Computing – OS

8/23/2012 4:17:28 AM

Google Chrome OS

Price: free

Chrome is built around the thing you use most: the web browser. Because it’s limited to wed apps, it’s more for docs and email than professional design work – but it stores your stuff in the cloud, so files are accessible from anywhere.

Description: Google Chrome OS

Google Chrome OS

Speedy start-up

Google’s minimalist architecture makes Chrome fast out of the blacks. Today’s Chromebooks can boot up in under ten seconds, but ‘Coreboot’ tech could soon get this down to five or even less.

Appy days

The Chrome Web Store offers a fine array of free apps for you to download. Handily, Google has recently added a section dedicated to offline apps, so ‘no internet’ doesn’t have to mean ‘no fun’

Safe and sound

Since it stores so little locally, anyone who nicks a Chrome computer isn’t going to get much in the way of personal details. Unfortunately, if your broadband goes down, you won’t be able to access them either.

Special skill – Aura

The once painfully basic Chrome OS now looks more like a Windows and Mac rival thanks to this new UI and window manager. Aura brings visual treats such as a task bar and shortcuts, while a new status area has arrived for Android-style notifications.

Pros: Speedy; decent suite of apps

Cons: Power limited by web apps

Apple Mac OS X Mountain Lion

Price: From $22

Every update makes the mighty OS X more like its mobile counterpart (and one big car closer to opening a zoo). Facebook and Twitter are now integrated, and iCloud ties all of its features together (not literally).

Description: Apple Mac OS X Mountain Lion

Apple Mac OS X Mountain Lion

Sending our an iMessage

Desktop Macs can now join conversations between iThings thanks to iMessage, which replaces iChat. It collates all of your conversations, and lets you switch to Facetime from within the app.

Play time

Another iOS staple, Game Center, has made the leap to OS X. It’ll let you indulge in gaming tussles with friends who are using an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch, an sledge them over in-game chat.

This is the news

Neatly tying together all of your alerts from Twitter, email clients and other third-party applications is Notification Center, which is activated by a ‘right-to-left’ swipe gesture on your trackpad. Lovely

Special skill – Power nap

Even when it’s in sleep mode a Mac running Mountain Lion will periodically fetch new emails, download pics to your Photostream, sync calendars, suck down software ypdates and back itself up, all without a peep. If only our power naps were this productive.

Pros: Simple, powerful, affordable

Cons: Only available for Macs

Microsoft Windows 8

Price: From $23

Windows 8 is the most significant update to the world’s most popular operating system since 1995, and it’s been remade from the most basic level. Here’s why it’ll consign Windows Vista to the recycle bin…

Description: Microsoft Windows 8

Microsoft Windows 8

It’s brand new…

Windows 8 is designed for tablets and Ultrabooks – touchy, swipey and live-widgets, with a tile-based, ‘Metro’ Start menu and an emphasis on saving battery power and delivering apps.

…but still familiar

Behind that you’ll find a more familiar desktop which allows you to install your existing software (unless you’re running Windows RT) and so make working a reality rather than an exercise in futility.

It’s cheap to upgrade

Buy a Windows 7 PC or laptop before 31 January 2013 and you’ll be able to upgrade it to Windows 8 Pro for $24… so you needn’t postpone buying that Ultrabook until after Win 8’s October launch.

Special skill – Windows to go

A full version of Win 8 that resides on a USB stick, Plug it into any PC, reboot and you can sign in as if you’re working on your machine. It uses all the PC’s hardware apart from its hard drives, so even if you plug it into someone’s virus-riddled machine it’ll come out clean.

Pros: Tons of apps; touch-optimized

Cons: Dual personalities

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