Four things Windows 7 can learn from Mac OS X

Windows 7 is clearly Microsoft's best operating system yet. But it's far from perfect. Here are four ways Microsoft can improve it by "borrowing" features from Mac OS X.

Use Expose for window handling

Windows 7 introduces some nifty new window handling features, such as Aero Peek, but it doesn't go nearly far enough. It should borrow from Mac OS X's Expose, which lets you do things like see all of your open windows neatly displayed with a single keystroke, display open windows as thumbnails, and so on. It's more than just eye candy --- it improves productivity as well.

Replace the Control Panel with System Preferences

The Mac's System Preferences feature is a model of simplicity. It organizes all of the operating system's features into a handful of icons, organized by category, that gives you easy access to customization. The Control Panel is a far messier piece of work. Windows 7 should simplify the way you customize it and use an organizational tool like the Mac OS X's System Preferences in place of the Control Panel.

Ship better built-in applications

Mac OS X ships with some very good applications that would be worth buying on their own right, such as iPhoto, iMovie, and iWeb. Microsoft is moving in the exact opposite direction with Windows 7 --- it's stripping out most applications, so that even Windows Mail won't be part of the operating system any longer. That's the wrong direction. Microsoft should instead beef up the applications that come as part of Windows.

Use Mouse Gestures

Windows 7 will have some touch-enabled features, including rudimentary touchpad gestures. But it should go whole hog and use far more. On my Macbook Air, for example, I can scroll through documents, right-click, go forward and backward in my browser and more without lifting my hands from the touchpad. I'd like to be able to do the same thing in Windows 7.

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