14 Differences Between Mac and Windows Operating System

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What are the difference between Mac and Windows operating system? The macOS comes with all those features that powers up each and every Mac system. These systems will allow you to do things that you simply, or probably, cannot do with other computers.

This is due to its specific design that supports the hardware components the systems run on, and vice versa. Add to that, the macOS typically comes with a complete set of apps that are very useful and designed beautifully.

This operating system will work perfectly well and hand in hand with iCloud. This will allow you to store your documents, photos, and all other data files safely. It will also help you to keep all of your data and files up to date on your device.

The operating system is built with ultimate security and privacy. Therefore, the macOS will work like magic in your iPhone or any other Apple devices.

The brand, Apple Incorporation, is on the constant lookout to develop their operating system and include newer and better features in it in every new version of macOS.

Take a look at the latest macOS Catalina and you will see all new features included in it. Some of the best features that are included in Catalina are:

  • The dedicated apps for listening to music, watch TV and use your podcasts and
  • A sidebar that will allow you to use a second Mac display, your iPad.

The smarter operating system, in fact, includes all those smart apps that you use every day.

The OS is simple and easy to use. The design of it is such that it will allow you to perform any task on your computer, just the way you desire.

You can operate through simple and intuitive gestures or by asking Siri, the voice assistant, to find a file or app for you. It is all up to your convenience. Surprisingly, you can even have your apps update themselves automatically.

In short, whatever you want to do by using macOS, you will see that there is a lot more to accomplish and a lot less to learn if you know how to use a macOS. It is all due to the features of the macOS. These are:

  • The Finder, which will allow you to browse and organize your files easily on your Mac device because it will be stored in the iCloud Drive.
  • The Dark Mode, which will add a new dimension to the look of your desktop and apps so that you can focus more on the specific content.
  • The Spotlight, that will help you in finding whatever you want more effortlessly and quickly by typing just a few keywords in the search field.
  • The Notification Center, which is much similar to iPhone and can be brought up by swiping two fingers from the right side of the touchpad, will help you to see all the recent alerts that have come in.
  • Siri, which will help you to get all your things done simply by using your voice. It can do more than one thing at a time.

Therefore, a macOS is all about continuity that will promise you one seamless user experience across all your Apple devices.

The factors that make the macOS so popular are:

  • Privacy – You will have full control on your personal information and data due to the strict privacy policy of Mac to handle data.
  • Security – The advanced technologies used in making the operating system will ensure safe running and working of the apps and store data safely on the web.
  • Apps – You will get a wide collection of powerful and native apps similar to iPhone or iPad which are specifically designed to work with iCloud.
  • Media – The all new OS includes TV, music, and podcasts in three different apps to enhance your user experience.
  • Creativity – You can convert home videos into treasured movies quickly and share the clips with your friends.
  • Productivity – You can envisage data more persuasively and precisely in text and spreadsheets with images and shapes to create more beautiful documents but with striking simplicity.
  • Communication – You can manage all your mails and accounts using powerful and single app that will work perfectly with different email services such as Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, iCloud, and Microsoft Exchange.
  • Organization – The more powerful search and a unique gallery view will help you to organize your work more accurately and manage your files and folders quickly.
  • Internet – You can use the internet more easily and have a quick and easy access to the web seamlessly using the updated start page.
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All these features along with the assistive technologies such as Voice Over, FaceTime5, Accessibility Keyboard, and Text to Speech enables everyone to use macOS and get the best out of it as well as their Apple devices.

Take a look at the latest Mac OS X Lion and you will know why people favor macOS.

  • It comes with more powerful core technology to make it more compatible and transfer your files, data and photos easily.
  • It allows multi-touch gestures and using full-screen apps originally designed for mobile devices of Apple.
  • It also comes with an auto-save feature that is extremely helpful for absent minded users.
  • It has a simple setup process and facilitates easy sharing of files through its AirDrop feature which allows you to connect to other computers and devices that run on Airdrop.

The most unique features of the macOS are its Braille verbosity setting that helps the people who are visually impaired, and the ability of it to change the IP address of your computer!

Windows operating system, on the other hand, is developed by Microsoft Corporation. This is designed to run on personal computers.

This PC enabled operating system featured the first ever GUI or Graphical User Interface for IBM-compatible computing devices.

However, over time, Windows OS very quickly took up the PC market and dominated it with over 90% of the PCs all over the world running on some version or the other of Windows operating systems.

The Windows operating system is the de facto standard of all business and home PCs. It is the flagship OS of Microsoft and the GUI-based version was introduced in 1985.

