Usability btw Aqua and Luna(?)

"If I compare Aqua to Windows XP, ignoring what's under the hood, I tend to think XP is ahead of the Aqua interface in terms of usability," says Marion Buchenau, a senior designer with San Francisco industrial design firm Smart Design.
So XP is more user friendly than Auqa?

What's your thought?


MacLuv and the rest of the friends I have made in here... I think the older Mac users have come a long way to discuss Win OS issues and WIN PC Hardware for the longest time. And I have seen more Mac users bash PCs less and learn to look at them and appreciate some of the goodness that is in them to appreciate them as a platform, though some of us hardcore loyal fans will always be standing on Apple's side when push comes to shove in a flame war. :D

There are things I like about Wintel machines and there are more things I like about Mac and there also things I hate about OS X because I am a very fast worker. And OS X is slowing me down. But unlike OS 9 era, when I get to work too fast, I get major crashes, all I get in OS X is a spinning rainbow ball and after that process is done, I continue again (lots of nail biting at times though, but I come out unscathed).

Thanks for giving me so much insight into both Wintel and Mac OS, everyone here, and I do hope that we move on to learn more about each platform instead of going into war.

Maybe I feeling a little sentimental with the rain pattering on my window at this moment, but I am glad I am part of the community in this forums and I have learnt lots and made lots of friends.

Thanks. And let's learn and grow and stop many of those PC bashing things we do in the past. We have our preferences, and let's put that aside.

I have grown to be more knowledgable on both platforms since.


OS X Supreme Being
I've been a longtime Mac user since my start in Graphic Design back in the early 90's. I've purchased (on average) a new, Pro Mac every year since 1994. Actually, it's probably more than that (what can I say, I like to keep my machines new, it's a curse...).

Since 1999 I have been forced into using PCs at my day job (I'm a web designer). Back in 99 it was on NT4. While NT4 didn't have anything on the Mac in terms of interface and usability, it did have a solid foundation and it was rock solid, something that OS 9 wasn't.

When Windows2000 came out, I deemed it good enough to justify putting together a franken PC and using a Wintel box to get some work done that couldn't be done on the Mac.

I've just bought my first "real" PC, meaning, a PC that I actually built with the intention of it being a serious workstation, not just a helper machine to my Mac (which is now a QS 800 DP).

I've now had a month with XP, and while I still prefer most of OS X to it, it does narrow the usability gap, and does some things right that the Mac does wrong.

XP's low level system has a huge leg up on OS X in maturity. Simply put, in XP, I NEVER get an hourglass spinning when doing mundane tasks like navigating through the system. Keep in mind my XP machine has 512MB of RAM, whereas my G4 has 1.5GB, and is still plagued by random spinning cursor of death outbreaks.

Lightwave runs much better on the PC (again, with 1/3rd the RAM and a much weaker GPU than the G4).

However, OS X is still a heck of a lot easier to use than XP. The iApps trounce anything MS includes with XP, or is available in commercially for that matter.

As MacLuv states, XPs help system is better than OS Xs (why is OS X's help system SO slow?). But of course, under OS X, you shouldn't need to use the help section that much, because it is easier to use.

OS X is designed to be intuitive and logical. XP is completely illogical, but provides built in Wizards that simplify the tasks as best they can.

Another thing that completely IRKs me about XP (and just about every Windows flavor) is that there is no enforcement of common key commands for repeated tasks. Sure, most apps use CNTRL X, C, and V for cut, copy and paste. But what about CNTRL W for close window? Hell, even Microsoft can't standardize this within it's own apps (Outlook still doesn't recognize it).

Bottom line, both machines are nothing more than tools. The Mac isn't always the best tool for every job, ditto for the PC. I'm glad I was finally able to quell the RDF, put away the koolaid, and think CLEARLY and see that true nirvanna is a mixed environment.

Heck, I might even get me a Linux box...


Apple seeder
Well. i admit.. i haven't used XP so much..but i have to say... i really do not believe XP is more friendly than X....not because i am ahuge Apple fan...but becauseof facts..

XP and X are very similar...but XP tent to be more intrusive than Aqua.

XP menus are far too big...yes you can see better...but too intrusive..

