When you first eyeball OS X, I mean, really, actually look at it and use it for a bit, you realise that it looks different. During some reading, I found out why.
Of course, Mac OS X is going to look different, the menus and screen movement is different from Windows. But there is something about the look that really made it “stand out” different to my eyes.
I was working with monitor calibration the other day, and had a Windows machine to check the difference. Thats when I realised that the displays are actually coloured differently.
You can see most clearly if you head to the System Preferences, Display, and then Color. The default setting is “White OS Native”.
Basically, the default colour settings for a MAC is to use a pure white. I am no colour expert, but the screen seems brighter and has more “pop”.
If you select the “Blue White PC” you will notice that the screen now has a faint blue / yellow tinge. This is meant to be a ‘cooler’ colour that is more pleasing and more natural. This is the default settings for Windows.
I think we all know about Cleartype font smoothing on Windows and how it dramatically improves font readability and that Apple would have something similar. This group of technologies is actually “Font smoothing, anti-aliasing, and sub-pixel rendering” that makes up the result.
Where they differ is in philosophy.
* Apple generally believes that the goal of the algorithm should be to preserve the design of the typeface as much as possible, even at the cost of a little bit of blurriness.
* Microsoft generally believes that the shape of each letter should be hammered into pixel boundaries to prevent blur and improve readability, even at the cost of not being true to the typeface.
Now that Safari for Windows is available, which goes to great trouble to use Apple’s rendering algorithms, you can actually compare the philosophies side-by-side on the very same monitor and see what I mean. I think you’ll notice the difference. Apple’s fonts are indeed fuzzy, with blurry edges, but at small font sizes, there seems to be much more variation between different font families, because their rendering is truer to what the font would look like if it were printed at high resolution.
This is discussed in full at Joel on Software and he clearly shows the differences.
So on an Apple Mac, the same page will display just a bit differently.
You say rooter, I say rowder
I have personally found that I prefer the font and colours on the Mac. I have to use Windows machines at work occasionally , and they just don’t look so appealing.
I find it fascinating that the same hardware can be manipulated to create a different look that can affect the consumers impression of a product. I suspect at least some of this is marketing, or sheer bloody mindedness from Apple but it not really a big deal.
Now I tend to calibrate my screen to suit my own taste, I guess I just don’t like being mainstream and using the ‘default settings’.