noone's perfect, and noone's perfectly stupid.
Dude stop being a dick. What did Herman and his Hermits ever do to you??
(JUST JOSHIN' /W YA BRO!)
what the hell is "how things psychologically reads across the screen" supposed to mean anyway?
Nothing. Like user-friendliness, it's a meaningless buzzword that conveys the notion that a product is easier to use while taking the burden off the people developing the product to actually explain HOW. It's advertising jargon. It's not a real metric for anything.
In terms of interface? Superiority, if you want to call it that, comes from how the interface was designed in the first place -- the core philosophy. Apple embraced and contributed in the drive to make computers human-friendly, from how things psychologically read across a screen to the steps between the user and the computer's functions.
Piggybacking off what Leyviur said, what does any of this actual mean? Yes, they DID embrace the philosophy of making computers accessible to the individual, but the Apple 2 was from, what, 1977? The notion of making computers that people can use isn't particularly NEW anymore. While all of what you're saying here's true if you strip out the marketing terminology, there's nothing particular unique about this philosophy now.
A lot of time goes into making sure the Mac OS is generally "invisible" as far as user reception is concerned. There's a lot of subtlety which goes into the design, and it does make a big difference.
What exactly does this mean? I'm assuming you mean that the interface is designed to be invisible to the user, so that they're only aware of working on the task at hand an not with working with the interface, correct? I'd want to say transparency might be a better word there, but that would sound more like "shows you exactly what it's doing at any given time" which isn't really what GUI's do. So I guess invisible's probably the best word here, if we're on the same page.
The problem is, that's only true if you grew up using Macs. I grew up using Windows. This doesn't say ANYTHING about OSX or Windows, mind. Just that you have different mental models depending on where you came from.
* The process of closing an application in OSX is different from in Windows. My initial thought is that pressing the red button on the top right-hand corner of an OSX window would make the program quit. It doesn't. It just minimizes it to the launcher bar. You have to click and hold/right click on the icon in the launcher bar to actually exit this.
While this doesn't present an issue to Mac users, this IS less-than-intuitive for a Windows user and actually prevents somewhat of a security issue on campus because Windows-users, attempting to use the public Macs, don't realize they're not actually QUITTING the application but just minimizing it, and thus may accidentally leave themselves logged into their webmail or other sensitive sites.
* Finder, in functionality, feels pretty much like Windows Explorer. This is fine, but the lack of a true Start Menu equivalent in OSX is sort of jarring for me, at least. While I go through Windows Explorer to launch a lot of programs/manipulate files/whatever, the Start menu is faster to use, by far.
* The way that the application's toolbar is always on the top of the screen and not actually attached to the same window as its program also feels peculiar coming from Windows, because you have to actually change focus to the window of a program before you can use its toolbar, whereas in windows if you have to windows open at the same time you... don't. Especially annoying with the latest iMacs because the screens are huge and it's very easy to tile windows.
* While the mouse is far from tied to the system, I do have to say that I find the Mac Pro Mouse really unintuitive. Because there's only a single button on top, it took me something like three years to realize that it's actually got different regions of sensitivity so that you can right click on things. Except even realizing that, because the buttons are fused, it requires a lot more precision than it really should. I'm not too big on the little scroll nub instead of an actual scroll wheel, and I'm not sure what the side buttons are supposed to do because they've never consistently done anything/the same thing on the Macs I've used.
* Also not big on the new keyboard they're using now. It feels flat and devoid of tactile feedback. Also I hate how they put metal spacers between the keys. My fingers always end up hitting them and that feels really odd to me.
Now, since it sounds like I've been ragging on the Mac -- and I'm not. I'm just illustrating that it's not nearly as intuitive as you might think if you're approaching it from a different mental model -- I want to make a few points.
* MacOS strongly tends towards a unified interface. Windows used to but stopped which is why you now get complete clusterfucks like the latest interface for Microsoft Office. Does anyone actually know how to use that? I sure as hell don't. Granted I used OpenOffice, but sometimes I'm on a lab computer, and they use MS Office. That interface in particular breaks just about every concept we learned in HCI class. Because Macs have a unified interface, programs are pretty much guaranteed to work around the same principle throughout the system.