The remarkably useful..not only it lunches apps and minimize icons (like the task bar in XP) but it allows you to see the progress of your Toast and Photoshop bplug ins...and it enables also live clock and information on the dock from the has a Zoom effect that XP lacks of... and you can get rid of it hiding it...without loosing so much...while if you hide the taskbar in XP pretty much lost all your control.

Navigation...well... Apple had a lot to learn from Windows... a back and forward butto are very appreciated....and now.. i do not consider XP better than X ...we have those 2 spring loaded folders plus 3 way of viewing the content.. we can not chose the size...we can choiose where we want the text...and we can have additioonal info on the content without opening the folder.

As for Apple being the computer for the rest of us...well it still someone pointed...UNIX is VERY very hard to digest...
Well...think about re using it everyday..without even noticing...well that is PRETTY amazing...everyone even the common user now can use UNIX....something that everyone would have ever dreamed...Apple made it possible...of gonna take a little time for us to get used to the new features and for the regular user to get used to the a stepo that even Windows users will make one day or another...and we will be ahead of time...
Apple did not used an OS already made and modified it...the completely changed the way that OS worked..BSD was for the GEEKS only till 2 years ago..and probably the most common UNIX ever used.

XP has some good features... Apple has to learn from it...and make it even better... there is no perfect os...

My final Judgement... we re all different people...we all need different things from an OS and especially ...the gui..we have different tastes... i personally hate blue and green together andiask can that be...friendly??? but some people like it...i respect them for that... but i can GRAPHIC designer would like to use that GUI while DESIGNING...something you can do using AQUA.

May be the Luna GUI is better for something else....what .. i honestly don't know... but some people probably do.


As a support engineer, I cannot give you a fair estimation of either WindowsXP or Mac OS X usability. Except that as far as support goes, Windows XP really did a nice job of moving things around and under several layers, just as I got used to Windows 2000. One thing I don't like about OS X is setting up printers. They buried that one just like they did with the control panels on XP. The Chooser was a lot easier to get to and set up printers than the Print Center. And what the heck came over Microsoft to hide My Computer on XP? Heck at least OS X shows all drives on the desktop. Go ahead and put a USB hard drive or Firewire drive onto an XP system and you'll be perplexed if it really is there. As a Solaris and FreeBSD user, OS X is a far more refined GUI-based UNIX. Several things are different, such as standard locations of files like /etc/passwd or /etc/group. This makes the use of NetInfo mandantory. Things like dragging a folder onto a command line to have its path typed before your eyes is way cool. WindowsNT/2000 has been doing this for years but cd'ing into a directory on another drive still leaves you in the same drive brings chuckles to most UNIX geeks. And speaking of Unix geeks, I found O'Reilly's book "Mac OS X for Unix Geeks" is absolutely indespensible.

Oops, back to user friendliness, another thing I would improve is the Help system. XP's help system is about 5 years ahead of OS X and tons faster. Apple should concentrate on that little item for their next release, big time. As for getting to an application and starting it, I think it's a toss up. For everything, XP makes you click on the Start button and then Programs to see what is there. Of course they only show you what you've used the most and I've had several (dozen) users call me in a panic that they lost all of their applications until you show them that clicking on the arrows will show all of them. That's not greatly intuitive but then Mac OS X makes you first click on the Finder icon, then do a new window under the file menu, and then click on the Applications button. Or double click on the disk, then double click on the Applications icon. Again not very intuitive. I know you'll chuckle when you hear this, but I've had more than one Windows user tell me they don't know where to go on a Mac or how to "start" something. If I were Apple I would probably stick the Applications button right in the Dock. And here's a hint to Apple: if a user installed an Application you think he might want to use it? I believe, if it were me, I would open the Applications window on the Finder with the just installed Application sitting right there. Or maybe just ask if they want a copy of the app in the Dock. Of course once an application is open, Mac OS X is much easier to deal with it via the Dock. I can take a document and drag it right onto an app icon in the Dock to start it up (if I don't want to use the default application). All I get is an error message on XP that says something about not being able to drag a document onto the Taskbar but you have to drag it into an open window. My scorecard so far is:

Printing: XP - Apple?!?!? I hate to tell you this but we seem to have lost about 1,500 printers.
Help System: XP - OS X Users, you might want to budget a couple of books along with that new computer.
Application Launch: XP
Application Installation: OS X - close. I still encounter "DLL hell" and older Apps leaving too much behind on XP.
Existing Documents: Tie
System Admininstration: OS X - This is still easy; when something misbehaves delete its preferences.
Dock/Taskbar usability: OS X - not even close, 7 years and they made the taskbar worse. When Microsoft gets rid of their random Taskbar mover we'll talk.
Networking: OS X - I know I didn't talk about this but all the tools are there and they work correctly.
Existing/legacy tech setup: XP - and not by much. A lot of the drivers for older technology (if they exist) are buggy.
New technology setup: OS X - except for monitors.


