A lot of people seem to have this idea that Windows Vista looks an awful lot like the MacOS. LifeHacker.com sets some screenshots side-by-side for comparison, and even though they refrain from judgement (“We’re just saying”), I do wish to make a few sidenotes about this issue. Read more for a mini-article on the issue.
Does Windows Vista indeed look a lot like the MacOS? At first sight, you’d say yes. Vista’s Gadgets bear a striking resemblance to Apple’s widgets, for instance. However, you have to go back in time, to 2003 to be precise, to realise that, yes, Microsoft actually got there first, 2 years before Tiger. What?
Yes. In 2003, I reviewed, for OSNews, the then-latest build of Windows Longhorn– build 4051. Check the first screenshot on that page. What do you see? Exactly, a sidebar with gadgets. Yes, even back then, in 2003, Microsoft already had the basic concept of its gadgets in place. You could add plug-ins (they were not yet called gadgets in 2003), such as clocks, recycle bins, slideshows, and so on. The number of plug-ins was limited, of course, but the concept was there. The only thing Microsoft added lately, is the option to also place these plugins outside of the sidebar. But for the rest– no, Microsoft did not copy this from Apple’s Dashboard. If anything, it is the other way around.
Or is it? Not really; as we all know, Apple’s Dashboard is a direct and blatant copy of Konfabulator, which in return is based on Apple’s own ‘Desk Accessories‘ it introduced with the original Macintosh in 1984, in order to create a sense of multitasking (the MacOS back then lacked multitasking, and hence these Desk Accessories weren’t programs, but drivers).
The next programs LifeHacker.com compares are Finder and Explorer. It might be just me, but I don’t see how Explorer is copying off of Finder; there are only so many ways you can lay out the elements in a file manager. Nautilus (in browser mode), Konqueror, Explorer, Finder, Tracker; they all have more or less the same basic layout, so why is Vista’s Explorer any more a copy of Finder than it is of Nautilus?
The same actually goes for the comparison made between iCal and Windows Calendar; besides the obvious similarities (I mean, a monthly calendar is a monthly calendar) the differences are clearly visible; Microsoft has a bar underneath the menubar which contains all the shortcuts to do calendary-things, while iCal has these buttons on the bottom (as do all MacOS applications with similar buttons). The other calendar elements (i.e. to-do list) are in different places in both applications (since I’m running Vista on my Inspiron, and Tiger on my Mac, I can compare them side-by-side in real-time).
The search thing is where the article really gets utterly ridiculous. Apart from displaying the results in a list, is there any other way to display instant search results? What does the author expect, that Microsoft displays the results upside down in inverted colours, while the computer’s PC speaker plays the Dutch national anthem?
In conclusion, I find these often-mentioned similarities between MacOS X and Vista to be very, very superficial– at best. Other cases, such as the Gadgets and Widgets issue, are actually the other way around: Microsoft had the basic idea first, after which Apple (coincidentally or not) implemented something very similar to it (after doing a Xerox PARC, again).
As a final note, please let me state that I find copying to be an essential part of, well, just about every industry. Everybody copies off of everybody, it’s the way good ideas are spread. However, sometimes, credit should be given where it’s due, and that’s what inspired me to write this mini article.
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