There have been several different versions of Windows OS released since then. Their releases are as follows:

  • Windows 1.0 was released in 1985 that basically ran on top of DOS.
  • Windows 2.0 and 2.11 was released in 1987 that was faster, came with more GUI and was more stable, compatible and supported extended memory with its Intel 80386 processor.
  • Windows 3.0 was launched in 1990 that was more responsive, came with 16 color support and included common PC games like Hearts, Solitaire and Minesweeper.
  • In 1993, Windows released Windows NT which was a more advanced 32-bit operating system with a hardware abstraction layer.
  • Windows 95 was launched in 1995 which included the ‘Start’ button and featured the Rolling Stones song ‘Start me up,’ 32-bit color depth, plug and play feature to facilitate hardware installation, TCP/IP network and enhanced multimedia competences.
  • Then came Windows 98 in the year 1998 with enhanced plug and play support, improved speed, and their debutants, Quick Launch bar and USB support.
  • 2000 saw the release of Windows ME or Millennium Edition which used the Windows 95 codebase for the last time and came with the new System Restore feature. However, this was considered to be unstable and a poor release, and was termed as ‘Mistaken Edition’ by the critics.
  • Microsoft soon came up with the professional desktop operating system in the same year which used Windows NT code and restructured plug and play support making it more stable and reliable.
  • Windows XP was released in 2001 which is considered to be the first NT code-based operating system aimed for the home users mainly. It was highly rated for its improved appearance, more stable platform, colorful themes and for its 64-bit computing support for the first time. It also ended DOS based gaming.
  • After a gap of five years, Microsoft released Windows Vista with a more refined appearance and exciting visual effects in 2006. However, it was slow to start and perform and could not operate properly as it did not enable enough RAM.
  • Windows 7 came in the market in 2007, that was built on the Vista kernel, picking up its visual capabilities and ensuring more stability with faster boot times, inclusion of Internet Explorer 8, and a new user interface along with more DirectX features and 64-bit support.
  • 2012 was the year when Windows 8 was released in which the unique tile-based Metro user interface was included for the first time along with multicore processing, touchscreen, solid-state drives, and alternate input methods.
  • Then came the latest Windows 10 in 2015, skipping Windows 9. This version of Windows operating system included the Start menu once again which was missing in Windows 8. It has a more receptive design feature called Continuum, on screen back button, and much abridged touch input.
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Microsoft has always tried to design their operating systems in a much better way to ensure that it is stable and more consistent in performance, whether it is used for a desktop PC, a laptop computer or a tablet.

Considering all different versions of Windows operating systems, the most differentiating features are its:

  • Speed
  • Compatibility
  • Lower hardware necessities
  • Better search and organization
  • Improved safety and security
  • Attractive user interface
  • Useful taskbar or start menu.

However, if you have to choose between Windows and a macOS, you will need to know more about the differences between the two.

Differences Between Mac and Windows Operating System

Differences between Mac and Windows Operating System

1. Interface

The most noticeable difference between the features of Windows and Mac operating systems is the user interface. The UI of macOS is considered to be simpler, more streamlined, and beautiful.

The interface of the Windows operating system is considered to be more complex. It comes with more features as well as more customization choices.

2. Design Style

The design of the macOS has soft edges. It is meant for a more consistent application across all different types of apps.

The design of Windows OS is more irregular. In fact, user interfaces can even change between two programs often.

3. Shortcuts

The Mac operating system comes with a more obstinate bar located at the bottom of the screen. It favors the Dock and allows accessing the most commonly used apps and shortcuts easily.

On the other hand, the Windows operating systems come with a taskbar and a start menu at the bottom of the screen that has the shortcuts to access the files and apps.

4. Hard Drive Navigation

In Windows, you can use the File Explorer to navigate the hard drives. However, this happens to be much more complicated and potentially richer with features.

The macOS Finder, on the other hand, is much simpler and integrated with the iOS devices through the Sidecar software. The traditional and characteristic AirDrop and iMessage also helps it in this aspect.

5. Voice Assistant

The name of the voice assistant in Windows is Cortana. This comes with a bit more features that helps in easy operation.

A year later, Apple came up with its voice assistant in macOS and named it Siri which is well appreciated by all the users of all iOS devices in spite of its limited features.

6. Gaming

The Windows operating system supports a lot in gaming. However, this is not due to the OS itself. It is primarily due to the support provided by the developer and the hardware components in the system.

In comparison, the Mac operating system may not support gaming as much as the Windows OS but the brand has slowly but surely started to catch up.