Staff member
Usability is a difficult thing to measure. Is an operating system targetted at the first time user, the business user, the professional coder, a graphics artist or a dork?

Windows XP Professional, for example, should be targetted at the professional business user. But then why does it tell him/her to go chatting and using other cool new media features all the time? Why does it urge the user to do this and that? Why doesn't it assume that the user knows what he/she does? Those features might be okay for first time home users, but even those are bound to get angry after some time.

Mac OS X has differentiated targetted user groups from the beginning. Apple is clearly aiming at first time users, moms (no offence meant) and 'PC-haters' with the iMac and the iBook. Those are served quite well with how easily they get going. The second targetted group are design people (graphics design). Those are a bit harder to please, as they have a hard time letting go of OS 9 for various reasons. We _have_ to admit that coming from OS 9, X has a definite learning curve. Same for audio, video and 3D professionals.

Someone mentioned that Windows XP has a better help system. I must say that I never found it very useful. Neither on Mac or on XP. But more importantly, Mac OS X is much more cleanly laid out in what you find where than Windows XP. There are so many inconsistencies in Windows XP that even a long-time computer user (whatever system he/she prefers) will have to find his way around. For example, MS introduced Windows 95 and put network settings to the properties of 'Network Environment' (on the desktop). With Windows 2000, the settings got better. With Windows XP, they tried to simplify a good properties-system with wizards and, mainly, more steps to the same goal. Bad, bad, bad. The OS also has VERY bad manners. For example, it tells you that your network cable has been disconnected. Cool. But most of the time that it tells you that, it's simply not true. Just today I had three calls from users that went like this... User: "Windows tells me I have disconnected my network cable, but I haven't. I'm sure I haven't." I: "Well, sometimes Windows thinks you have, although you haven't. Try deactivating and reactivating the network connection." User: "Okay. Still the same." I: "What exactly have you done just now?" User: "I have taken the cable out of the network card and put it back in." I: "No, no, I meant with the contextual menu. Right-click on the connection..." User: "But Windows said there's something wrong with the cable..." You see? Windows XP is trying to push the user into hardware-related problem thinking. But most of the time, the issue is software related.

Those are the usability issues I have to fight. And I can plainly claim that usability-wise, Apple has done a very good job with Mac OS X 10.2, while Microsoft has produced the usual mix of new features, fixing some that needn't be fixed and making some things worse.

Col. Sanders

Bah...not looking under the hood, and the frequent crashes it gives me, Win XP does not appeal to me. Aqua is so much simpler and professional. Those green and blue of XP, give me nightmares. I use both OSes at almost equal amounts.


Usability & WordPress fan
I just wish Apple had thought before making silly traffic light widgets with no other visual cues apart from the color. And as any user interface expert (and Apple's own Human Interface Guidelines) will tell you, colour alone is not enough! All UI elements should be obvious without colour (like the platinum widgets), and THEN perhaps color can be added to emphasize the design.
Well, thank God for Max Rudberg's Rhapsodized theme! :D


Just thought I'd put in my two cents as well...

I use Windows XP (Professional) at work on Dell hardware because I have no option of using a Mac, basically, and I know I will have my pro-Mac bias but I try to keep an open mind about XP.

I've had XP lock up on me a few times (needing to physically switch off the computer), but in general it has been very stable. With OS X running on a QuickSilver G4, I have never had a kernel panic, but there have probably been a similar number (i.e. rare) of occurrences over a similar period of time where it seems to have not been responding and I rebooted in the end. However, I'd expect in those instances that if I had another computer connected with through ssh, I would have been able to kill offending processes and kick start OS X again without having to reboot (?).

