Mortal frenemies Apple and Microsoft have been locked in battle since 1984, when the first Macintosh shipped. Apple has always been the innovator; the prestige developer with big ideas. Microsoft took care of the mundane side of the market, catering for enterprise and home, developing solid products that ran on a range of hardware.
Then something changed. First the iPod, then the iPhone and iPad carved out a new, portable niche for computing, eventually threatening to replace desktop machines altogether.
Now, Microsoft is fighting back. Windows 8 is an operating system that ties together their desktop and mobile offerings. Released in the same month and on the same day as Microsoft Surface, the company's tablet computer.
Is it too little too late? We put the two latest versions of OS X and Windows head to head. This was the outcome.
1) Windows 8 verses OS X - Installation
The shipping version of Windows 8 is available as a DVD upgrade or as a download. The online version comes with Upgrade Assistant, a tool that enables users to test their systems for compatibility before downloading and creating bootable DVD or USB media to install the OS.
On a Mac you currently upgrade by downloading Mountain Lion from the App Store.
The Windows 8 tools for repartitioning and formatting our drive were easy to use and intuitive - but limited. When installing Mac OS, Disk Utility, Terminal and Time Machine are all available to perform more complex tasks.
Like OS X you now need to set-up an online account to configure your machine at start-up. That's a Windows Live or Hotmail account. If you don't have one, the installation forwards you to a browser window to make an account.
New users have to use or create an online account to install OS X too, but sign up is more effectively integrated within the installer.
Windows 8 only restarted once during the install. That's a key improvement over previous versions.
Mac : 7
Windows : 7
2) Windows 8 verses OS X - Interface Design
Both OS X Lion and Mountain Lion have features that make it clear Apple is edging towards a unified operating system across devices. Tools like Mission Control and Launchpad augment the traditional Finder and Desktop interface that we're all used to with metaphors familiar to iPhone and iPad users.
With Windows 8 Microsoft has gone a radical step further, by bolting an entirely new interface over the Desktop.
The Windows Desktop and File Explorer (formerly Windows Explorer) are still there, but they're now hidden beneath a full-screen overlay that replaces the old Start menu . Formerly known as Metro, the new "Microsoft design style" Start screen is a chunky and garish affair, with simple primary coloured tiles for accessing installed programs. If you've ever tried a Windows phone, you'll have seen it all before.
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