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Grow Your Business Technology

OS X Yosemite vs. Windows 8.1: Which Is Better for Business?

OS X Yosemite vs. Windows 8.1: Which Is Better for Business?
Apple's new operating system update is packed with productivity-boosting features. / Credit: Microsoft/Apple

Apple's new operating system update is packed with productivity-boosting features. Dubbed OS X Yosemite, the update includes a revamped notification center, a new way to search from the desktop, and new options to connect your iPhone or iPad to your desktop computer. But how does the new version of OS X stack up to Windows 8.1? Read on to see how the new and updated features in OSX Yosemite compare to the latest release for Microsoft's desktop operating system.

OS X Yosemite: One of the best new additions to OS X Yosemite is a slew of features that help your MacBook or iMac work together with any iPhone or iPad. That includes the ability to take an incoming phone call from your Mac computer – even when your iPhone is charging in another room. That's because your computer can now leverage your iPhone connection and use your computer's microphone and speaker to act as a phone. When you receive an incoming call, you'll get an alert right on your desktop, and can answer it with one click. You can also place outgoing calls.

And there's a second new way OS X can connect to your iPhone or iPad, thanks to a feature called Handoff. It lets you seamlessly send an in-progress document or email from your Mac to your mobile device – or vice versa – with a single tap. When you're at work on your desktop computer, just swipe up on your iOS device to beam your document over to your iPhone or iPad. And if you're tapping out an email on your mobile device, just click on the Handoff icon on your computer desktop to make the switch in the opposite direction.

Windows 8.1: There's nothing in Windows 8.1 that can directly match the functionality of Handoff -- but that doesn't mean there's no continuity between mobile Windows devices and desktop PCs. For starters, Windows tablets actually run on the full desktop version of Windows 8.1 and not a dedicated mobile OS like the iPhone or iPad. That means a Windows tablet can run the software you already use at your office desk, providing a continuity of workflow that iOS and OS X together can't quite match.

But Microsoft's smartphone OS, Windows Phone 8.1, is its own entity. Like iOS, it can only run dedicated mobile apps – and its library of apps can't quite match iOS in terms of breadth or overall quality. There's no way to replicate the functionality of Handoff on Windows Phone either, but you can get close with OneDrive, Microsoft's cloud storage platform. Any document you save on your Windows Phone will automatically be synced across all your devices, so you can quickly access it in the OneDrive folder on your PC.

OS X: OS X also packs a revamped Notification Center, giving you a better view of your email and iMessage alerts, calendar notifications and more. The biggest addition is a new "Today" view that lets you see your pending appointments, weather and stock market updates for the day. Also new is the ability to add widgets to the Notification Center, including reminders, social networking alerts and more. That means the Notification Center is better at putting everything you need to know in a single spot so you can view it all at a glance.

Windows 8.1: Microsoft's OS doesn't have a dedicated notification center, but Live Tiles on the Windows 8.1 Start menu provide much of the same functionality. The colorful Live Tiles are more than just shortcuts to your favorite apps; they update to provide real-time information about your messages and email, as well as weather, reminders and more – without the need to open the individual apps. For example, the day's forecast will appear on the Live Tile for most weather apps. Windows 8.1 also lets you put widgets – called "gadgets" – right on your desktop. Just rick click on the desktop and select "gadgets" to add a persistent calendar, calculator or news feed, for example.

OS X Yosemite: Apple is adding a totally revamped version of Spotlight, a handy feature in OS X that helps you find files, photos and information on the Web. Just click the magnifying glass icon at the top right-hand corner of the desktop to launch a new, bigger search bar in the center of your screen, then start typing to find files or apps. Typing the name of an app, such as the Numbers spreadsheet editor, will return the most recent documents viewed using that app. You can even find phone numbers, email addresses and appointment reminders by typing the name of a contact in your iCloud address book. Spotlight can also help you find information on the Web; just type in your search query to see popular search results from Wikipedia and other sources of information on the Web.

Windows 8.1: Search in Windows 8.1 is built right into the Start screen. To start searching, either click the Start button or hit the Windows key on your keyboard to launch the Start screen – then simply start typing to view files, documents, apps and system settings. You can also sort your search results by choosing a category from the sidebar. But the search function in Windows 8.1 can't totally match the functionality of Spotlight. For example, it can't search for contacts in your Windows Phone address book, and it can't deliver results from the Web.

OS X Yosemite: Apple's updated OS includes iCloud Drive, a new system for syncing your files and documents across your devices. It lets you easily back up your documents and files to the cloud via a simple drag-and-drop interface, then access them from anywhere. The feature is built right into the Finder in OS X Yosemite, so it's easy to drag files into your iCloud Drive folder, organize them with tags and even search for them using Spotlight. The iCloud Drive system builds upon Apple's existing iCloud platform, which already lets you sync your contacts, calendars, photos, music and more. It will launch for the Mac, iPhone, iPad and even Windows PCs with the forthcoming release of OS X Yosemite.

Windows 8.1: In terms of cloud storage, Apple is playing catchup with Microsoft. Windows 8.1 already features a fully integrated cloud service called OneDrive, which stands out thanks to its tight integration with Microsoft Office. Any document, presentation or spreadsheet you create in Office is automatically uploaded to your OneDrive account, so you can access it from any Web-connected device. OneDrive is also a handy system for backing up documents, and it even lets you roll back to a previously saved version of a document. It's built right into Windows Explorer; just click the OneDrive folder in the sidebar to view files stored in the cloud, or drag and drop new files to upload them.

Brett Nuckles

Brett Nuckles has been a working journalist since 2009. He got his start in local newspapers covering community news, local government, education and more before he joined the Business News Daily staff in 2013. He graduated from Ohio University, where he studied Journalism and English. Follow him on Twitter @BrettNuckles.

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