Microsoft is ready to regain its stronghold in operating system war over Apple as the Redmond giant released Windows 7 to fight for the mindshare of consumers after the failure of Vista. Through the comparison below you can see the pros and cons of both operating systems.

Upgrade price and complexity

Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, which costs only $29 for upgrade, wins on the price as Windows 7 obviously is more expensive with update prices varying from $119.99 to $219.99.

There are three editions of Windows 7 for sale: Home Premium ($119.99 upgrade, $199.99 full), Professional ($199.99 upgrade, $299.99 full), and Ultimate ($219.99 upgrade, $319.99 full). Anyone with a valid copy of Vista or XP is eligible for the upgrade price.

The first two versions are more common for use, while Professional is more popular for workplaces and hard-core techie users. Ultimate includes everything from the other editions, but doesn't add much more than the abilities to encrypt USB drives and switch to any of 35 languages.

As there are complex multiple versions for Windows 7, it'll also be more complex for upgrading than the Snow Leopard .

Speed

Grand Central Dispatch in OS X Snow Leopard means it's able to take advantage of multicore systems. OS X Snow Leopard is also 64bit by default meaning it can address more memory which theoretically means it should run faster.

Windows 7 also contains support for both multicore systems, and for 64bit installations although it also allows for a 32bit installation too making it equally at home on that crumbly PC you've been wanting to kick more life into. However you should be careful: if you choose to opt for 32bit, it is not possible to simply upgrade Windows 7 on the fly. Changing to 64bit requires a complete clean install.

Usability

It's up to the personal preference to decide which OS is more useable.  Snow Leopard has a history of being more stable than its Microsoft rival but it's also less customizable than Windows 7.

At the same time, visually Windows 7 has taken good features from OS X  with changes to the taskbar and the way widgets are treated on the desktop, which combined with Windows 7's Snap, Shake and Peek features , make Windows 7 the easiest version of Windows to drive.

Security

The two operating systems take security to a new high in terms of both protection and simplicity, but Windows 7 makes managing features such as firewalls and anti-virus software much simpler.

The features

Windows 7 has added radical features like the taskbar, the aero jiggle, the new jump lists, the preview pane, the new backgrounds and the touch enabled parts, all of which give users a completely different look and experience.

Snow Leopard, however, started off with a base that was solid has minimal changes to its interface and features.

But getting into more in-depth comparison, Snow Leopard now includes a context sensitive services menu, a completely new QuickTime interface, a redesigned Expos that's now integrated into the Dock, scrollable Stacks and the latest Safari, which brings iTunes-style Cover Flow browsing.

Networking and set up has always been easy on the Mac but it does have lesser options for tweaking. QuickTime X has got a classy new interface and supports graphics-accelerated playback; the best new feature is built-in video recording and trimming.

Windows 7 has very fast start ups and shutdowns, gets the fun Aero Shake, which enables users to hide everything but the current window by giving it a wiggle. The streamlined Notification Area is easier and more efficient than before.

Users can also get a pop-up preview that enables them to listen to MP3s without opening Windows Media Player. The new Play To feature will command any compatible device on your network and stream stuff to it and of course Windows Media Center is still amazing.

Networking is way easier and home groups is a great feature. The new Libraries feature works well. A library is best defined as a way to view the contents of several folders all in one place. Smart folders on the Mac can't compare to this.

A new feature built into the Windows OS is touch screen support and little touches of this are everywhere.

 Which OS will win the war?

Windows 7 beats the Mac OS in some areas, such as better previews and navigation right from the taskbar, easier organization of open windows on the desktop and touch-screen capabilities. So Apple will have to scramble now that the gift of flawed Vista has been replaced with a reliable, elegant version of Windows, Walt Mossberg, the technology columnist for Wall Street Journal said recently.

Mossberg, who often praises Apple products and criticizes Microsoft software,  gave surprisingly positive review of Windows 7, and he's gone as far as to claim Apple has largely lost its software edge.

In recent years, I, like many other reviewers, have argued that Apple's Mac OS X operating system is much better than Windows. That's no longer true, Mossber

said. 

Windows 7 is a very good, versatile operating system that should help Microsoft bury the memory of Vista and make PC users happy, Mossberg wrote in the conclusion of his review for Windows 7.