Linked by umad on Thu 25th Aug 2011 22:51 UTC
Apple I thought OSNews would be a good forum to talk about a matter that has been weighing on my mind lately primarily because the site has been so focused on Apple's patents and litigation as of late. The news that HP, the largest PC manufacturer in the world is spinning off or getting out of this business is what really prompted me to write this article.
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RE: Wait a minute...
by atsureki on Fri 26th Aug 2011 20:46 UTC in reply to "Wait a minute..."
atsureki
Member since:
2006-03-12

How much of the industry is littered with make-believe stories and innuendo?


Your entire post is innuendo, but let's just answer your question.

IMHO:

At the end of the day, the GUI that made the Mac unique was a Xerox invention. How many operating systems owe their very existance to them? I know Apple people claim they were compensated, but is this really so?


Yes.

It is not a humble opinion, but a matter of public record that Xerox invented much of what became Lisa and the original Mac, and subsequently the entire popular concept of a "computer". Apple did a lot of work in enhancing the UI and creating a consumer-grade machine powerful enough to run it, but a lot of the original R&D owes to Xerox.

Steve Jobs and Apple engineers were specifically invited to tour PARC and see their inventions. In exchange for early access to Apple stock at a reduced price, Apple got to make products based on PARC concepts. Xerox invested itself in a company capable of delivering products based on its inventions, in order to share in any resultant success.

Two crucial points. One, the arrangement was Xerox's idea. Two, it was an offer exclusive to Apple.

http://www.fool.com/news/foth/2000/foth000918.htm
http://www.macworld.com/article/50115/2006/03/30timeline.html

Microsoft's Windows is a copy of an adaptation. They got early access to Mac technology -- including some of the GUI code -- to help them make an office suite for the new computers. Meanwhile, they made a clone behind Apple's back. Apple, apparently not considering it a threat, settled over Windows 1.0 with a license covering most of the GUI technologies Microsoft had cloned. When Microsoft continued to develop Windows into something much more Mac-like, Apple brought it to court, where it was determined that either their license covered what Microsoft was doing (the license was foolishly written to be perpetual), or what had started on the Mac and moved to Windows was not subject to copyright.

And here we are now, waiting to see if patents hold any more water than copyrights did.

It's also worth mentioning, that at the same time the Mac and PC were originally battling it out, the Amiga's operating system and user interface was light-years ahead of either of them. Never mind hardware specs.


Why is that worth mentioning? MacOS was already ahead of Windows at the time, so neither excellence nor originality won out, whether you take Amiga into consideration or not. Are you suggesting that if Apple had been more consistently and aggressively litigious, Amiga might not be around today? (Perish the thought.)

So what exactly is the argument presented in this article? If they had begun suing much earlier then Apple (and therefore all of us) would be much better off? Or is just a tale of bitterness and/or morality?


The argument, as I interpret it, is that Apple got shafted and knows enough to try not to get shafted again by whatever legal means it can muster. Having done some reading to respond to you, one interesting loophole I noticed is that UI elements weren't found to be out of scope of copyright per se, just that none of the ones Microsoft was using unlicensed were covered, nor was the overall innovative arrangement ("look and feel"). Since Apple didn't license the iOS interface to Google, they may even still have copyright ammunition despite the Look and Feel outcome.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Wait a minute...
by Dr.Mabuse on Sat 27th Aug 2011 05:29 in reply to "RE: Wait a minute..."
Dr.Mabuse Member since:
2009-05-19

"How much of the industry is littered with make-believe stories and innuendo?


Your entire post is innuendo, but let's just answer your question.
"

Ouch ... Must have touched a nerve.

I have to try and focus my reply, so excuse my snipping:

Steve Jobs and Apple engineers were specifically invited to tour PARC and see their inventions. In exchange for early access to Apple stock at a reduced price, Apple got to make products based on PARC concepts. Xerox invested itself in a company capable of delivering products based on its inventions, in order to share in any resultant success.

Two crucial points. One, the arrangement was Xerox's idea. Two, it was an offer exclusive to Apple.


So the idea of a "WIMP" GUI is *exclusive* to Apple? Presumably through patent or copyright transfer? Your provided links don't seem to support this idea. Where can I find more information on this (anyone?) A solid reference would be nice.

Do you support the idea the Microsoft copied code from Apple?

"It's also worth mentioning, that at the same time the Mac and PC were originally battling it out, the Amiga's operating system and user interface was light-years ahead of either of them. Never mind hardware specs.


Why is that worth mentioning? MacOS was already ahead of Windows at the time, so neither excellence nor originality won out, whether you take Amiga into consideration or not. Are you suggesting that if Apple had been more consistently and aggressively litigious, Amiga might not be around today? (Perish the thought.)
"

Yes, it's worth mentioning because this story is not really just about PC and Mac. There were numerous other players at the time, dozens of different user interfaces, some I'm sure some were influenced by the Mac, and others by Xerox and many had plenty of original ideas by themselves (see the Amiga's "screen" concept.)

