But unlike the ribbon in other apps, the one in File Explorer is hidden until you click or tap the corresponding menu. That's fine. The boneheaded part is that when the ribbon displays, it overlays part of your content window, obscuring whatever is at the top. In a file manager, that's especially problematic. Fortunately, you can turn off this autohide functionality to make File Explorer's ribbon work like all other apps' ribbons and stay affixed above the content area. By contrast, the Metro part of Windows 8 can be downright elegant in its simplicity, focus, and use of imagery, without distracting chrome such as window frames and menus.

It makes Windows 7 look dowdy and archaic.

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There are two ways to get app options that aren't in the app's screens, and they're easily reached through gestures. But if you -- like 99 percent of the planet -- use a mouse and keyboard, accessing the common search, sharing, and settings services called "charms" involves an awkward action. If you don't have a physical keyboard, such as for a tablet, there are some Metro features you simply can't use, such as searching for an app by typing its name in the Start screen, because there's no way to invoke the onscreen keyboard.

You really need a keyboard to use a Windows tablet. Despite its simplicity, the Metro environment can be befuddling; the Store app and Internet Explorer are difficult to navigate, for example, and easily let you run in circles. One reason for this: There's little apparent hierarchy in Metro apps, and you often have to use the application bar to navigate to specific functions rather than move laterally among them via the visible navigation controls.

It's a bit like being forced to walk through a maze when you actually want to get somewhere as directly as possible. The Windows Desktop part is the Windows 7 you know and probably love. The good news in Windows 8. Still, you can be popped into the Metro environment unexpectedly by double-clicking a file and finding it opens a Metro app instead of a traditional Windows one. Microsoft wants people to switch to Metro, so it has set the default core apps such as email and media players to be the Metro versions.

Also, the Start menu remains missing in Windows 8.

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Microsoft has brought back the Start button, but all it does is switch you between Metro and the Windows Desktop -- as if you pressed the Windows key. Clearly, Microsoft doesn't get why users are so frustrated. To get the handy Power User menu, you now right-click that Start button, or you can continue to use the Windows-X shortcut. Just as Metro works nicely via touch and poorly via traditional input methods, Windows Desktop works well via traditional input methods and poorly via touch -- Windows 8.

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Icons and menus are often too small to read on a tablet screen, as well as too hard to touch or tap reliably. Plus, touch equivalents for common actions such as right-clicking do not work reliably in the Windows Desktop. Ultimately, you're switching between two different computers that share a file system and a few core services, and each computer is optimized for a different set of input methods. For most users, Windows 8. Over the years, Apple has made OS X much more than an operating system. If you buy a new Mac, you also get the very capable iPhoto, GarageBand, and iMovie apps for media manipulation and creation.

For many users, these apps are all they need. Beyond the assortment of moderately to highly capable apps, OS X has exceptional support for human languages and for people with various kinds of disabilities.

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Windows 8 offers less than OS X across the board, partly because Microsoft wants people to buy or subscribe to its pricey Office suite, so tools such as WordPad and the Mail app in Metro provide only a subset of OS X's counterparts. You can of course pay extra for Microsoft Outlook in the Windows Desktop to get a full email client for Windows.

Some of the Metro apps in Windows 8.

For example, the Camera app now supports panoramic shooting and the Photos app allows for basic image manipulation such as cropping and color shifting, both like recent iOS and Android editions. Metro's Weather app is the most compelling of the Metro apps and OS X has no built-in equivalent , and the Sports app remains a nicely customizable gateway to your favorite sports content. Also new to Windows 8.

The new Calculator app is very much like OS X's ancient version. Microsoft seems to be throwing widgets into Metro to increase the list of features, rather than creating a suite of compelling apps. The battle between Windows and OS X is one of the fiercest in technology, with advocates from both sides insisting their OS is superior. With upgrades including Windows 8. The focus is on the large finger-friendly Live Tiles and finger-friendly menus.

Mac OS X vs Windows 8

The desktop remains largely unchanged, to the relief of power users. Thankfully, Microsoft has listened to some of the scathing feedback and changes will be released in the autumn via a Windows 8. The free update will allow Windows 8 to boot directly to the desktop, which bypasses the Start screen entirely. A left-click allows users to jumps back between the Start screen and desktop.

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A more useful right-click brings up a set of shortcuts to access features such as the Control Panel or Task Manager. However, the list of programs appears gone for good. That means Windows 8. Apple doesn't make sweeping changes to OS X, instead introducing incremental upgrades every year. The latest version retains the familiar taskbar full of icons at the bottom of the screen, and the OS remains based on a traditional desktop full of windows.