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Mac OS X Yosemite vs Windows 8.1



Whether Apple took inspiration from Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Phone when creating the iOS 8 operating system it’s preparing for the iPhone & iPad will be hotly debated for months to come. The same can’t be said for whether Mac OS X Yosemite takes inspiration from Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 operating system.

Apple announced OS X Yosemite on stage at its World Wide Developers Conference earlier today, and it’s clear that Apple has been paying attention to the moves Microsoft has been making with Windows. It’s also learned where those two operating falls short.


Read: Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite Revealed with iOS 7-Like Redesign, New Features

Look & Feel

For starters, OS X Yosemite will look ridiculously familiar to anyone who has used a Windows desktop or laptop since Windows Vista. OS X Yosemite borrows the clear headers and browser chrome that Microsoft first debuted in that operating system and has continued to use on the desktop ever since. In listening to Apple’s reasoning for making the areas around windows translucent so that users can see through them, the thought process mirror’s Microsoft’s original vision. Apple is hoping that translucency will help users keep user’s eyes focused on the content in each window and less on the window’s trappings. It also doesn’t hurt that Apple uses the same technique to great effect in the iOS 7 operating system for the iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone.

The icons and textures of OS X Yosemite are just as flat and include a slight gradient just like iOS 7. That is to say, it and the Windows 8 Start Screen and design look similar but slightly different. It is worth noting that Apple is adding the ability for users to turn on a night mode that darkens all of this traditionally lightly colored glass.

Functional Parody

Notification Center

A new Today View is included in the OS X Yosemite Notification Center. While that may sound pretty basic, it’s what users can do to it that makes all the difference. Apple says users will be able to add different widgets into the Notification Center. These widgets will be both passive and actionable, that is to say users will be able to do things with them and quickly gather relevant information. The entire system sounds like a remixed Windows 8 Start Screen with interactive live tiles. The difference there is that this new Notification Center won’t completely cover user’s screen just like the updated Windows 8 Start Menu that Microsoft showed off at its BUILD 2014 event.



Apple’s Spotlight search engine has been the end-all-be-all for searching through files on the Mac for some time. In OS X Yosemite Apple is taking that a little further by integrating web searches. Spotlight will allow users to perform searches from the unified taskbar in different Finder windows. Results won’t just be taken from the user’s computer but from websites like Bing, Apple Maps and Wikipedia too.

Users have been able to open web pages from the address bar in File Explorer for some time. That being said, Microsoft added a new way for users to search with Windows 8.1 last year. Dubbed, Bing SmartSearch, it works just like what Apple is describing here, pulling down relevant information from the internet and searching the user’s device at the same time. The different here is that Bing SmartSearch is a full-screen experience in Windows 8.1 and is accessible through a File Explorer Window or through the Search Charm wherever a user is.

iCloud Drive

Of all the features Apple revealed today, it’s going to be iCloud Drive that raises the most eyebrows if only because it so closely mirrors Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage utility.

Apple says that users will be able to upload and store anything in iCloud Drive, an offshoot of its already existing iCloud service. Anything uploaded to iCloud Drive will be automatically made available through OS X Yosemite’s Finder. As such, to users it’ll feel as if their files are located on their device not on Apple’s severs. Microsoft beat Apple to this last year when it released Windows 8.1. OneDrive now does everything Apple says iCloud Drive will and also includes apps for every important platform including Android. Apple says iCloud Drive will have an app that syncs on Windows desktops and laptops, that’s it.

Apple has also paired down the browsing experience in Safari so that users can focus on content. Again, that mirrors a move Microsoft made with Internet Explorer 11’s Windows Store app and the Internet Explorer desktop app.

How Mac OS X Yosemite Stands Out


With all that, one might be included to thank that OS X Yosemite is a small update to introduce feature parody with Windows but they’d be wrong. OS X Yosemite blows Windows 8 out of the water it two very, very key ways.

The first is communication. Whereas Microsoft is still struggling to build something meaningful and workable with Skype, Apple has been busy implementing features Windows 8.1 users can only dream off. Users running iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite will be able to place phone calls and answer text messages – from their Mac. An onstage demo of the functionality revealed it’ll also pull down contact information from the user’s phonebook.

Take a phone call on your Mac using the iPhone.

Take a phone call on your Mac using the iPhone.

The second area where Apple scores big points is for their vision. More specifically, how the iPhone, iPad and Macs will complement each other going forward. With this release, Apple has made it clear that it doesn’t foresee a future in which these different form factors share the same operating system like Microsoft does. Instead, it’s betting that simply making these devices work together in interesting ways will make sense to users. Handoff will allow users to seamlessly open websites and documents across their iPhone and MacOS. Additionally, Mac OS X Yosemite users will be able to activate personal hotspot functionality on their iPhone.

Read: Make Calls and Send Texts on a Mac with OS X Yosemite & iOS 8

In some ways, Apple’s plan should work out decently. Whereas Microsoft is struggling to find the balance between devices working together and being the same, Apple is slowly intermixing different features from its different operating systems and integrating where they make sense. Apple will need to continue to add features before switching from a Mac OS desktop to a iOS tablet is truly seamless, but it won’t get stuck trying to make sense of a desktop operating system on tablets like Microsoft is doing.

Users can download a beta version of Mac OS X Yosemite today. Apple says users should expect the software to become available to everyone this fall.



  1. margreat

    06/02/2014 at 3:20 pm

    Do you mean Functional Parity or are you attempting a funny?

