MACS V PCS
Computer wars ramp up
PREPARE your computer: The software war is about to begin.
In one corner, Apple is poised to launch a Mountain Lion on Mac users for just $ 20.99.
In the other corner, long- time rival Microsoft is in the final stages of testing Windows 8, which it will deliver for $ 39.99.
But there’s much more at stake than an upgrade fee.
Both major software releases are designed to lock users into one system over the other, fuelling the Mac v PC battle, and also to boost flagging computer sales.
Users will have a big learning curve to climb, however, as the Windows Start button and even close boxes will be casualties in this war.
Australian computer buyers appear to have been delaying purchases before the new software, as computer sales dropped 12 per cent in the first three months of the year, says research firm IDC.
IDC’s Amy Cheah says economic uncertainty, high interest rates and an end to ‘‘ aggressive’’ marketing of the past year also played a part in the sales drop.
But figures show that Apple maintained its strong share in the Australian market, claiming 14 per cent of sales and second only to Hewlett Packard with a 19 per cent share.
Apple may gain another boost when it releases its Mountain Lion software later this month, with its final ‘‘ golden master’’ edition already released to developers.
Microsoft is also putting the finishing touches on its software. Windows 8 is now in its final stages of beta testing and is expected to be released to manufacturers next month and to the public in October.
Microsoft’s new software is a complete Windows overhaul that will look and work differently.
The home screen will now feature a Metro layout that offers program shortcuts inside coloured tiles, a main menu will appear from the right side of the screen, applications can be
Mac launches its new computer upgrade this month while PC users will have to wait, writes
Jennifer Dudley- Nicholson
closed by sliding a finger down the touchpad, and users can flick through open programs with more touchpad gestures.
Windows 8 will work much the same on a computer screen as it does on the upcoming Windows tablets; a design Microsoft group project manager Anantha Kancherla says will unify mobile and desktop computing.
He admits the new design will present a learning curve for older users, but ‘‘ within three days of using it you’ll be proficient’’.
Ovum chief telecoms analyst Jan Dawson says the disappearance of Windows’ mainstays, including the Start button and close boxes, could require more effort from users than Microsoft estimates.
‘‘ There are other things to adapt to also, like how do you switch from one program to another?’’ he says.
‘‘ There are standard shortcuts that will no longer work and the new ones are not obvious. There will be a big learning curve and that may turn off some users.’’
Regardless, Dawson says Microsoft’s new operating system should appeal to new users and those more accustomed to using tablets, and the rest of the computing population may simply wait to read reviews of the final products.
‘‘ It’s going to be a fresh version of Windows and they always sell pretty well,’’ he says.
‘‘ It just will be a case of whether it overtakes Windows 7 rapidly or not.’’