Windows 10 vs OS X: What you need to know

Windows 10 is a better operating system than Windows 8.1 but it’s still not as stable as it should be. Particularly when compared to Apple’s OS X.

I use Windows 10 and OS X interchangeably on a variety of new PC laptops and MacBooks. While I’m not going to make a blanket claim that one operating system is better than the other, I will say that OS X, in my experience, is the more stable of the two.

Arguably, Apple is better able to control the operating environment because it designs both the hardware and software. That said, here are a few (recent) Windows 10 pet peeves that can make it a more challenging OS to use day to day compared to OS X. Note that "Windows" in the context of this article does not necessarily imply Microsoft, as software issues can be attributed to software created by third-party software developers, the PC maker, or Microsoft.

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Windows System hangs: a host of small annoyances like system slowdowns due to seemingly trivial software issues are nothing new to Windows users. One example of a quirk that’s been particularly irksome for me is a right-click freeze. This happened on two late-model (new) PCs from two different top-tier PC makers – which means it’s a Windows problem, not a hardware problem. In short, if I right-clicked on the Windows desktop, I would get the spinning “busy” blue circle. This had the (very annoying) effect of hanging – i.e., slowing down – everything. It was a show-stopper for me. After some research, I solved this by diving into the Windows Registry (on both laptops) and making changes. But that’s not something the average user will do.

Windows “Processes” weirdness: there are just too many examples to even begin to cover them all here. So, I’ll focus on a very recent one that shows how a rogue process can cripple your system. One afternoon, all of the browsers I had open (Google Chrome, Firefox, and the Microsoft Edge browser) suddenly stopped loading pages. After being completely befuddled for a couple of hours, I decided to glance at the Windows 10 Task Manager under the “Processes” tab - I noticed that the CPU usage was maxing out – bouncing around between 98 percent and 100 percent, without falling back down into normal ranges. This is a red flag if you’re doing relatively undemanding tasks. I solved it by isolating the problem process and disabling it. This immediately got the CPU percentage back to normal levels and all Web pages began loading normally. But it was time consuming to fix. And is your average user going to be able to figure something like this out? I wonder.

Microsoft Edge browser: while I was optimistic at first about the Edge browser, it has not worn well for me. I’ve stopped (except on rare occasions) using it because it can't be used on other operating systems (just Windows 10) like Chrome and Firefox can. And its behavior on the two Windows laptops I use regularly is erratic. While all browsers can behave unpredictably, Edge is more prone to that behavior than other browsers.

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After contacting Microsoft about the problems cited above, I was put in touch with a Microsoft support specialist, who offered suggested fixes. Because I had already fixed two of the issues mentioned above on my own, I focused on the Edge browser. The specialist took control of my computer for about 30 minutes and tweaked some settings and erased unnecessary temporary files, among other things. I won't know if his changes helped until I use Edge on a regular basis.

And OS X? While it’s not flawless, I just spent more than a month using a new MacBook, pretty much all day every day. It was a relatively problem-free experience compared to Windows 10. Ironically, the only consistent, thorny problem I had on OS X was with Microsoft’s OneDrive (Microsoft’s file hosting service) for OS X. (I also have had show-stopping problems with OneDrive on Windows 10 -- but I won't go into that here.)

Let me repeat, OS X is not flawless –  it has its own gotchas as any operating environment does. And Windows is indispensable for running many critical business applications – not to mention gaming. But, for me, reliability is really important, if not paramount. And in that department OS X is the clear winner.

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As a postscript, my experience obviously does not apply to everyone. And I plan to revisit the Windows 10 vs. OS X topic again. As, I said, this is not intended as a blanket statement about OS X's across-the-board superiority, just one aspect based on my own experience.