As someone who uses a Mac to do my daily work, I was pleasantly surprised by how far Windows has come when I sat down to compare the latest server OS software from Apple and Microsoft. My comparison focused on several common tasks, including adding users, managing services, and setting up Web and e-mail accounts and configurations. I used the latest server hardware from Apple, a very sexy-looking G5 Xserve rackmounted server, and compared it with an HP desktop running Microsoft's Windows Server 2003.
You would think that the task of adding a new user would be simple, but with Windows I was stopped dead in my tracks. My roadblock was password failure. No matter what combination of letters and numbers I tried, I ran afoul of Windows' password policies. Even changing the policies didn't seem to matter. I never did figure out why I couldn't get it to work and eventually was forced to give up my task.
With the Apple G5 Xserve running OS X, I had an altogether different experience. I was impressed with its intuitive ease of use and the clean layout of the numerous server-monitoring and configuration screens. I had no problems creating a new user -- password and all. This thrilled me to death after my Windows experience.
Back to Windows. As a result of not be able to set up a new user because of the password issues, I coudn't set up an e-mail account for this user. So far Windows wasn't doing too well on first impressions. But in this respect, I had problems on the Apple side as well, and couldn't easily locate the menus for setting up the e-mail server.
I next tried to find the place in the configuration menus to start and stop Web services in both machines. As a newcomer to Windows, it was somewhat of a daunting task. When you know the right path to follow, you get there rather quickly and painlessly. Of course, along that path you start out with your usual "access denied." (It probably would have saved me some frustration had I found out my servers' names and paths before I actually tried to get there.)