Truth to be said I am both a macOS and Windows user. I have one system for each operating system. And I have an Android phone… after owning an iPhone.
I do not think that one operating system is better than the other one. It may depend on the use. This article wants to help choose if that is the case and learn what each side has to offer.
In most cases, your choice may be guided by your personality, other devices you are using (your phone or your tablet), your business needs…
This is one of the main differences between Apple and Microsoft.
The first one offers a wide choice of possible hardware, but all the choices are driven by Apple. You may still be able to use the macOS on some hardware, but the compatibility may not be supported.
Microsoft, on the other hand, can be installed on different hardware and the choices are wide open.
For sure Apple has made the statement to drive the type and quality of the hardware to build up the brand through also the devices, not only laptops and computers, but also phones and tablets.
Concentrating on the computer component…
Where to start?
Both operating systems are easy to install and setup, and offer a better experience if you access the Microsoft Account or Apple ID.
Many functions on both platforms are connected to the use of these accounts, but you can still install the operating system with a local account and decide later what to do.
With a connection to Apple and Microsoft, you get access to the full functionality of the operating system and interoperability between devices with the same system.
The platforms offer more than the usual login with username and password.
Apple’s touch bar, not available on all the devices, offers to login using your finger.
Your Apple Watch or Phone can be both used to complete the login.
Microsoft introducing Hello has gone above and beyond to make it easy to log in. It has many biometric options, but the most advanced one is face recognition. Not available on all devices.
Also, fingerprint reading requires the hardware to be up to speed.
If you do not have advanced hardware, Windows will accept a PIN.
Start Menu vs. Dock
Once you’ve booted to the operating system, Windows has the Start button and menu to access apps, settings, and documents.
The menu bar can also be used to pin the most used apps and it is easy to navigate the windows that are open for that app.
In macOS, you have your Dock where you can pin your frequently used apps.
All of your Apps can be found in the Lauchpad. This is an easy way to find and open apps on your Mac. You can even arrange and organize your apps into folders.
Taskbar vs. Dock
Windows is a program based operating system. macOS can be considered more document-based.
This creates a huge difference in how the Windows Taskbar and the macOS Dock operate.
Both can pin your favorite programs but have different behaviors.
The first one always has a list of the active programs available and if you click on each one, it will bring the program upfront. A miniature of the windows is available to click on.
Sometimes in the Dock, you click on the icon and nothing comes up. You may see the program bar on top but cannot figure out what windows are open.
Desktop and Windows
Some differences with the Taskbar and Dock come up also in Desktop and Window management.
The organization of Windows and how it is easy to arrange those in Windows can make it easier to use.
Microsoft’s OS makes it easier to arrange windows on the screen. Want an app to take up exactly half the screen? Snap it to the left or right edge. How about having it displayed on a quarter of the screen? Snap it to any of the screen corners.
If you run apps side-by-side, the border between them can be resized. If you want to show or switch to the desktop behind any running apps, click to the very far right of the taskbar.
A Microsoft window management trick, just Hold and Shake the mouse key on the title bar, this will minimize everything else.
These functions are available also in macOS but need a little more work. You can check in our article about Awesome Things Your Mac Can Do.
Virtual desktops are available on both operating systems.
Windows combines the desktop switcher with a Timeline viewer. This can be a little confusing but also very helpful if you are looking for a specific window.
File Explorer vs. Finder
Are you looking for a file on your device? This is where you would go…
File Explorer has been recently been improved to incorporate a Quick Access view that emulates what the Finder Recents Folder does.
It also contains some virtual folders, documents, pictures, and music that help you organize your content. This function is not available in Finder.
One macOS feature that Windows lacks is the ability to have multiple tabs in a Finder window.
Finder also lets you quickly preview files in the Preview utility. Both display previews of documents on the right side of the Explorer/Finder windows, let you choose which app to open a file with and let you easily share files with a right-click.
Both platforms offer a variety of included apps like mail clients, calendars, calculators, photo and video viewers and editors, screenshot tools, voice recorders, and web browsers, and apps for maps, cameras, news, weather, and contacts.
Where macOS may be stronger is that includes a superior video editor, a preview utility, and a streaming music service.
In Microsoft, the power may be in the easiest way to install third-party applications.
The two platforms, compared to the past, have converged from being more suitable for both business and creative activities.
Cortana vs Siri
Cortana arrived on Windows 10 a good year before Siri made it to the Mac, and is still more capable in a few important ways.
Both can open apps and web pages, tell you the weather, change system settings, do math, control smart home devices, set reminders, send emails, and search the web.
Both can be invoked by voice.
Siri can’t log out of or shut down the computer. Cortana can now even send requests to Amazon’s Alexa.
I would say that both platforms offer a wide range of customization options at the user level.
Both include a dark mode option, that is the new trend.
The search bar in Windows is always available, instead, in macOS, you can pop-up the Spotlight search bar.
Both bars will do math; show you the weather, stock prices, and sports results; or find nearby restaurants.
Voice control is available in Windows with Cortana and in macOS with Siri.
Alternate Input Options
How about touch capabilities, pens and dictation?
Windows has always supported full touch compatibility, instead, macOS has only introduced on some models a touch bar.
This drives that Windows supports when a touch screen the use of styli. This option is not available in macOS.
Voice dictation is available on both platforms. To do this in macOS, you have to specifically enable it. Once voice dictation is turned on, you can access it by double-tapping the Fn key. In Windows 10, just hit Windows Key + H and you’re off and dictating.
Monitors, Printers and Other Devices
These systems present some differences in this area.
Connecting multiple monitors can be a little more friendly on Windows and the applications can spread on the monitors, this is not possible on macOS.
Connecting printers is pretty easy in macOS, usually, just connect to the printer and you are able to use the device. Sometimes Windows will struggle with drivers and create some more steps to have it functional.
If you would like to connect your phone, macOS is seamless if you have an iPhone, some issues if you are willing to use an Android or another operating system.
Windows is working to have a My Phone app that should bring the same functionality if not more, but for now, it is not yet there.
Apple Watch is another device that interoperates easily with your macOS and as noted before can even be used to login to your system.
Security and Stability
This is for sure a delicate area. Microsoft has fallen short on security more than macOS which in any case is not immune to vulnerabilities.
Both offer options for VPN support with high-security standards.
On the side of stability, Microsoft gets another hit. Apple controls the hardware ecosystem with proprietary drivers. Most of the issues with stability on Windows are connected to third-party drivers.
If you are really concerned with stability, I suggest you check out Linux, which beats both these platforms.
3D support, VR and Gaming
In these areas, Microsoft has really made an effort to support visualization and editing.
Gaming is for sure a Microsoft goal with the Xbox console and high interoperability with Playstation games.
macOS does not offer that much for this level of Gaming.
Microsoft Windows or Apple macOS?
I hope I gave you some food for thoughts if you are undecided on what platform, or I may have added some confusion.
In my personal experience, everyday tasks can be easily be accomplished on both platforms and the choice may be guided more from external circumstances than from a real difference between the two.