Apple and Microsoft are both getting ready to release a new operating system. When the last Windows OS came out many people were shocked at how… well, Mac like it was. Everyone from popular technology bloggers to my six-year-old niece knew that Windows was trying to appeal to the hip kids by being like Apple, at least in its design aesthetic.

Now that a new set of operating systems are coming out of their respective companies people are beginning to wonder exactly how similar the two will be. Today, we are going to look at five critical known features that are similar in both, so that you can see what is coming down the technology lane.

Showdown of the Best Features

The App Stores

The App Store is nothing new to a Mac fan, though it is getting several upgrades in the new version. The App Store is good for giving users access to an unprecedented amount of software without wondering who they have to buy from. Windows will be creating its own built-in version of the App Store in Windows 8 that will allow for app installation. That begs two questions for the majority of end users, who I am sure are burning to find out if this system will make life easier or follow in the footsteps of the Zune.

First, will Microsoft be as careful in vetting their Apps as Apple has been? Given that the number of viruses, and other malicious code, out there for Windows is higher than for Mac, this will be essential for the success of the store. The second question is payment. Given the recent global fiscal issues, many people may not be happy with the idea of giving unfettered app buying access to the credit card to younger users or irresponsible spouses.

One of the great things about the App Store, from a fiscal point of view, is when the iTunes card runs out, your kids are cut off. Unless Windows is coming out with a global network of gift cards this one could get tricky quickly.

The Touch Screen

The newest iteration of OS X will be ready to support full-screen multi-touch and gestures. The gestures are built into the current OS X but the newer OS X will add onto that for touchscreen monitors. In Microsoft terms, this will be called the Windows 8 Metro interface. The only thing that we know so far about the Windows 8 Metro interface is that it is getting mixed reviews, very mixed reviews.

When the word disjointed is being bandied about early adopters beware. You may run into some serious snags depending on your setup and how early into the process you get the new OS. While it may be funny to watch early adopters flounder, it’s not so funny when it happens to you. How well Microsoft deals with the user feedback will determine how well the touch screen feature works in Windows 8.

The LaunchPad

The Launch Pad feature allows you to, in the current version, to look at all of your software applications at once. The Launch Pad will become a more prominent feature in the new OS X, and it looks like Windows will get getting its own version as well.

Their shortcut to apps will be similar not to Mac, but to the existing line of Windows mobile devices, which makes good sense if you are trying to keep your brand intact across multiple devices. The Windows version is, at the current moment, not been gifted with an official name.

The Cloud(s)

Both of the services will be offering Cloud storage services, and while Apple will have the leg up since the iCloud is already up and running for many users, where Windows will have to catch up with the crowd in order to offer this to their end users. Let’s be honest since Windows has a lot more users and a lot more business users the amount of cloud that they are going to have to offer one amazing service if they are going to stack up. Microsoft has the Skydrive which is now integrated with Windows 8. They are also going to have to manage it very well or they will have a security nightmare on their hands.

The Windows 8 Metro interface looks a lot like the tiles on a current Windows phone, the social media tiles. This system will be great, if you have limited cloud need then you will love it. If not you will be frustrated quickly, take a look. Both services are set to have a fee, but it has not been finalized at this time. We’ll keep you update about this.

The Apps

Both of the systems will have a suite of built-in apps in the final version. Apps for Windows 8 will include mobile style version of a lot of the Windows software that you already know and love such as Windows Messenger, MSN, Windows Media Player, Bing, etc… There is also a sexy looking Mail app that is aptly named Mail, and yes Mac Users will recognize that name from their e-mail application. Other things in the “Apps” section will include things such as MS office. On the whole, the Microsoft version feels kinda cheesy.

But given the fact that Windows has a legion of developers waiting to cash in on the App Store craze on the new OS, we can expect to see some amazing apps, pretty soon.

Final Thoughts

So, will the new operating systems be similar? Yes, in a lot of ways, but hopefully they will each have a unique look and feel that makes the most of their respective strengths. This isn’t about which one is better, it is about which one is better for your needs as an end-user.

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