The fact that Windows was hardly even used at the time (certainly until v3) means that the Mac's lack of "world domination" was nothing do with any perceived wrong-doing by Microsoft, but rather by the more open and performant platform that the PC was.

The argument, as I interpret it, is that Apple got shafted and knows enough to try not to get shafted again by whatever legal means it can muster. Having done some reading to respond to you, one interesting loophole I noticed is that UI elements weren't found to be out of scope of copyright per se, just that none of the ones Microsoft was using unlicensed were covered, nor was the overall innovative arrangement ("look and feel"). Since Apple didn't license the iOS interface to Google, they may even still have copyright ammunition despite the Look and Feel outcome.


IMHO: Apple make nice products for sure, but the fact is, without them we'd still have modern GUIs, we'd still have tablets, smart phones and we'd still have portable music and video players. They are not are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.

Are Apple and it's fans so immersed in the cult of victimhood that they fail to recognise that they didn't get "shafted" ? They were out-competed by products which performed better and cost less. The success they have now is because they have a good product that seems to fill a (much-hyped) niche. Who will they blame if (or when) this too comes to end?

Edited 2011-08-27 05:48 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Wait a minute...
by atsureki on Sat 27th Aug 2011 16:25 in reply to "RE[2]: Wait a minute..."
atsureki Member since:
2006-03-12

Ouch ... Must have touched a nerve.

I have to try and focus my reply, so excuse my snipping:


I meant the innuendo comment as literally as possible, that the original post didn't contain solid facts or assertions, but rather insinuated an alternate version of events with the use of rhetorical questions. I take the "ouch" to mean you thought otherwise.

And I appreciate pointed, essay-style replies; the line-by-line Usenet style arguing got old for me years ago, so snip all you like.

So the idea of a "WIMP" GUI is *exclusive* to Apple? Presumably through patent or copyright transfer? Your provided links don't seem to support this idea. Where can I find more information on this (anyone?) A solid reference would be nice.


My point in emphasizing those details was to dispel the various myths that Apple and Microsoft both copied Xerox in much the same manner. One fable has it that Bill Gates was also invited to PARC, which is false -- that's the part that was exclusive to Apple, in exchange for the stock purchase. Other versions say both Apple and Microsoft copied the Alto, which is also false: Xerox didn't have an actual product before it got Apple involved. Circumstantial evidence doesn't allow for that, either. Apple and Microsoft somehow made exactly the same enhancements to PARC's desktop system after taking the same cursory glance at a finished product?

At the time, Apple hadn't thought of using the patent system to protect its software innovations, and the court threw out their attempts at copyright claims, so exclusivity at least didn't end up being a legal right. It's the access arrangement that was exclusive to Apple: tech tours for stock. What happened after that is history.

Do you support the idea the Microsoft copied code from Apple?


It's my understanding that Microsoft had access to some of Apple's GUI code during the development of Office, and I believe they made use of it, but I don't know whether it was ever proven. Years later they set up a deal with Canyon, then in possession of Apple's Quicktime code, to develop Video for Windows, so I believe they (again) used Apple code to make unauthorized, competing products.

The fact that Windows was hardly even used at the time (certainly until v3) means that the Mac's lack of "world domination" was nothing do with any perceived wrong-doing by Microsoft, but rather by the more open and performant platform that the PC was.


I don't follow the reasoning here, or what you mean by "performant." Windows was always the more "open" (a better word would be flexible) platform; it only took off once it was mature, i.e. once it approached Mac usability.

For the record, I'm not proposing that Apple would have had the entire PC market as it was if not for Microsoft's disruption; my interest was only in setting the record straight on who innovated and/or stole what, and what a company in Apple's position might be able to do to prevent defeat at the hands of imitators. Patent protection for software hadn't been conceived of at the time; now filings are everywhere, and it's coming time to actually test them in court.

IMHO: Apple make nice products for sure, but the fact is, without them we'd still have modern GUIs, we'd still have tablets, smart phones and we'd still have portable music and video players. They are not are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.


That's speculation, not fact, and I counterspeculate that they would look and work more like CDE, UMPC, Blackberry, and Creative Zen respectively. Apple repeatedly puts the most work into an elegant design that the rest of the industry treats as a free template, originally with the Mac but especially now with iPhone and iPad knockoffs running Android. That they're trying to fight that is no vice, and if they win, it will be a positive precedent for originality, much needed after WebOS's failure. Lazy copying makes the world stand still.

Are Apple and it's fans so immersed in the cult of victimhood that they fail to recognise that they didn't get "shafted" ? They were out-competed by products which performed better and cost less. The success they have now is because they have a good product that seems to fill a (much-hyped) niche. Who will they blame if (or when) this too comes to end?


What do you call it when you work is used against you, leaving you with no legal recourse? I call it shafted.

Today's Apple is both more prolific and more aggressively plagiarized. Time will tell whether the courts have anything to say about the latter, but the former is what gives them a future.

Reply Parent Score: 2