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Mac or Win?

Joel, which Human Interface Guidelines, to your opinion, are more user-friendly and use-oriented, Macintosh (Mac OS X) or Windows?

Which OS is easier to use in terms of user interface?

Dennis
Monday, February 23, 2004

There is no significant difference between Mac OS X and Windows XP that makes one a better GUI than the other.

However, to a user who is familiar with Windows, Macs will seem awkward and require relearning, and vice-versa. Which is why Mac users think that there's something wrong with the Windows user interface, and vice versa.

This is in my book: a user interface is easy to use when the program model corresponds to the user model. In the case of a user who has learned the Mac model, the Windows program model will not correspond exactly, and it will be harder to use.

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Monday, February 23, 2004

The single biggest UI whiz bang feature that the Mac OSX has and that I think Longhorn is getting is the vector based icons. I mean, to resize the icons at any size is a very cool thing. The opportunity for feedback (in the case of the Mac dock when you mouse over) is also very positive for the user experience.

Unfortunately when Longhorn comes out we will have to listen to the mac-heads say "we had that in 2002". :)

m
Monday, February 23, 2004

Note that Mac OS X's cool icons are not actually vector graphics. They just have more detailed bitmaps to resize, so it looks cool.

runtime
Monday, February 23, 2004

Thanks for the info, I stand corrected.

http://www.macdevcenter.com/pub/a/mac/2001/05/24/aqua_design.html?page=2

m
Monday, February 23, 2004

Ahem, we had it in 2000.

SCNR. :-)

.
Monday, February 23, 2004

Well, and in Longhorn, it's prevalent in the entire graphics sub-system. For Avalon-targetted apps, you don't think in terms of pixels any more -- and it's about time!

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Monday, February 23, 2004

It's not the right place to ask, but every time I use a Mac I'm confused as to why there's no maximize button. How is it a usability advantage to not be able to, with one click, have your application use the full space your monitors allows?

And then, even if you do want to make the window the full size, you have to be sure to move the whole window to the top left and then grab the bottom-right corner to enlarge it because, for some reason, it's a usability advantage to only allow resizing from one corner of the window.

I agree that there is almost no difference in using Mac vs. Windows, but I have a hard time thinking of obvious usability things that the Mac does that are inexplicably missing on Windows.

Dave Rutledge
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

There is a maximize button under OS X, but it's broken -- it doesn't reliably expand to fill all available space, and then because it's technically just a quick resize routine, the same window size gets applied to all subsequent windows (at least, that's how the browsers handle it).  So it's really worse than not having one at all.  (=

As for features on the Mac that are missing in Windows, there's Expose (eyecandy, maybe, but *useful* eyecandy).  And the ability to define an arbitrary number of network configurations; that comes in quite handy on my iBook.  Fortunately, it's not a consideration on my highly stationary Windows box, which requires major cable management even to pull it out a foot...

Sam Livingston-Gray
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The main usability feature the Mac currently has that is missing in Windows is a full-featured command line.

Dennis Atkins
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Well, if you're in OSX, there's a fullblown UNIX command prompt - as OSX is actually a BSD clone under the hood.

Marius

Marius Mathiesen
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The green button in OS X doesn't maximize a window, it makes it as big as it needs to be. So it's not a bug, it's by design.

On the Mac there are no "application windows" since the whole interface model is not about applications but about documents. In this way there is no real fullscreen mode since it confuses too many people ("where is everything else?").

There is a frame that is a bit smaller than the screen. Applications are not supposed to expand beyond this frame (the screen minus the menu bar minus the dock minus a safety zone to reach the desktop).

.
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Read Dennis's comment again: that was the point of his comment about the command line.

Regarding the Maximize button: it helps to think of it as a "right size" button - for some value of "right". Back in the day, before Win95, Mac users used the desktop far more than Windows users, so the convention arose to leave a strip of desktop visible on the right hand side of the screen. It makes sense in a wordprocessor for the button to set the window width to the page width if possible. The button can even *shrink* a Finder window if it contains only a few icons. Essentially, what it does is up to the application developer, not the OS.

A.T.
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Ah, I see.  I've been using this iBook for a year and never got that.  I still don't like the behavior, but it makes a little more sense now... (=

I find it amusing, though, that in going from 10.2 to 10.3, Apple added a keystroke to show or hide the desktop (windows+M), and made the command+tab (which I still think of as alt+tab, because that's where the physical key is) work exactly like it's worked on Windows since forever.  Perhaps "everything that rises must converge?"

Sam Livingston-Gray
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Dennis, I hope you recognize the irony :-)

Remembering 1984 ...

Ryan Tate
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Yes I do recognize the irony! It's a real wind-whacker how much things have changed. If someone told me 5 yrs ago that the Mac would overtake Solaris in Unix sales, I would have thought him deranged.

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

mind-whacker not wind-whacker

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

The most significant GUI advantage of Mac over Win , I think, are:

- Document oriented design concept. Thus, toolbar always on top.

- Keyboard shortcuts that are much easier to use on Mac.

Can't think of any significant interface advantages of Win over Mac, except, that you can drag any document borders to resize a document window.

Dennis
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Re: maximizing. In Windows, you can't drag a maximized window, or resize it, yet there's little visual clue that that's what's going on. The usability advantage of the Mac system is that windows are stateless - you can drag and resize them whenever.

Graham
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

A late addition to this thread, but: I've always found the Mac model of window resizing much more useful than the Windows model, because it preserves the illusion of the window as a physical object that you can push around in any direction. The lack of a 'right-size' button in Windows is possibly the most annoying thing ever (apart from Mac programs that don't implement it properly...)

Tom
Monday, March 29, 2004

Something I'm missing from the Mac UI is the ability to switch a checkbox from yes to no with the arrow key. I used to do it under Windows and I don't see the advantage of having to click into the box and changing from open to cancel by a mouseclick.

Am I missing some alternative which is more intuitive?

I remeber once I was looking for a way to place layout elements in Filemaker and was a bit shocked to realise that you just could just place them with the arrow keys, incredibly easy!

Inge-Monika Hofmann
Tuesday, April 20, 2004

As soon as Exposé was invented for the Mac someone copied it to Windows as shareware (I think) and now the users of Jaguar are in the somewhat bizarre position to not be able to have access to the Exposé functionality without upgrading to Panther (at least 100 USD plus full upgrade say goodbye to some functionality hassle)while Windows users can get it for about 15 USD....

I envy them.

Inge-Monika Hofmann
Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Re: Full screen mode in Macs?

I happened to find an application which overrides the UI rules by offering a full screen mode for writers. It is Ulysses by  http://www.blue-tec.com  and I like this zen-like-feeling when everything else is gone from the screen except your letters and words and the creative writing process resembles again like in typewriter times more a creation (add the little bang of the typewriter sound) than an act of mangement of windows, fonts and stylesheets...

Inge-Monika Hofmann
Tuesday, April 20, 2004

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