7. Naming

The earlier varieties of macOS were named after big cats such as Tiger, Mountain Lion, Snow Leopard and Puma. The later ones were named after different regions of California such as Sierra, Yosemite, and Mojave.

There is no specific pattern in naming the different versions of Windows operating system.

However, every version came with ‘Windows’ as a prefix and sometimes a single or double-digit number like 7,8,9, and 10 or 1.0,2.0,3.0, or years like 95, 98, and even ME to signify its year of release. Windows is also named as Vista, NT, XP as well.

8. Ownership

The Windows operating system owned and developed by Microsoft Corporation was first released in 1984. The latest Windows 10 came in 2015.

MacOS is owned and developed by Apple Incorporation. This consumer version of this GUI-based OS was introduced in 2001. Different versions were released such as macOS X 10.0 to macOS 10.14.

9. Vulnerability

The Windows operating system is much more vulnerable to malware, virus attacks, and ransomware.

Apart from its vulnerable features, it is also due to the fact that most users run their system on this OS making it a favored platform for such attacks.

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In comparison, the frequency of such attacks is much less for macOS. It has a lot of useful measures and built-in functions in place to combat these attacks and updates them continuously to keep the systems of their users secure.

10. Usage

The group of different proprietary Windows graphical operating systems is one of the most used one across billions of devices all over the world. It can be used by computers of all companies.

The Unix based macOS developed with C, C++, Swift, Objective-C, and assembly language ranks second in usage after Windows. This is because it is specifically designed to be used in Apple Mac computers.

11. Architecture Support

The Windows operating system supports specific computer architectures such as IA-32, IA-64, ARM, x86-64, Alpha, PowerPC, and MIPS.

As for the macOS, on the other hand, the 10.4.7 version till the present one supports x86-64 architecture, the 10.4.4 and 10.6.8 versions support IA-32 and 10.0 to 10.5.8 macOS supports PowerPC architecture.

12. File Support

The Windows operating system will support file systems like FAT, FATX, NTFS, ISO 9660, HFS, HFS+, and UDF.

However, macOS will support different file systems such as HFS, HFS+, APFS, UFS, ISO 9660, FAT, AFP, UDF, SMBFS, NFS, NTFS, WebDAV, FTP, and ZFS.

13. Management

Though the kernel type of both Windows and macOS is hybrid with modules here, the package management of Windows operating system is custom installer or MSI. As for update management, it uses Windows Update.

Whereas, the package management of macOS is its installer only, and the updates are managed by Software Update.

14. Native API

The native APIs of the Windows operating system are NT API and Win32.

The native APIs of Mac operating systems are Java, Carbon, Cocoa, and BSD-POSIX.

Which is Better – Mac or Windows Operating System?

Due to the differences mentioned above, choice between the two operating systems boils down to personal needs and tastes.

Both these operating systems have out-of-the-box features and software that will help you to use your computing device to its fullest potential.

The built-in software in both will help you to perform and manage most of your day-to-day computing tasks, albeit with its characteristic restrictions.

In spite of the differences between macOS and Windows, you cannot say with certainty that any particular operating system is 100% safe and secure from malicious attacks.

However, it is found through several surveys and researches that the users of macOS are somewhat more protected than the Windows users.

This is basically due to the large number of Windows users, which actually increases the possibilities of such attacks.

Moreover, macOS is much more accessible overall, especially for the average computer users.

To make your choice between the two, you will need to consider a few specific factors such as:

  • The setup processes and experience
  • The log in options
  • Hardware options offered
  • The apps included
  • Compatibility with third-party software
  • Interface customization
  • Search options such as by typing on the search box or through voice assistant
  • Alternate input options
  • Voice Artificial Intelligence helpers
  • Mobile integration
  • Taskbar or Dock preference
  • Desktop and Window management
  • File Explorer or Finder preference
  • 3D and Virtual Reality support
  • Gaming options and performance
  • Security
  • Stability and
  • Accessibility.

Considering all these factors, Windows operating system is the winner. However, do not ignore macOS completely.

In some situations, it works at par Windows and in some, macOS even outperforms Windows operating system.

You will need to know your priorities based on your preferences to choose the right type of operating system.

For example, if you play games a lot, Windows OS should be your only choice and if you are creative, you will be better off using a Mac operating system.


In order to make a fair choice between Apple macOS and Windows 10, you will need to be objective.

Therefore, research and compare your needs with the features, functionality, speed and other specs of the operating systems as well as the specific device you own and want to use it on. Most importantly, do not rush your decision.