks through plug-in technologies such as Oracle Java and Adobe Flash. Windows, of course, suffers hundreds of such attacks each year.

So it's no surprise that Microsoft has included its (unfortunately anemic) Security Essentials antimalware app since Windows 8. For its part, Apple has included antimalware detection since OS X Mountain Lion, with daily checks to update signatures and remove known malware. Windows' registry does make it harder to truly eliminate malware than Apple's approach of relying on discrete files and folders that can simply be deleted if found to be harmful. Security researchers such as Trail of Bits say that OS X is much harder for hackers to successfully attack, though Microsoft's Vista and later have done a good job of closing up the many holes in Windows XP. Also, there are more tools available to monitor and protect Windows, commensurate to its greater risk, than for OS X.


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