Windows Vista vs. Ubuntu vs. Mac OS X Tiger vs. design, box design that is. Are you familiar with the old expression "you cannot judge an operating system by its packaging?" Well, this is just such a case. There is no compelling connection between the box and what you will end up with installed on your machine. Or is it? In the adjacent images you will be able to see the boxes for Ubuntu, mac OS X Tiger and Windows Vista. The bottom line is that, when it comes down to assessing the packaging, which one of the three will come up on top? I will say that taste is something specific to each and everyone of us. Therefore these are just my personal preferences, and I do not, by any means offer anything else.
When it comes down to the actual design of the box, Microsoft's Windows Vista is hands down the winner. The unique box however has as main practical purpose the company's need to differentiate genuine Windows Vista copies from pirated versions, sold as legitimate software. While the packaging is not impossible to counterfeit, Microsoft has come to the conclusion that bootleggers did not even try, and instead sold Vista as pirated. By comparison, the boxes for Ubuntu and Tiger are not spectacular. Not for their shape, but what about style?
Well, my favorite is Ubuntu. The CD cover design on the left is just one of the many variations that are centered on the same idea. What strikes me about Ubuntu is that it has the courage to associate human faces to a software product. Faces repeating different versions and interpretations of the Ubuntu logo. "Ubuntu is an African word meaning 'Humanity to others', or 'I am what I am because of who we all are'. The Ubuntu distribution brings the spirit of Ubuntu to the software world," is the company's official explanation for their distribution of the Linux operating system. I must also confess that Ubuntu is the first Linux operating system that I simply could not wait to get home to. I am a Windows man myself, and a Windows Vista hard-core user, but I simply fell in love with Ubuntu.
Right, obviously Windows Vista is next. I can still vividly remember the first time I wrote about the new boxes for Windows Vista. Following the RTM of the operating system, Microsoft also released the first images of what was going to be the packagings for Windows Vista. At the beginning of November 2006, the first picture of a Windows Vista Ultimate opened box was made available. It is obvious that Microsoft's user experience team has done a great job with the design of the overall style of Windows Vista. It is Aero from one end to the other, and the boxes are clear illustrations.
Last, hmmm... Mac OS X Tiger. Windows Vista's packagings suffer from impersonality; well, the Tiger box says nothing to me. I have never been a big fan of the minimalist style in art. Nuances and flavors are the key to my heart. The designers that have looked endlessly for the best CRT monitor, just to enjoy the largest gamut possible in Photoshop know what I am talking about. Tiger's box is too simple and primitive for my taste, and in this sense it is just the antonym of Ubuntu's design.