Coming from a Windows background, I'm confused about the concepts of minimizing windows and hiding applications. What are the differences between the two, and when would you want to use one method over the other?
Each has it's own benefits and weaknesses... these are the technical differences between the two.
Each attribute will be marked with an "M" for Minimizing or "H" for Hiding. While it's very subjective, I'll put the one that I think is better on top
Accessing windows via Expose:
Accessing windows via Application Switcher:
Accessing windows via Dock:
Application Switcher icon location:
Indication of hidden windows:
Switching focus to a new application:
One more thing to consider: when hidden, apps can be brought back with CMD-TAB combination. But when you do it, you will bring up all open windows of that application.
When minimized, this is not possible. In a clean OS X there is no way to do it without using the mouse, at least in my knowledge. Using a mouse is considered a slow-down by a number of users.
In general, OS X is application-centric (and windows are of second importance), as opposed to Windows, which is window-centered. I prefer window-centered approach (since I need a window to interact with the machine, therefore windows are what I care about), but this requires 3rd party tools, such as Witch.