Now that Panther is out, I’ve been perusing some of the reports of speed increases and ruminating on the ages old Mac vs. Win showdown. It’s tired, I know, but I wanted to report my own experience because…well, really for no reason at all other than to state a real-world experience. There’s a test I want to see that I proffer will be more accurate than any benchmarks or “Application Showdowns”.I drove an HP Omnibook 800mhz earlier this year before I switched and took on the lovely 12 inch powerbook at a comparable 867mhz. This is a close comparison on paper, but before that I used Macs running much slower than comparable Intel machines on average in terms of clock speed.So we constantly see benchmarked tests and speed tests of applications, which give varying reports. That’s fine, but when I read these I always want to ask, “is that really how anyone’s machine is configured?”. What I would like to see is a test of Bob the realtor’s home office machine running WinXP Home after one year of use, vs. Jim the journalist’s machine running OS X Jaguar after a year.Why? Here’s the thing—Macs usually are installed with two basic groups of software, the OS, and the Apps. That’s it, generally speaking. Windows boxes are usually installed with three groups of software – the OS, the Apps, and the Utitlities. By Utilities, I mean all the little crap applications that are required to make it work with each piece of extraneous hardware (even OEM installed), each potential virus, and each potential hacker. When I was running the two laptops side by side, HP and Apple, I had massive speed differences in the Mac. Very noticeable, far beyond the clock speed differences. Why? The system tray and registry attrition.After a year of use almost any Windows user will have a system tray full of little apps and crap, some that are useful, some that are not. It’s these that i’m referring to. Yes, the Mac has little background apps too – but I’m referring to the class of application more than the visual location. Utilities that do virus scans; utilities that scan for spyware; utilities that operate a firewall; reminders to do this or that or the other thing that Windows thinks you should. After a year with each OS, with the additional detritus that accumulates invisibly in the registry as well, you have a slower computer on Windows than you do on OS X in my experience. This is despite even major clock hurdles. That’s the test I want to see PC World do – Bob the Realtor vs. Jim the Journalist, one year later.