Linked by snydeq on Mon 12th Oct 2009 15:24 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces InfoWorld's John Rizzo chronicles the 20 most significant ideas and features Microsoft and Apple have stolen from each other in the lead up to Windows 7 and Mac OS X Snow Leopard. 'Some features were stolen so long ago that they've become part of the computing landscape, and it's difficult to remember who invented what.' Windows 7's Task Bar and Aero Peek come to mind as clear appropriations of Mac OS X's Dock and Expose. Apple's cloning of the Windows address bar in 2007's Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard as the path bar is another obvious 'inspiration.' But the borrowing goes deeper, Rizzo writes, providing a screenshot tour of Microsoft's biggest grabs from Mac OS X and Apple's most significant appropriations of Windows OS ideas and functionality.
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strcpy
Member since:
2009-05-20

Take the example of GNU.

The whole practical ideology behind GNU was to provide alternatives to common UNIX tools. As sad as it might be, at the level of true innovation and originality, GNU has not contributed anything worth mentioning.

Even today, several of high-profile GNU projects are nothing but copy-and-rewrite something that someone else came up with. I appreciate them doing all this work and they make good (alternative) tools, but at the fundamental level they are just "copying".

Edited 2009-10-12 18:53 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 4

wirespot Member since:
2006-06-21

Even today, several of high-profile GNU projects are nothing but copy-and-rewrite something that someone else came up with. I appreciate them doing all this work and they make good (alternative) tools, but at the fundamental level they are just "copying".


I'm afraid I can't agree to that. Even though you used quotes around "copying". To copy is to not do any work, or to do very little. But if you're given the task of replicating functionality by implementing it from scratch it's certainly not as easy as "copying" would make it seem. Yes, innovation and breakthroughs in conceptual development are hard and those who do it deserve credit. But actual implementation, even if it is re-implementation, is work that is just as hard and also deserves credit. And very often those who reimplement software perform feats of innovation themselves, during the creation of their particular solutions of implementation.

This is actually why sharing ideas and allowing reimplementation is good, and why blocking ideas or software or fundamental knowledge like math with patents is bad. Because by building upon ideas from others we evolve much faster.

Let me put it this way. If you see a public park arranged in a particularly nice way and you go home and work hard and make your garden look that way too, does it mean that you stole from that park? Yes, those who made the park payed for a skilled designer. But they meant the park to be seen by the public at large and once you saw it you cannot "unsee" it.

Should I avoid following the philosophical ideas in a book because the author thought about them first? Even though he meant for them to be read? Should we refrain from using things that get into our brains because we feel like we owe whoever had that idea first?

Reply Parent Score: 3

strcpy Member since:
2009-05-20

No big disagreements here. Replicating functionality deserves credit, especially when done in the spirit of free/open source software. I did try to mention that.

But, and this is intentionally provocative, GNU should not go to the history books as an innovator in the field of software. In the field of software licenses and politics around software, sure, they should be (and will be) remembered.

Edited 2009-10-12 20:15 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

Hae-Yu Member since:
2006-01-12

Yes, innovation and breakthroughs in conceptual development are hard and those who do it deserve credit. But actual implementation, even if it is re-implementation, is work that is just as hard and also deserves credit.


I agree with your general belief as stated elsewhere in your post that innovation is a cumulative process. However, I have to take issue with the part of your statement that I bolded.

Reimplementation is NEVER as hard as working with original inspiration. That original programmer had to, first of all, be inspired, and inspiration doesn't happen on command. I can spend weeks fighting a problem and a night banging it out in code.

How much effort did Microsoft, for instance, put into creating Windows keyboard shortcuts? (A big one the article missed). Virtually all Windows' basic keyboard shortcuts were lifted from the Mac: ctrl+c, ctrl+v, ctrl+x, ctrl+a, ctrl+z.... Woohoo, they changed from Command key to Control Key. Sure it had to be programmed from scratch on a different platform, but they didn't have to do any legwork.

Think about everything that had to go into that. Some Apple designer had to think "maybe kb shortcuts would speed up this GUI thing." Then he had to sell the idea to his fellow devs, then to management, probably make a mockup all his own, maybe he had to fight for it against GUI purists, maybe go over his boss' head and alienate coworkers thereby jeopardizing his job, then program basic functionality, then code it, test it, fine tune it over years as others throw their ideas in and new shortcuts are added... Think about how much work went into deciding which common actions needed KB shortcuts and which keys to assign to each action.

Then you have MS. Probably farmed the work out to drones in Ireland or India with a spec sheet that said "augment GUI functionality with KB shortcuts. Key assignments should conform with existing industry usage." Wink, Wink.

Reimplementing is in no way shape/ fashion/ form as hard or heartbreaking as making new functionality. Reimplementing is hanging your hat on ideas that have already withstood the real world. Outside the legal aspect, there isn't any risk.

Edited 2009-10-13 16:27 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

rirmak Member since:
2009-06-23

Heh, your truism/comment is really perverse, but RMS deserves it. Hell, you even found the most foxy context (article) for it, LOLZ!

Indeed, FSF don't deserve our fairness because they promise and don't deliver. As sad as it sounds, they pretend they're all about innovation but all they do is they basically provide "free software" versions of warez that, well, I can always download for free anyway. Philosophically speaking, at some fundamental level they are just "downloading" the warez for me.

(Don't get me wrong, I appreciate FSF doing all this work. I just hate doublespeak. Especially honestly sad, appreciative, and off-topic doublespeak.)

Reply Parent Score: 1

eldarion Member since:
2008-12-15

You are wrong. Free Software have innovation. Take a look at KDE4. What desktop environment you know that is completely based on SVG? And what about the folder view widget? On this, i belive it was proprietary software that copied from FOSS (http://www.stardock.com/products/fences/)

Reply Parent Score: 1

lightweight Member since:
2009-10-14

Hmmm...
Emacs ('nuff said)
GCC (probably the most widely used compiler available)
Gzip (if I'm not mistaken, this was the best compression around for quite a while)
The GNU General Public License (the most widely usd free/open source software license)
The concept of Free Software

Not innovative?

Reply Parent Score: 1

strcpy Member since:
2009-05-20


Emacs ('nuff said)


I'll just correct this single one: FYI, Emacs dates to the 1970s, long before GNU even existed.

'nuff said.

Edited 2009-10-14 10:09 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

steogede2 Member since:
2007-08-17

Take the example of GNU.

The whole practical ideology behind GNU was to provide alternatives to common UNIX tools. As sad as it might be, at the level of true innovation and originality, GNU has not contributed anything worth mentioning.

Even today, several of high-profile GNU projects are nothing but copy-and-rewrite something that someone else came up with. I appreciate them doing all this work and they make good (alternative) tools, but at the fundamental level they are just "copying".


Firstly, several are "rewrites" - however the vast majority of those rewrites add massively to the original. Secondly, there are GNU has many many projects - many of which are highly inovation and very unique. Have you ever seen another "text editor"/OS like GNU EMACS - or how about a boot loader like GNU GRUB?

Reply Parent Score: 1