Saturday, November 04, 2006

Technical merits of Vista over MacOS X

Truth be told, MacOS X seems pretty ok.  I was really excited before it came out because I had used NeXT for years in the 90s.  But my perspective changed over the years after working on Windows and with .NET.

I installed Vista RC 2 about ten days ago on my desktop machine and have been pretty impressed.  Since almost all MacOS X vs. Vista comparisons are purely superficial, it occurred to me to compare the two on purely technical merits.  Here are some major ones:

  1. .NET Framework 3.0 and Visual Studio 2005 provide  a superior development environment.  In my experimentation with Windows Presentation Framework, I've been impressed with it as a UI and drawing toolkit.  WCF (Windows Communication Framework) makes me cry in a good way since I am currently working on web services at work.  The .NET 2.0 framework is what I already use every day and wouldn't trade it for anything else out there -- the WinFX improvements in Vista are spectacular and finally gets .NET into the hands of users.
  2. Choice of hardware configurations.  I'm not sure why Apple aficionados don't take this point seriously.  I want to be able to configure a laptop with a better graphics card than what Apple offers.  If Dell doesn't offer what I want in a desktop replacement laptop, I can order it from Sager, or Lenovo, and so on.   On the desktop side, I can build my own machine from Newegg with exactly the parts I want.  This is not possible with a Mac.  Secondary to this... there's also no guarantee that any aftermarket part I'd want to buy for the Mac would have drivers.
  3. DirectX has better hardware and driver support than OpenGL.  OGL now lags far behind when it comes to working with hardware shaders and plays catchup with DirectX.  While you might think this only affects games, WPF leverages DirectX capabilities in everyday apps.
  4. Embedded SQL engines are rising in popularity.  I've used them for my baseball and basketball statistics mining, which is admittedly a special case, but I see SQL needs on the rise.  For this embedded SQL, Microsoft now offers SQLServer Express.  Apple offers SQLite (CoreData).  While I actually like SQLite, I'll take SQL Express between the two.  SQLServer 2005 is really, really good.

Honorable mentions -- not necessarily technical (in no particular order):

  • Being able to play DRMed music from Rhapsody on my Xbox 360 over Windows Media Connect.
  • Windows Media Center.
  • Games -- not the least of which is Majong Titans :)
  • All major hardware and software products get released with Windows support  (unless from Apple, of course).
  • Microsoft's UI philosophies have now moved ahead of Apple's.  I agree with choices made in Aero more so than OSX.  I also think Vista's accessibility features are excellent.

In any case, I'm excited to have the Vista release installed on my machine and millions of others.  Finally independent developers can start releasing .NET applications without the added download of the .NET framework!

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