iThings Considered

Windows XP vs. Mac OS X

Jake Sargent - 2001.02.16

On Tuesday, Bill Gates introduced the world to the next version of Windows - Windows XP. I'm not going to make judgments and say that Microsoft copied particular Mac OS X features, but there are a few too many similarities between the two operating systems to be coincidental. Instead the theme throughout this article will be that Microsoft used some of Mac OS X's features as inspiration for particular Windows XP components.

You can't blame Microsoft for wanting to replicate some of Apple's ideas. If I were Bill Gates, I would be completely jealous of the fact that Steve Jobs and the folks at Apple created such a masterpiece as Mac OS X. Even a Windows XP beta tester admits that Microsoft has Apple on the eye:

This is so sad. They're just lamely trying to copy Steve Jobs' Apple presentation - right down to the guy having a black shirt and black pants.

Public Beta, Anyone?

With Windows XP, Microsoft is offering PC users the opportunity to test drive Windows XP through a "Windows XP Preview Program." Here is an excerpt from the Windows XP Preview Program Newsletter Sign-Up page, it also suggests that the preview will be available for a price (similar to Mac OS X Public Beta):

By signing up today, you will receive an e-mail notification letting you know Windows® XP is available to order through the Windows XP Preview Program. This special offer is a release candidate-based preview program that will allow you to test-drive the revolutionary new Windows desktop operating system from Microsoft.

Four Letter User Interfaces

You're familiar with Aqua, Mac OS X's interface. Similar to Mac OS X, Microsoft is selling Windows XP in a completely redesigned interface named Luna. Oversized icons seem to be the new trend in user interface, and both designs are surprisingly blue. Microsoft says that Luna "will bring a simple, colorful, and clean look to the desktop," and that it is a result of "significant customer feedback, research, and development." Yeah, it's a result of customer feedback - and Mac OS X.

Kudos goes to Microsoft for realizing that they had to redesign that hideous look operating system. But next time, they should try to use something called "originality."

The Software Strategy

If you were lucky enough to attend the Macworld keynote a few weeks ago (or watch it via the Internet), you probably remember Steve Job's demonstration using a G4 tower as a hub that interacts with a variety of different peripherals. He went on to talk about Apple's focus on software development, the introduction of iTunes, iDVD, and DVD Studio Pro. Creating such programs as iMovie and iTunes was an intelligent move for Apple, and according to popular rumors, there are more such programs in the works. During his presentation on Tuesday, Bill Gates made a point to talk about the increasing demand for connectivity between personal computers and other electronics (sound familiar?). "Music is hard to work with. It's hard to have a play list. The digital revolution is changing that," Microsoft's CEO boasted.

Multiple Users When reading more about Windows XP on Microsoft's web site, I came across a screenshot of the Welcome Screen. "Gee, I've seen that somewhere before," I thought to myself. That's because it resembles Multiple Users in both design and features - it even has the same rubber ducky avatar! (See Wired page, which shows both. Microsoft's rubber ducky is a mirror image of Apple's.)

Windows XP makes it easy to create individual accounts for everyone who uses your computer. This means that when each of you log on, you will have your own, individualized computing environment. And if your family shares a computer, Windows XP allows you to quickly switch between users without closing down and restarting any programs.

Windows XP is a good attempt, and it is an improvement over previous Windows versions. However, one would think that a company such as Microsoft, which has been so successful over the years, wouldn't need to use some of its opponent's ideas just to sell a few hundred thousand copies of an operating system.

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