With Apple announcing this week that its Snow Leopard operating system will be made publicly available on August 28, its set to go head-to-head with Microsoft's latest operating system - Windows 7 - which will launch on October 22.

We've looked at the two operating system to find out just what are they're biggest new features.

Mac OS X Snow Leopard

Exposé Interactivity

The feature that shows all windows together is no longer a simple means for switching among them. It will be possible to drag content from one previewed window to the other.

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Exposé will also work for individual applications by clicking and holding their icons in the dock. As a workaround for the miniscule preview windows in the dock, these improvements aren't bad.

Smart services

Control-clickers will delight in new context-sensitive menus that appear when you perform the Windows-equivalent of a right click. For instance, highlighting and control-clicking text in a web browser lets you send the text to an email or import it to iTunes as a spoken word track.

Smaller install

Use the £25 upgrade to Snow Leopard, and you'll get 7GB of your hard drive back. That's not a feature, per se, but it's certainly an innovation. The last thing we want is an operating system that's continually gaining weight.

VoiceOver

Though it won't be used by the majority of Mac owners, VoiceOver is arguably the most expansive addition to OSX. This tool for visually-impaired users essentially turns the trackpad into a screen reader, supporting special gestures to switch between windows and audio feedback when clicking.

Chinese character input

Okay, most of us won't use this feature either, but it's still pretty cool. After opening an input window, users can draw sketch Chinese characters on their trackpads and then select from a list of possibilities. It's as good a reason as any to start learning.

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NEXT PAGE: What's new in Windows 7

  1. We look at the innovations in both operating system
  2. What's new in Windows 7


Apple's Snow Leopard will be made publicly available on August 28 and will go hea-to-head with Microsoft's latest operating system - Windows 7. We've looked at the two operating system to find out just what are they're biggest new features.

Windows 7

Invisible windows

The answer, of sorts, to OSX's Exposé lets users turn all open windows into bare outlines by moving the mouse to the screen's bottom right corner. From there, shaking a window makes all others minimise, and shaking it again brings them back up.

A related window-management feature lets you quickly size windows to half the screen, allowing for side-by-side comparisons.

Jump Lists

It's no longer necessary to hunt through a folder of recent documents to pick up work where you left off. By right-clicking icons Windows 7's new dock (a feature cribbed from OSX), users can jump to recent documents or perform common tasks, such as resuming an old playlist in Windows Media Player.

Internet access to home media

Got two computers, or a friend who wants to look at photos from your last get-together? Clicking a button within Windows Media Player opens up photos, videos, and music for streaming to other PCs. No party will ever be safe again from your weird musical tastes.

Touch friendly

Should the touchscreen craze finally take off, Windows 7 will be ready with a mode that's tailor made for tablets. Start menu and taskbar icons are larger, and web browsing can be done with a finger. Multitouch is also supported, with pinch and twist gestures for zooming and rotating.

HomeGroup

Sharing content between networked computers is nothing new, but Windows 7 makes it easier with HomeGroup. The feature lets any new computer joining your home network link up to existing ones, allowing for file transfers. Printers are also shared automatically, so no one has to be kicked off the master computer to print a document.

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See also: Windows 7 Family Pack to cost £150 in UK

  1. We look at the innovations in both operating system
  2. What's new in Windows 7