Laptop Mag’s Mark Spoonauer observes that the Windows vs. Mac wars have entered a new phase with the imminent release Windows 8.1 and OS X Mavericks, and that while you could call the Windows update a course correction – with the re-introduction of a Start button and the ability to boot straight to the desktop – Microsoft is still very much on the path of converging laptops and tablets, while Apple mostly stays the course with OS X Mavericks, enhancing the MAc user experience for existing Mac owners and would-be switchers with time-saving features like Finder Tabs. At the same time, Mavericks continues to borrow features from iOS, including the new Maps and iBooks app.
Consequently, asys Spoonauer, if you’re in the market for a new laptop, you have two very distinct choices in Windows 8.1 and OS X Mavericks, so Laptop’s editors decided to pit the two platforms against one another in 10 rounds of battle to crown a champ, with the caveat that this shootout is based on developer previews for both Windows 8.1 and OS X Mavericks, and that the article will be updated in the fall once both operating systems are in consumers’ hands.
A couple of points stood out for me. One is that Spoonauer reports that Microsoft with 8.1 extends its multitasking lead over OS X by allowing users to run up to four apps on the screen at once, while you cant even snap two windows side by side on OS X Mavericks. Even in Win 8.1′s Modern tablet/touchscreen UI environment you can snap two Modern apps side by side and have them each take up half of the screen. In desktop mode you can also still peek at open programs by hovering your cursor over the app icon, something OS X doesn’t do. on the other hand, Mavericks Spotlight Search engine continues to be a great feature in OS X.
Spoonauer notes that Apple’s MacBook lineup isnt ideal for folks on a tight budget, but that its laptops are actually very good values compared to similarly configured Windows 8 notebooks, and that for example the $1,099 13-inch MacBook Air lasted more than 11 hours on Laptop’s battery test, beating the pants off of all Windows-powered Ultrabooks, but still concludes that Microsoft wins the price/value horserace in terms of sheer variety of choice available and for having many compelling options priced lower than Apple.
In summary, he observes that Windows 8.1 enhances the touch-friendly strengths of Windows 8 while better catering to desktop users, is better at multitasking than OS X Mavericks, and that Microsoft SkyDrive is more robust than Apple’s iCloud. Unlike iCloud, SkyDrive lets you access your files on Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, iOS and Android devices., while with Apple, youre pretty much stuck with iOS, though you can access files via the web.
And if you don’t like Windows 8.1′s Modern Live Tile interface, you can mostly ignore it. However, even though you can find Windows 8 touch-based laptops and tablets on the cheap, the desktop environment in Windows 8.1 continues to be much better with a mouse and keyboard. In comparison, Spoonauer says OS X Mavericks isnt all that ambitious a release compared to the upcoming iOS 7, but it does beat Windows 8.1 in many key categories, is easier to use because there aren’t two competing environments (desktop and tablet), and Mavericks also does a better job with notifications and search, as well as social sharing, and overall he prefers OS X Mavericks to Windows 8.1 because it offers plenty of enhancements without trying to do too much.
You can check out this comprehensive and thoroughgoing comparo at: