Sunday, August 27, 2006

Mac OS, Leopard VS Windows Vista

With the announcement of its upcoming Leopard operating system, Apple Computer Inc. means to present a direct challenge to industry behemoth Microsoft. And it's likely that within the next year, both consumers and businesses will have to decide between Redmond's massive OS overhaul or the latest kitty out of Cupertino.

Before Apple's recent announcement that it would be releasing OS X 10.5, called Leopard, it appeared that Apple would be drawing mainly on its streamlined OS interface to try and best Microsoft, along with emphasis on its switch to Intel. But the recent news that it would be building robust features into Leopard puts the fresh system directly in competition with Vista, changing the rules of engagement.

As Microsoft began its campaign to ease users into thinking about Vista, it seemed that Apple's only answer would be to point out that it now runs on Intel chip, and emphasize the ability to toggle between Windows and Mac systems thanks to new software.

Some speculated that Apple's new application, Boot Camp, could be enough to draw at least a small percentage of users away from Windows.

In some ways, that may still be the case. Considered a boon for Mac users, and a compelling option for those who've been intrigued by Macs but don't want to fully commit, Boot Camp is an alluring application. It allows users to install and run Windows XP on a Mac, as well as toggle between the two simply by restarting and holding down the option key, the application is already available in a public beta.

"Boot Camp will win over a small percentage of customers that won't migrate to Apple's OS because of applications that don't run on Apple," says Samir Bhavnani, director of research at Current Analysis. "The company has been good about getting to the point where they say to users, 'you don't have to switch completely. We understand about you need to run Windows sometimes. But we'll also allow you to have an Apple experience.'"

In creating Boot Camp, Apple has actually become more adept at marketing Windows functions than Microsoft, Bhavnani believes.

But beyond Boot Camp, it turns out, Apple intends to intensify its chances of winning Windows users, and wasn't about to rest on the laurels of Boot Camp. With the new OS X 10.5 version, planned for shipping in spring 2007, users will be able to tap into new backup and recovery technology, introduce virtual desktops, and have more powerful iChat functions.

The Leopard Mail software has a number of new features, according to the company, including templates, better manageability, and a synching function with iCal, RSS news feeds, and better smart mailboxes.

"Apple has incremental approaches to operating system development," says Ted Schadler, analyst at Forrester Research. "It allows them to add features quickly, with a strong degree of compatibility."

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