June was a busy month for the announcement of new operating systems. In the red corner, we have Apple, who announced MacOS 12, known as Monterey, at WWDC. Microsoft later revealed that they are working on a soon-to-be-released overhaul of Windows, giving us Windows 11. Microsoft and Apple are two of the biggest corporations in the world, and often evoke strong feelings from their proponents. So today, we're going to throw ourselves into the piranha-infested waters of this debate and compare the two. There is a lot to cover. Let's get going.
Features of Windows 11
Windows 11 comes with a raft of innovations and changes. Most obvious is the change in how it looks. Gone is the start menu in the bottom left corner, which has been around since at least Windows 3.1. It now sits in the middle of the screen. At first glance, it could easily be confused with the layout of MacOS, which has had that design for years.
But the changes are far beyond skin deep. There are a range of features and functions which make Windows 11 a big step forward. Some of the biggest changes include:
- Snap layouts - this lets you run three apps side by side, with different layouts to suit your needs. This compares favourably with Monterey, which lets you run a maximum of two.
- Widgets - again, another Apple-inspired feature, but with some added benefits. Widgets will be able to fill the entire screen (should you wish) and are integrated to provide a full dashboard of information, rather than having to open a separate app.
- The ability to run Android software. This is a big addition, and again, mirrors what Apple are doing.
- Teams integration allows you to connect through Teams via voice, text or video. It will also work across Windows, Android and iOS, making it as widely available as possible.
- One really big change is in gaming terms, where the new Windows will support Auto HDR and DirectStorage, as well as integrating Game Pass more fully into the OS. According to Microsoft, this will make Windows 11 the best ever Windows for gaming.
That's a strong set of new features. But what does Monterey offer, in comparison?
Features of MacOS Monterey
Apple has put a lot of focus on making its devices communicate as seamlessly as possible, and Monterey is a really good example of this. The main features include:
- Universal Control. This is not be confused with something a dictator might desire. Universal Control will allow users to share a single mouse and keyboard amongst multiple Apple devices that are close to one another. For example, you can have your iPad next to your iMac, and move your mouse cursor from one device to the other.
- Universal Control will also allow you to drag and drop files from one device to the other. You might do some drawing on your iPad using your Apple Pencil. Then transfer that into a presentation you are working on, on your Macbook.
- Safari is being redesigned, and will enable users to organise tabs into groups as you can do in Chrome.
- iOS integration - this continues the trend of Apple making these devices smoothly work together. A feature called SharePlay will enable users to share media across other devices, and chat about it while it plays in an inset window.
- FaceTime calls can now be initiated even if the person you are inviting doesn't have an Apple device, which is a big departure for Apple.
Another strong set of features from Apple. But which one will be better?
Which is better?
There is no denying that as time has passed, technology firms tend to see a convergence in terms of what they are all offering. One company innovates, it goes down well with consumers, so everyone else imitates. As a result, it becomes harder and harder to really discern what marks one out as "better" or more capable than the other. Microsoft have undoubtedly taken a lot of design cues from MacOS Monterey. Apple are also taking ideas from Windows, and incorporating them into their own ecosystem.
The point really is that this convergence leads all firms towards whatever seems to work best. Very often, this means that there will be far more similarities than differences. Big differences can sometimes be off-putting to consumers. Whereas if something feels similar, it might tempt an Apple user to cross the divide, or vice-versa. Each OS has some great new features: for instance, Universal Control on Monterey sounds like it could be a brilliant addition for enhancing productivity. Windows 11 meanwhile, is making sure that gamers are going to be well looked after. Ultimately, both operating systems look like they are going to have some great new features. The devil is in the detail though, and we won't know for sure how good each is, until they are finally released.
Which one is better? Windows 11 or MacOS Monterey? Probably best if we let someone else make that call.