Thursday, July 7, 2011

Another reason I love the Mac: ahead of the curve

With the next major release of the Mac operating system, OS X Lion, on the brink of release, I can’t help but realize how much I appreciate the new features coming to my laptop within a few weeks. And I can’t help but notice how archaic and behind the curve Windows seems to be in the same features.

I love the notion of OS X’s new computing paradigms coming in Lion: modal-style, full-screen computing, Auto Save and Resume functions, and Versions (not to mention the beautiful new interface animations and cleanliness). All these things seem like obvious functions of a modern OS, and the idea that our powerful computers have yet to adopt them almost seems silly. Especially now that computers are used by everybody (I mean just about freaking everybody), and not just geeks, means that it’s about time we switch our thinking about what a personal computer is and can be. Why the nerdy notions of “saving," “backing up," and organizing a “filesystem,” not to mention being relegated to the “window” paradigm? Let my computer and applications do all the managing and organizing and backing up of files. It’s smart enough, so why should I have to do it? Besides, regular people hardly feel like learning all that stuff anyway.

The Auto Save, Resume, and Versions features in Lion have much larger implications on personal computing than I think most people realize. And another reason I love the Mac is that Apple is the first to truly implement that stuff across the OS now, giving developers APIs to do the same thing in their apps. But this is not actually new for Apple. The iLife suite that comes on every Mac has been doing this for the past couple of years now, and obviously common productivity apps like iCal and Address Book never required the user to save changes.

But I wonder now, how long will it be until Windows follows suit? I see this simple idea being widely accepted very quickly. And the idea of having to save consistently and duplicate files to have different versions will seem archaic within a few years. Microsoft will probably adopt similar functions in applications sometime in the future.

But right now, they seem really focused on shoehorning Windows onto tablets to care about implementing that stuff. They might surprise me though. It’s happened before.

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