Windows Vs. Mac: Mac's Evil Secret
Stunning, eh? We see the taskbar at the bottom of the screen, doing its business.
Now here's a Mac. I couldn't get a decent screenshot, so I snagged this picture from the website.
Notice there's no bar at the bottom. It's instead at the top, with the Dock at the bottom.
Let's compare first the main "Bar" of both Operating Systems. Windows computers naturally have theirs at the bottom, while Macintosh computers have theirs at the top of the screen. This changes things much more than you'd think. When we're sitting, our eyes naturally look down, rather than up.
So when PC users look down, they see a bar. When Mac users look down, they see vast, empty space.
For the sake of the argument, I took a Windows and compared how it looks and feels if the bar is moved.
This is not my computer; I have a Windows Vista.
Now here is the same computer, with the Taskbar at the TOP of the screen:
See that? Instantly, despite the Taskbar not changing in size, or the rest of the screen, it instantly feels much bigger and easier to look at. And by the way, this is an actual screen caputer I took. You CAN move the Taskbar up (for those of you who didn't know). Mac computers look bigger because of a simple eye trick. Not to mention, most Macs come with oversized screens.
Function-wise, the difference between the Windows bar and Mac bar is that Mac's is made to be a UNIVERSAL bar that's used for all programs. Its functions, save for the Apple in the corner, change depending on what application is open.
Meanwhile they have the Dock at the bottom.
The Dock, while being a good idea, is implemented badly. It's a bar of shortcuts to various programs, shows all open programs, and includes the recycling bin at the end. The Dock's changed between versions, but it's maintained several important problems. I don't even need to explain the problems, because somebody else pointed them all out already.
The Dock's trick, however, is that it can be hidden and be changed in size, so Macs can maintain their "big and empty" feel. The Windows Taskbar comes standard as ALWAYS being visible. And with people always looking down, the Taskbar looks like it's in the way of everything.
What the Taskbar does that Mac will never accomplish, however, is combine Mac's two bars into one simple bar. In this way, it performs better than it seems. Mac users need to realize this, and quit whining that "OMG Microsoft stole Apple's ideas they need to get more creative" or whatever.
Whether Microsoft directly took Apple's idea or not, this is an important part of computer evolution; eventually a Windows PC and a Mac will look exactly the same, besides a logo.