The Rodney O. Lain Archive

The Iconoclast: Vaporware Alert! Microsoft Copycats iMovie, Rips Off QuickTime Look and Feel

Rodney O. Lain - 1999.12.09

This article was originally published on MacSimple, a site which no longer exists. It is copyright 1999 by The Linton Media Company, which also seems to no longer exist. It is thus reprinted here without permission (which we would gladly obtain if possible.) Links have been retained when possible, but many go to the Internet Wayback Machine.

Here at MacSimple, we try to stay above the fray by avoiding Windows and Microsoft bashing, but this time there was no way we could remain silent in light of Microsoft's blatant ripping off the Mac . . . again.

This won't be a flame, since we doubt Bill Gates would ever read this. It'd be a waste of good flame if the flamee doesn't read the flame. That said, let's get dirty....

Beginning of rant

Over at CBS MarketWatch, Courtney Smith makes a cogent observation when she says that Microsoft's Glory Days Are Over." You should go and read this article. We tend to agree with it, since the beleaguered company's latest move is akin to the desperate act of a dinosaur that sees the meteor hurtling toward the earth.

Mr. Gates made a "duh" announcement yesterday that desktop video is the next great thing, and Microsoft will be all over it like white on rice. Of course the PC media is lapping it up, without mentioning once that Apple is months ahead of Mr. Gates.

Check this out: Mr. Gates announced the company's new vaporware, an application called Windows Movie Maker, which will be part of "Windows Millennium."

(For the uninitiated, "vaporware" is a term applied to the practice of announcing a product, even if there is no such product in production or planning, just to steal the thunder of a competitor's product that may be currently shipping. Microsoft has made this into a modus operandi.)

CNET summed it up quite nicely: "RealNetworks may be feeling a little like Netscape Communications did about three years ago. The leader in the market for streaming audio and video content over the Internet, Real has an early advantage over Microsoft, which began offering its Windows Media Player in response to the success of RealNetworks' RealPlayer, RealJukebox and G2 software." RealNetworks is ostensibly the target for the latest Microsoft death threat disguised as a product announcement.

Rest assured that Apple's QuickTime is also in the devilish details, also. Read on...

According to PC World online, this Movie Maker "automatically divides the stored video clip into segments that appear in the program as a series of still images. You can drag and drop selected video clips into a 'storyboard, to compile a custom movie. "

Now, where have we seen and heard this description before? Let's see: iMovie was demoed in October by Steve Jobs, wasn't it? Bill Gates is speaking in, what, December?

So this is just another piece of "me, too" software belching out of Redmond, Washington.

But, wait. It gets worse. The article continues:

"[MS Movie Maker] includes an on-screen graphics equalizer, so you can adjust the bass and treble settings of downloaded music files. "

Keep in mind that Bill Gates said not too long ago that all Apple is the leader in is color. Go and look at QuickTime 4, reread the above description of Microsoft's application, then you tell me who's leading whom?

Just remember when you hear Bill Gates talking of innovation, consider the source.

You can read the rest of PC World's article yourself. It's called "Gates: The Future is Moving Pictures."

It seems that if you really want to keep abreast of what Microsoft and the rest of the PC industry will be doing in the future, just look at what Apple is doing today.

You know what? I have the sad feeling that there isn't a blessed thing Apple can do to stop Microsoft. This may be part of the cross-patent licensing agreement between the two companies back in 1997 when Steve Jobs made his deal with the Great Satan of the computer industry. Talk about a Faustian bargain.

It's amazing how this industry works.

Where's the Department of Justice when you need them? We need them to protect us from Microsoft's attempt to make the world safe for innovation, if you know what I mean, and I think you do....

End of rant.

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