  2. yo

    06/02/2014 at 6:44 pm

    Apple still doesn’t get it. Nobody wants the mac. They need to make IOS work with windows and android, each dominates its market. Windows 8 is already bigger than all of OSX. if apple I devices work better with pcs, then it will be better for users than waste time with OSX…a struggling PC os devoid of market share and developer interest. By refusing to support android and windows, apple is further rendering itself niche and irrelevant. Watch google and MSFT bring all these features to any phone and any PC. No mac required

    • hmmm

      06/03/2014 at 1:05 am

      Struggling os? People dont want the mac? Hahaha get your facts straight! Mac is the leading pc by sales in the US, and 98% of the Fortune 500 companies use only Mac and idevices. Mac is by no means struggling, it has shown more growth than windows has in a decade, this past year alone up by 12% whereas windows is in a negative growth bracket. What apple does, is clearly working for it a lot better than it is for Microsoft as its “struggling PC os devoid of market share” is growing and making more money than all the windows versions combined, and they aren’t even charging money for it, its completely free whereas windows is a paid licence! Ive been using windows for about 10 years and Ive always been plagued by issues, viruses, forever reinstalling windows, data loss, hours of waiting for defragmentation and crazy install times, completely freezing up, backwards compatibility issues etc. Since Ive switched to Mac it just does everything for me, I haven’t had a worry in the world, as instead of hogging my time and having me sit in front of the pc 14 hours a day trying to get things done, it just allows me to do everything extremely efficiently! Im not against windows, and I’m not saying everyone should go out and buy a Mac, each one has their own market and I accept that it is each to their own, but unfounded and derogatory statements about a (clearly) successful os, should be avoided.

      • luis

        06/03/2014 at 1:17 pm

        get your facts straight??? Mac is the leading PC by sales in the US?? I think you are the one who needs the facts straights

      • yo

        06/06/2014 at 5:09 am

        as you can see, the mac is a non event. It is an abandoned platform with little app support. This is why you see parallels or bootcamp on nearly every mac: because it cannot possibly be used effectively outside of the niche markets like writing, imaging and video editing (the last bastions of the old apple).

        Whatever % of fortune companies use a mac, only means there is a mac in the building. We know who the real boss is: windows. This is because apple has no enterprise story. They killed their server product after years of failure. They don’t have a domain infrastructure with the granular permissions and control windows demands. Macs are more like parasites attached to a windows owned network. They are kind of there but as a nuisance IT must deal with rather than an asset.

        After a decade of pushing OSX, consumers flat out rejected it. Apple simply sells to the most faithful but there is no indication that the numbers will ever chagne. And given how iOS is basically, all that matters as far as apple goes, the reality is that I wouldn’t be surprised if apple soon kills the doomed thing.

        but whatever, if after 15 years of single digit marketshare failure, some people still think the mac and windows can even be put in the same sentence and standing, their denial already got the better of them.

    • echoo

      06/06/2014 at 7:32 am

      Windows and android already offer all of these features and have been doing so for quite a while.

  3. Anant Malik

    06/02/2014 at 9:44 pm

    Windows 8.x > all OS X combined with all Linux. :D 8.x is a flop? :D

  4. Satish Singh

    06/03/2014 at 5:22 am

    You agree or not, People at Microsoft are too good at design. Each and every updates coming from Microsoft gives us something new, trendy and stylist. Windows is full fledged user friendly OS. So please dont compare OS X with it. Rather compare OS X with LINUX or UBUNTU.

    • awesomeepicguy

      06/03/2014 at 8:51 pm

      You’re completely wrong. Obvious MS fanboy here. Literally nobody likes Windows 8’s UI. It’s crap. If you want design, go to Apple. MS products are the opposite of user friendly, look like crap, get viruses all the time, and are eventually rendered useless. OS X is the leading OS right now on the market. That’s why Mac sales are blowing Windows out of the water.

      • nonsense

        06/04/2014 at 3:48 pm

        you are fully wrong windows 8.1 isn’t fully prone to viruses all the time actually and i own a microsoft laptop one of the best even, for you to say all the bullshit is just absurd, also please give me every singl percentage of apple os market please i do believe windows xp and 7 and 8 plus 8.1 are a head of apple on that one mate.

        • Ed

          06/06/2014 at 1:32 am

          I do love booting into windows every now and then (i use it for solid works). It’s always a thrill to download my latest daily update for half an hour and then reboot several times before doing any work :)

          Another favourite of mine is control panel :) such a well designed settings window where nothing is in an obvious place and I have to google things like how to turn wireless on and off because its so hidden :P (who would’ve known it was a tiny button on the edge of a window! or hidden on a right click somewhere!) (not helped by the fact there is about 16 different network windows!

          In other news I’m running 10.10 now and its fantastic! looks much cleaner but there are a number of things missing from the developer preview :(

      • yo

        06/06/2014 at 5:11 am

        well nobody seems to be more than mac users :) so there.

  5. Israeli

    06/04/2014 at 5:39 am

    linux + windows 8.1 – in desktop & mac – in laptop — its Wonderful
    Why choose one operating system?

  6. NOLATechy

    06/10/2014 at 7:54 am

    I think you should take a good look at what OS Apple themselves use in their business and then try to convince me that a Mac is better for business. LOL

  7. NOLATechy

    06/10/2014 at 7:59 am

    I think you better recheck your facts bud. Windows 8 has already surpassed OS X’s sales back in Sept 2013 and continues to grow higher to date.

  8. iFan

    07/09/2014 at 6:27 am

    OS X Yosemite rocks. Haters will hate it.
    #Apple #Beats #Microsoft & #Google.

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