Quick Look: DOES Windows 7 copy Mac?

Yesterday, I went to Best Buy to test out Windows 7. Before, I had seen a release candidate of it, and it looked pretty cool. But when I saw it again, it looked so much more fresh.

Just by the look of it, I can’t really judge whether they made Windows 7 less power-hungry. It still looks like it consumes just as much processor power as Vista.

Start Bar

The Start Bar has gotten mondo bigger, and that takes up screen real-estate, although it’s hideable. No longer does the Start button stick out, and that’s a good thing. The shortcuts in the Start Bar have also gotten mondo bigger, but there is one cool thing: when you scroll over the icons, there is a spotlight on the position of your cursor. Opening that application no longer produces window strips like in XP and Vista. On a Mac, there are no window strips. On Windows 7, you see that the button is layered according to the number of windows of that application that are open. Scrolling over the application icon gives you a quick preview of what windows are open.

When you open an application that is not in the shortcuts, it appears in the shortcuts so long as it opens. Same in Snow Leopard.

The verdict: Windows 7’s start bar is uncannily similar to Mac OS’s Dock. However, it is NOT an exact copy.

Effects

Snow Leopard’s Dock is reflective. That means that it acts like a mirror, reflecting whatever window you have open. On Windows 7, the windows are translucent like fogged glass, so you can see through them somewhat.

Verdict: Transparency and reflection are NOT the same. Transparency has been around since Vista.

Features

One of the new things I’ve seen with Windows 7 is the Snipping Tool. With this, you launch the program and drag your cursor over the area of the screen you would like to screenshot. Macs have had this (at least) since 10.4. I am on a Mac, and to do a partial screenshot, I press F2 and drag my cursor.

Windows 7 has also updated the Magnifier application. It now has a “lens” that zooms over a part of the screen, and a full-screen zoom. Macs have full-screen zoom, just by holding Control+Mouse Wheel.

Verdict: What Mac builds-in directly to their operating system as a feature, Windows builds in as programs. Snipping Tool is suspicious, but Magnifier has been around for years.

Final verdict

According to Microsoft partner group manager Simon Aldous: “‘What we’ve tried to do with Windows 7 – whether it’s traditional format or in a touch format – is create a Mac look and feel in terms of graphics.'” That directly says that Windows tried to borrow from Mac. However, Brandon LeBlanc notes that “‘Unfortunately this came from a Microsoft employee who was not involved in any aspect of designing Windows 7.'”

Aldous assumes that Microsoft tried to create a Mac-like feel. I believe that that statement is true. Even though Aldous was not involved in the design of Windows 7, many consumers have noted similarities between Windows and Mac.

Even with this being said, the two are NOT the same. Windows borrows from Mac OS and tweaks it to fit into their own OS. There are still some features that Windows has that Mac hasn’t, like window previews and (IMPORTANT) Microsoft Paint. Also worth noting is that Mac just introduced 64-bit support. That wasn’t copied from Windows. It was a necessity. Although Windows is trying to sneak in Mac-OS-like features, Windows is still Windows. Mac OS is still Mac OS.

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