Windows XP is not that bad for me, but I greatly prefer OS X. The Unix core really makes a big difference to me and opens up all sorts of possibilities to users, such as the installation of Unix/X11 programs. I often wondered about the relative arguments involved in the old BeOS vs. NeXT debate but, without wanting to start a different topic, I think opening up the Mac to the Unix world and all its existing software was actually a major bonus for Mac users. In my case, this makes OS X much more "usable," particularly as I can bring work home from Unix workstations in the office and communicate with them easily from home too.

In terms of the GUI, I do prefer Aqua, but that is perhaps a matter of opinion. I do not find the changes to the taskbar in XP (eg grouping of windows) to be a great improvement. One example is being able to move items around in the Dock is a good idea, which is something you can't do with the Windows XP taskbar to my knowledge. The iApps are also very good and I certainly use iTunes very frequently.

I'm also slightly perplexed when some people (not necessarily on this forum!) say OS X inhibits the user and XP doesn't. For instance, I am the administrator for this XP machine and when I first started it up, it hid the hard drive from me and would only allow access to "My Documents!" I also find the numerous assistants rather intrusive, though I can systematically start switching things off. To me, Aqua feels more friendly, while Luna feels a bit patronizing.

We will all have different definitions of usability and will have different opinions on what is important, so this is a difficult thing to nail down. In short, my opinion is that the Unix core really empowers Mac users and that Aqua is, overall, a more pleasant experience than Luna. Anyway, that's enough rambling for now, as I've been up early this morning and my brain has not yet started working! More factual/useful posts may follow some other time!



official breaker of macs.
i would just like to say that this is the most amount of text in a thread i've seen in a long time.

okay, as you were.


Apple seeder
First i want to reply to this sentence...:

And as any user interface expert (and Apple's own Human Interface Guidelines) will tell you, colour alone is not enough! All UI elements should be obvious without colour (like the platinum widgets), and THEN perhaps color can be added to emphasize the design.

Well that is what Apple didi...if you hover on the "silly traffic lights" you will see SIGNS coming out...that is more than a clue to me... even if you use the gray one..and the 3 buttons looks the same....hovering you ll still SEE the same thing...pretty obvious to me


And quite frankly, who the hell wants to use UNIX? Once upon a time we laughed at DOS, and now I find myself opening up a Terminal window again.

Well ... no one really wanted UNIX...but everyone wanted more APPS...the UNIX side gave us many name one... MAYA .....maya has been waiting for Apple to do something likre OS X for ages...even was avaiable for os have you used the one on X?

PLus...DOS is not a UNIX operating system.... saying that DOS and UNIX are similar only because they have a similiar "interface" is like saying that an German and a Japanese are the same cause they speak a foreign language from the one you are used to...

I did not ask for UNIX... i Have it..and i am happy aboutit...cause i got more apps more support ....and more important..we gained a lot of users....that means to me...a bigger community...more places to find softwares (LEGAL shareware demo and freeware) and more people to chat with about my mac and my OS, more way to solve problems....and more way to play online and have some fun..

OH and of course... i do not have a crashing problem every hour.... that is what UNIX is for me.... not enought for you? well OS 9 is still avaiable..may be next release of X wuill be better for you.....i honestly hope for you...

NO one asked for USB and Firewire...but we re all glad they re one asked for dual CPU...but they are here and w re happy about one asked about UNIX...but many many many of us are happy about it..

You do not need to open the terminal....if you because you are taking advantage of the UNIX side you did not ask for....but you re glad it's there...cause it let you do something you are trying to ;)


Originally posted by MacLuv
The dock has definately been the subject of much debate all over the web. As some may know I felt I had to install ASM just to get some work done. I'm now using the dock, but I don't like the responsiveness at all. If everything is open, it becomes a bit sluggish.
I have to say I haven't noticed any sluggish Dock behavior before. I agree the Dock has been quite a contentious issue! I think it can possibly be improved, but overall I am happy with it. I don't tend to minimize windows though, I prefer to Hide applications instead. The difficulty is that if Apple were to start adding features to it, such as putting tabs on the Dock to order things by category for instance, it would become more complex and unwieldy, which would defeat the object. It's a tricky area...

