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Mac OSX 10.8 & Windows 8

October 22, 2012

© 2012 by Nick B. Nicholaou, all rights reserved
President, Ministry Business Services, Inc.
Reprinted from Christian Computing Magazine 

Operating system updates are a way of life, but are they good or necessary; desirable or to-be-avoided?  The manufacturers would say they are good, necessary, and desirable, but that’s not always true. Let’s take a look at the two most recent releases and see where they land.

There is no doubt that desktop and notebook sales are declining while tablets and smartphones are on the rise.  Both of these OSes are leaning into the trend towards mobile devices, offering replacements to the standard menu approach to launching apps.  Both rely in increasing measure on their respective app stores for delivery of updates and additional apps.

Mac OSX 10.8— Mountain Lion
Many wondered what Apple would do after Lion since that cat is at the top of the food chain; Mountain Lion is the latest in the OSX big cat series.  It builds on some of the changes in Lion and cleans a few things up, but is lacking in some areas.

Launch Pad.  Launch Pad was introduced on the Dock in Lion, and is an iPad-like way to launch apps.  In Mountain Lion it is more customizable and is a nice way to keep the Dock simple by putting rarely used apps in another easy-to-access-and-use location.  I moved all of the apps I never use to a second page in groups like Utilities from Apple, Utilities from Microsoft, and Misc Utilities.  That way when launching Launch Pad I only see the apps I occasionally use.

Mission Control.  Mission Control has gotten better and more stable with Mountain Lion.  This helpful feature allows you to run apps on multiple virtual monitors, or displays. Simply swiping your fingers across the track pad of Magic Mouse surface moves between displays, increasing focus and productivity.  Many apps, when set to run fill screen, can automatically launch into a new virtual display as well.  It would be nice if moving between different virtual displays didn’t affect all physical displays if more than one are connected, but that is a minor inconvenience.

Recent Items.  On the General tab in System Preferences is a setting that Apple messed up in Mountain Lion.  Recent Items previously let the user configure files, apps, and servers separately.  In Mountain Lion they decided that there would be a universal setting for all three categories, making the feature much less useful.

Network Connections.  For some reason OS manufacturers like to prefer wireless connections over wired  connections.  Though you can sort the various connections options on the Network tab in System Preferences, doing so has no effect on how the OS will prefer to communicate.  I find that if I have wired and wireless connections active, the OS will prefer the wireless connection almost to the exclusion of the faster and more reliable wired connection.  So I turn off wireless connections whenever I connect via Ethernet cable to force the system to use the cable.

Miscellaneous.  In Mountain Lion I have been pleased with improvements to battery life and display image quality.

Conclusion: Thumbs up!  When Mountain Lion was introduced it was a little buggy.  With a few minor fixes and the first service pak, however, it became a recommendable OS.

Windows 8
Windows 8 is a whole new desktop paradigm that, so far, may only make sense on a tablet device.  Rather than booting up to a desktop with a Start Button, it boots to a Start Page. 

The biggest complaint from users so far is the absence of the Start Button—even when entering the Desktop (it acts like an app on the Start Page).  I did find a way, however, to add app shortcuts normally found on a Start Button:

  1. Right-click on the Start Page and go to All Apps in the lower right corner.
  2. Right-click on any app shortcut you want to add and then click on Pin to Start in the lower right corner.

Microsoft is likely moving towards taking all Windows devices and giving them the same OS with their release of Windows 8.  That is a great strategy, and it is similar to Apple’s with IOS devices and changes they’ve recently made to the Mac OS.  However, the change in Windows 8 is so radical for desktop and notebook users that I don’t think many in the enterprise will be interested in adopting it.  The learning curve is so high that productivity will take a big hit on those devices.  And productivity equals profit in the corporate world.

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