Thurrott: Apple copying Microsoft’s Longhorn search features with Mac OS X ‘Spotlight’

“At the Professional Developers Conference 2003 in Los Angeles last year, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates touted the searching innovations that would go into Longhorn, the next generation Windows version that’s now due in mid-2006. In a way, by detailing the new desktop search features Microsoft was working on so early, Gates had thrown down the gauntlet. In today’s PC world, desktop search is a miserable, slow affair, and as Microsoft executives are fond of pointing out, it shouldn’t take longer to find a file you know is on your hard drive than it takes to perform a Web search,” Paul Thurrott writes for Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows.

“However, Gates was also giving his competitors a leg up on Microsoft. And since announcing its Longhorn desktop search intentions, Microsoft’s worst fears were realized. Other companies began copying the Microsoft desktop search strategy, knowing that the never-ending Longhorn delays would help them get to market sooner and appear to be nimbler and even more innovative, though it’s sort of astonishing how transparent that latter claim is,” Thurrott writes.

“Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced in June 2004 that the next version of Mac OS X, due sometime in 2005, will include a desktop search feature called Spotlight. The Spotlight feature set is a rough subset of the desktop search features Gates discussed in late 2003, but presented to the user with Apple’s standard graphical excellence. Spotlight, according to Apple, is a “radically new and lightning fast way to find anything saved on your personal computer. Email messages, contacts and calendars, along with files and folders, all show up in Spotlight results.” Spotlight’s biggest claims to fame, presumably, are its near-instant search results and support for document meta data, both of which are, again, planned features of Longhorn. But no matter. While Apple has been busy copping Windows features since Jobs returned to Apple in late 1996, the company’s tiny market share ensures that very few people will benefit from Spotlight, despite Apple claims that it will deliver on desktop search a year before Microsoft ships Longhorn,’ Thurrott writes.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Delusional as usual, Thurrott attempts to write his own history, conveniently forgetting to mention Apple’s Mac OS 8.5 Sherlock (released October, 1998) and shows a lack of basic understanding about Spotlight. Fortunately, Apple shows what Spotlight can do on their website, so you can see for yourself here.

On July 02, 2004, Leander Kahney reported for Wired News, “Ken Bereskin, Apple’s director of Mac OS X product marketing, said Spotlight has been a couple of years in development — before Panther — and incorporates several complex system technologies. Bereskin said the system was inspired by the speedy search engine in iTunes, which instantly returns results as soon as the user starts typing: whether the match is in the song’s title, album, genre or artist fields. ‘We noticed that people just search all the time,’ he said. ‘We asked if that could be applied to everything: contacts, calendar, e-mail and the contents of your hard drive.'”

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Apple Exec: Mac OS X Tiger’s ‘Spotlight’ system-wide search tech inspired by iTunes – July 02, 2004
Apple’s Mac OS X 10.4 ‘Tiger’ to contain powerful ‘Spotlight’ search technology – November 11, 2004


  1. “[A]ppear to be nimbler”? Isn’t that the definition of nimbler? To be able to perform a task with speed and agility? That’s what Apple does, as opposed to M$, slow, lumbering, and clumsy.

    Thurrott needs to:
    a.) get a dictionary
    b.) change his medication

    [My first first post!]

  2. Yeah, Steve stole the idea of Airport cards, high speed Firewire, extremely custom sizable application icons, expos�, fitting a 64 bit computer into the back of a monitor and building in real security to an Operating System from Bill.

    Not to mention the fact that the search function in the current version of OSXs’ Finder is already pretty efficient, much more than Windows Explorer Search. Finder could use a doggy mascot though. (Kidding)

  3. i read the story before it was posted on MDN, and i must say that some of the intelligent comments by readers there really impressed me. Almost 90% pro Apple comments.

    Thurrot is such a toss, he is only baiting us. When in 5 years, the future has changed and MicroSchrott is no more… people like him…

    well lets just say, that if he were on fire and lying in the gutter, I wouldn’t piss on him…

  4. Silly article. The one interesting thing I will say about the Longhorn offering is that it was supposed to use SQL Server as the basis for file management. Now *that* is a cool idea. SQL Server is a pretty solid offering from MS, and SQL queries have always been lightning fast, so I was excited to see OS infrastructures move towards database underpinnings.

    Of course, MS has abandoned this for Longhorn, and even if they implemented it, it probably would have sucked in M$ fashion. And, yeah, it’s pretty easy to see how Spotlight was inspired by the search tool in iTunes.

  5. If we look at MS-Apple history as a guide, Bill Gates’s speech on the search engine was probably based on the proprietary information MS received from Apple under non-disclosure agreement (like they did with QuickTime).

  6. Who really knows what “features” will be included in ShortHorn ?? …
    Everytime you turn around, we keep hearing about the Evil Empire having to remove this and that, just to keep it on schedule !!

    All we really know is, it will probably end up being just more over-bloated insecure code written over DOS…

    I may be a little out of the loop, but I saw His Steveness do his keynote featuring “Spotlight” way before I heard about Google’s desktop search.. and later Billy Gates half assed attempt at the same thing…

  7. Who knows if Longhorn ( if it ever comes to fruition ) will have have this search feature when it is released. You can’t copy something that doesn’t exist.

    This guy is just whoreing for hits on his webstite. He will make up any dribble just to encite mac users to generate hits. Don’t fall for it. The best thing to do is ignore him and his insignificant rants.

  8. If Apple is “ripping off” any pre-existing OS’ search functionality, it is the BEOS’, not the fictional Longhorn’s.

    If you follow this link:

    You can read all about how Dominic Giampaolo (who worked on BEOS) is the brain behind Spotlight, and how spotlight works (hint: there may be more than one reason Tiger includes ramped-up SQLite support).

    Of course, I would think a “good technology-reporter” could do some basic research on a topic he was going to report on. But it looks like Thurott is just shooting from the hip here. I’m not sure if that means I have a misconception of a what a “good technology-reporter” is, or if it means Paul is not a good technology reporter. I leave it to the fair and unbiased MacDailyNews readers to decide.

  9. Even I, the great B. Gates, thank you, thank you for the ovation. think that P. Turdrott is a waste of skin. I sold the world MicroSuck (suckers), he couldn’t sell his wife a 2 inch broken electric dildo. Like his name, Turdrott, he should be flushed.

  10. How can Apple being copying something (Longhorn) that doesn’t truly exist? Tiger with Spotlight will be release a good 2 years before Longhorn ever sees the light of day. And if Turdrott is referring to that Alpha (not even Beta yet) OS that M$ is currently working on, then he is as delusional as ever.

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