Well, I don't like SPAM or springloaded folders. Folder navigation is faster through hotkeys, not waiting for springloaded folders to open. Oh yeah, have you ever "missed" the location you were trying to put a springloaded folder and had to start over?
I've never found spring-loaded folders to be too slow, but then I set them to maximum speed. Also, if I "miss" when opening folders, I can usually drag the file one level up again to only close one window. Admittedly this does not always work smoothly, and I take your point; perhaps the windows should open more spread out on screen?

Also, there are several navigation methods available, such as the column view, typing a path in a text field, one could create a quick link to a folder in the tool bar of windows by dragging the folder there, or a folder can be dragged to the Dock too.

I really love the ability to see more information about the folders without opening an info file.
Can you not do this with 10.2, or have I misunderstood?

But right now OS X implementation of the view preferences is terrible, as we've discovered in the "ALL WINDOWS" thread. It's impossble to implement a global change to your folders.
I definitely agree with you! Wasn't this also the case with OS 8.5, and then 8.5.1 or 8.6 fixed this? There seems to be a historical precedent!


Apple has in no way or form made it "easier" for the common person to use Unix. I understand what you're trying to say, but let's stay on target here. The Darwin core of our new operating system has presented us with a system not unlike XP in that the features we were so accustomed to in 7-9 are now moot. Aqua GUI looks similar to our old system, and some of the new features are definately a step in the right direction. But there's still that Darwin core to contend with. For example, rename your "music" folder to "bob" or move it to a new location and suddenly iTunes doesn't know where your music is anymore.

And quite frankly, who the hell wants to use UNIX? Once upon a time we laughed at DOS, and now I find myself opening up a Terminal window again. What's the point of using Apple products anymore if suddenly we're tinkering with the frickin' terminal? I'm a geek by default, so I don't mind so much, but try to tell my in-laws at 52 who barely understand Macs at all that they might have to configure a chmod setting and watch the lights go out.
Well, I partly disagree here. I understand what you are saying about paths causing a few headaches at times, fair enough. I would not compare Unix to DOS though. Unix is vastly superior and more flexible. I'm quite happy OS X is built on Unix because it means we have a very stable and very powerful OS running underneath our GUI, which power users can access but which novice users are not forced to touch. We also inherit other applications from the Unix world, and this is a good thing at a time when Linux has been on the rise too. I understand that permissions perhaps need dealing with from time to time, but I see these as bugs which are being ironed out by Apple; for example, I haven't yet had to change file permissions when normally working within Aqua but I acknowledge that other have encountered such problems. I would argue that Apple has indeed made Unix "easy" for the masses, but that is coming from my experiences of having used (to varying degrees!) Solaris and IRIX systems.

I hope all of the above is taken in its intended (i.e. good natured :) ) form by all readers! I'm interested in discussing the relative usability of OS X, including both its pros and cons; that is, I'm interested in the discussion, I'm not out to bash anyone else's opinions!



Staff member
Okay, this went a bit off-topic, I guess. :)

The Terminal, CUPS, the whole UNIX layer is well hidden in Mac OS X. Apple has finally delivered what many have tried: A user-friendly UNIX. If you go back in history and look at what other companies, organisations or the Open Source movement have tried (and what they've achieved), you'll see that it's quite a big task.

There was _one_ company before Apple that actually did it. And it was Steve Jobs' NeXT.

You don't have to learn the Terminal to use Mac OS X professionally as a graphics designer, a audio or video pro. There's no reason to - unless you want to (which many people do).

Yes, there ARE interface issues with Mac OS X. And they're being solved. It's not like it was Apple's _strategy_ to have icons in the Finder lose their masks sometimes. It's a bug. It will be fixed.

On the other hand, there are a lot more inconsistencies in Windows. More than ever in fact in Windows XP. The saddest thing about Windows is that people have been using it for such a long time that the worst UI failures have already been adopted by the general community. Fixing them now (and MS is on the way of fixing some of them) is only making things worse. People have come to EXPECT some buttons in button bars to behave like menus (and effectively doubling some menus from the menubar).

There are other examples. For instance, MS introduced movable and resizable button bars in IE and Office for Windows. The *menu* is one of those button bars. A user can hide the menu with buttons. Try to explain a user to go to 'Extras' and then 'Internet Options' if he has hidden part of his menu with the location bar? Well, what's MS' solution? They FIX the locations of those bars and make the user find out how to unlock the setting!

Many, many others can be found in those galleries of interface hell. Let me post a link here: