Does Your Business Need Mac’s Snow Leopard Or Windows 7?

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The latest Mac OS runs faster 64 bit apps and supports MS Exchange, but will that be enough to convince companies to take it onboard?

Apple demonstrated the new version of its popular operating system, Mac OS X, at its World Wide Developers Conference, 8 June. Dubbed Snow Leopard, the new operating system is an iterative update. The operating system’s design is quite similar to that of current versions of the software. Ironically, Snow Leopard will only work with Intel-based Macs. Because of that, all legacy Macs containing Power PC chips will not be able to run Snow Leopard.

During the keynote presentation, as Apple was introducing its new operating system, Bertrand Serlet, Apple’s senior vice president of software, took the stage. He immediately fired a shot at Microsoft. Instead of ignoring Windows 7 and focusing the audience’s attention on Mac OS X, Serlet said; “Windows 7 is just another version of Vista.”

It’s a tough comment from a company that is far behind Microsoft in the operating system market. But it’s also an indicative comment. Apple is firmly focused on beating Microsoft in the operating system space. It wants the world to know that Snow Leopard is ready to take on Windows 7. And most importantly, it wants the world to know that it can compete on any level with Microsoft’s latest OS.

But is that really true? Apple’s Snow Leopard might be just fine for consumers, but to say it will be ideal for business is a different story. In that area, it’s Windows 7 that wins out.

New features

Mac OS X Snow Leopard does have a variety of new features. Finder has been reworked. It now finds and previews documents more quickly than it did in previous versions of the tool. And its search tool makes it easier to perform a customised search to find files.

Windows 7 has a similar feature. Although it wasn’t reworked as much, finding files in the OS is made simple with the operating system’s search and menu system that’s quite similar to Windows Vista. It makes finding files quite easy.

A major update to Mac OS X is the use of Exposé in the Dock. According to Apple, users will be able to add icons to the Dock and view all the active instances of that application currently running. It will show full previews just like it does in the current version of Exposé.

However, Windows 7 may just have the edge. Microsoft’s latest OS has a reworked task-bar, similar to the Dock, which lets users view all the open instances of an application. They can sift through them one by one and then pick the window they want to open in full size. It’s quite similar to Snow Leopard’s preview function, and it’s so good that I don’t see how Apple’s can be any better than Microsoft’s.

Apple has finally built Exchange support into its operating system. According to the company, support will be available in Mail, Calendar and Address Book. Users can also search for Exchange messages using Mac OS X’s Spotlight search.

Microsoft has supported Exchange in its operating systems since the beginning. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Windows’ implementation of Exchange support will be better, but considering Microsoft has been at it much longer, you can bet it’ll work quite well in Windows 7. Apple’s decision to add Exchange support has taken a while to get here, but it doesn’t necessarily provide unique value to businesses.