Here at PC Advisor we’re naturally biased towards Windows. It isn’t because we can’t see the good in OS X or even Linux, for that matter, but because we’re PC enthusiasts who’ve grown up using Windows from the early days. Microsoft may have made some (catastrophic) errors along the way but Windows 10 is set to be the best version yet.
With the announcement of OS X El Capitan just days ago, it’s the ideal time to compare the beta versions of both operating systems.
But before you head for the comments box below to vent your anger, this isn’t meant to be an exhaustive, every-last-detail comparison. It’s a high-level look at the features – primarily the new ones – to see what’s good in both, but also to show why we won’t be jumping ship… just yet.
Windows 10 vs OS X El Capitan: games
Apple is bringing the fight to Windows thanks to the fact that El Capitan will use the same Metal toolkit as iOS. At WWDC, claims of up to 10x performance were made, and there’s no doubt that it could be a huge boost for gaming on Macs. The game demo wasn’t particularly impressive, but Metal could mean you no longer need a top-end Mac to play 3D games.
Windows 10, on the other hand, inherits the huge collection of games that ran on Windows 8 and 7, so it’s a vastly bigger platform with much more choice. But Microsoft has another potential ace: Windows 10 will come with DirectX 12 which will do for Windows pretty much what Metal is doing for OS X.
Windows 10 vs OS X El Capitan: virtual reality
Sticking with games for a minute, the Oculus Rift will work natively with Windows 10. Games designed specifically for VR will be able to use DirectX 12 which will not only bolster visuals, but also performance.
Oculus recently announced that it was “pausing” development for OS X and Linux and doesn’t “have a timeline” for continuing with it.
Windows 10 vs OS X El Capitan: game streaming
Yet another great Windows 10 feature is that you’ll be able to stream your Xbox One games to your Windows 10 PC or tablet. That’s reason enough for some people to upgrade to Windows 10, but there’s another bonus: game streaming will also work with the Oculus Rift too.
It’s an exciting time to be a gamer, that’s for sure.
Windows 10 vs OS X El Capitan: virtual assistants
There’s more integration than ever before between OS X and iOS, but Siri hasn’t made it to the desktop just yet. We were expecting Apple to announce that Siri would be part of El Capitan, but were wrong. Apple instead boasted about natural language searching when you type queries.
Windows 10, of course, will let you speak to your computer thanks to the arrival of virtual digital assistant Cortana. If you’re a loyal Windows supporter you’ll get the biggest benefit because Cortana will work across your desktop, laptop, tablet and phone. You can tell her to remind you about something while using your phone and get that reminder on your PC later on.
We’re yet to really see how Cortana works in Windows 10 in the UK, but her ability to search the web local files and your OneDrive should make it faster and easier to find things even if you don’t have a Windows Phone or any other devices running Cortana.
There’s a good chance that Siri will be in the final version of El Capitan, but we’ll have to wait until later in the year to know for sure.
Windows 10 vs OS X El Capitan: Interface
Windows 10 has a few things going for it in the interface department. Mainly it’s about familiarity for users of Windows 7 (and earlier versions) thanks to the return of a Start menu and windowed ‘Modern’ apps.
There are now virtual desktops as standard and some handy ways to manage them including a new Snap Assist feature.
For Mac users, such features have been a staple of OS X for a long time. Plus, thanks to the new range of gestures, it’s one of the best-designed and easiest-to-use operating systems around. It also looks great.
Windows 10 still has too many cartoonish elements from Windows 8 for our liking and – on the desktop – it’s still jarring to switch from a traditional app interface such as Photoshop to a Modern app.
Where Windows scores how it works on hybrid devices. Even if you dislike Windows as a tablet OS, the new Continuum mode means apps behave differently when you switch from laptop to tablet mode. For some people, mostly Surface 3 and Pro 3 owners, it means they can carry one device to do everything. No need for both a MacBook and iPad.
Similarly, there will be Universal apps which run across desktops, tablets and phones running Windows 10 so – like Cortana – it won’t really matter which device you pick up: your stuff will be accessible.
It’s also good that there’s a firm focus back on the keyboard and mouse for desktop users, but Windows 10 still has a way to go to catch up with Apple when it comes to interfaces and user experience.
Windows 10 vs OS X El Capitan: price and availability
Both OSes will be free updates, so there’s nothing to choose between the rivals on price. Both are also compatible with lots of existing hardware, so it’s likely you’ll be able to get the update even if you have an old computer.
When it comes to Windows Phone, there are bound to be a few devices that won’t get an update to Windows 10, but as we’ve said, once you hold a phone running Windows 10 in your hand it should be easy to start something on one device and carry on on another.
Windows 10 vs OS X El Capitan: Early verdict
They may not be the perfect operating systems, but both Windows 10 and OS X El Capitan look to be the best versions yet. They're not finished yet, so we'll have to wait until they're released to see exactly how they perform day to day.
In truth though, comparing them is just a bit of fun: you can’t run OS X on your PC (or hybrid laptop, tablet or smartphone), and while you can install Windows 10 on a Mac, you don’t have sacrifice OS X to do so. You can use both, so there’s no need to choose between them and no need for us to declare a winner here.
If you happen to be trying to choose between buying a Mac or a PC, then it really comes down to whether you want to play the latest games. If so, go for Windows 10. If not, it doesn’t really matter which platform you choose.