Thurrott on Mac OS X Leopard Preview: Apple the copycat?

“Sometimes I wonder how Apple CEO Steve Jobs can sleep at night. He appears to spend half his waking hours ridiculing Microsoft’s admittedly behind-schedule operating system, Windows Vista, for copying Mac OS X features. But this week at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), he announced ten new features for Leopard, the next version of OS X, most of which will seem more than vaguely familiar to Windows users. I’m not dim: Microsoft does copy Apple on a fairly regular basis. But seriously, Steve. Apple’s just as bad,” Paul Thurrott writes for Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows,

Thurrott writes, “More important, perhaps, is that the new OS X features that Jobs and company announced this week aren’t, by and large, all that impressive. Two of the new features–Time Machine and Spaces–are valuable additions to OS X and worth discussing, though both, interestingly, have been done before in other OSes. The other Leopard features Apple announced, alas, are almost all a complete waste of time. They’re the types of things one might expect of a minor, interim update, or from free Web downloads. They are certainly not major features as Jobs claimed.”

Thurrott writes, “OK, enough Jobs bashing. The guy’s a visionary and truly important presence in the industry, and it will be a sad, sad day when he steps down from his post at Apple and fades into the sunset. (The reality of this possibility seemed all the more real this week. Am I the only one that though Jobs looked oddly gaunt and sickly during the WWDC keynote?) But as I’ve often said of Apple and Jobs: They do good work. It’s too bad they feel the need to exaggerate so much… I have to admit to being a bit shocked by how childish Apple is about Vista. Say what you will about Microsoft (heck, I do), but the company is at least deferential to its customers in public, about as far from smug as is humanly possible, and it very rarely takes pointed shots at the competition. From the opening PC guy video (“Widgets, gadgets… completely different. They are their own thing. Just like Aqua. I mean, uh, Aero.”) to the last moments of the keynote, Jobs and company unleashed a never-ending, tireless diatribe against Microsoft and its upcoming Windows Vista release.”

Thurrott covers the 10 parts of Leopard that Steve Jobs showed – of course, there are “top secret” parts not shown for competitive reasons – and spends a considerable amount of time stating his opinion (no facts get in the way) about which company thought of which idea first in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We agree with Thurrott. No, not with his ludicrous assertion that Apple is “just as bad” about copying Microsoft as Microsoft is about copying Apple; all you need to do is look at the OSes today: Mac’s GUI came first and, thanks to a bad contract by Apple’s lawyers, Windows came later… and keeps coming today, like heartburn. We all use a Mac in one form (the real thing) or another (an upside-down and backwards insecure knock-off) today. It’s plainly obvious to anyone with working eyeballs that, overall, Microsoft is the copier and Apple the originator. And, gasp, yes, Apple does find ideas elsewhere – even from Microsoft ocassionally. The difference is that Apple refines the ideas to make them actually useful and intuitive to people. And, really now, let’s give poor addled Paul a break: he’s been running a website that’s been waiting for something, anything to talk about for half a decade since Windows XP was released (October 2001)!

What we agree with Thurrott about is that Apple needs to relax with the Microsoft jabs.

Note that, unlike Thurrott, we do understand Marketing 101: #1 should not take shots at or even mention #2. #2 is free to pound #1 every chance it gets. For example, you rarely see Coke mention Pepsi, but a lot of what Pepsi does mentions Coke. It would only hurt Coke by elevating Pepsi to a status of being worthy to comment upon and it only helps Pepsi to be constantly associating with and comparing themselves favorably to #1 Coke. So, Apple is executing plays from the basic marketing playbook with their Microsoft attacks.

But, while we Macheads love it all, the rest of the world doesn’t. And Apple doesn’t need to lower themselves either (that’s also why Jobs himself didn’t deliver the main body of the Microsoft zingers in yesterday’s presentation, by the way, he left that seciton to a subordinate). In reality, Apple holds “number one” status already: Mac OS X Tiger is roundly and almost universally acclaimed over Windows XP and what exists of Vista today. Even by Paul Thurrott. Apple may not have number one market share, but they can still take the high road here. People are interested in Macs right now. Only Macs can run Mac OS X and Windows. Nobody else can adequately compete. If Apple would cut the petty sniping, they’d attract a lot more Mac converts much more quickly than they are now. Nobody likes to be told that the last PC for which they paid what they consider to be a good chunk of change is “dull” and equated with a pudgy not-so-bright dork in a yawner of a suit. Just tell them about Mac OS X and leave Windows out of the conversation. A quiet confidence will speak louder than taunts right now. (We can keep taunting to our hearts’ content right here.)

So, Apple, put those WWDC banners in storage, can the wise-ass attitude, and just let the Mac speak for itself. It’s quite capable.

And don’t worry about Leopard. It’s too early to make any judgments. What you saw yesterday was a preview of some features, many of them minor filler, certainly not the whole ball of wax by a longshot. With Leopard, the best is yet to come.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Thurrott: Microsoft collapsing under its own weight, Gates has driven Windows Vista into the ground – April 20, 2006
Thurrott: Microsoft going to get eaten alive over Windows Vista’s resemblance to Apple’s Mac OS X – March 09, 2006


  1. Think for a second, do you really believe that any more than maybe 1% of the population even pays attention to geek developer shows? Apple’s bashing of Microsoft’s photocopying isn’t going to keep them from winning converts. Hell, 99% of the population will never have a clue what WWDC is, much less hear about what happened there.

    The keys are the current Mac TV ad campaign, the iPod craze, and the Apple retail stores. That’s what’s generating the big surge in interest in the Mac right now. Sniping (or not) at Microsoft has no impact on that whatsoever.

  2. Well, copycat or not..

    That was my first reaction on ‘Time Machine’ only Apple does it the right way!!

    There’s copying and bettering ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  3. I disagree with the MDN take. I mean, come on, are we all so sensitive these days that no one can poke fun at someone else? Sheesh. It’s like all the whiners talking about Apple’s Mac/PC commercials. “They’re rude.” “They make fun of people and their computers.”

    So what?! Good grief! Apple has got a lot of pride in their products. Let ’em gloat.

    MW: “instead” as in instead of whining about hurt feelings, make better products.

  4. What exactly is he acusing Apple of copying? Windows has never had anything like Time Machine, that’s for damn sure. Windows XP has a crappy “roll your entire system back to a certain date” feature, but that is laughable compared to Time Machine – which lets to roll back changes at a file/folder level (more like CVS).

  5. “The other Leopard features Apple announced, alas, are almost all a complete waste of time. They’re the types of things one might expect of a minor, interim update, or from free Web downloads.”

    Exactly! Like 64-bit support, for example. Why, just yesterday I downloaded a free Web download that made all my apps 64-bit capapable, and it WAS a waste of time. Firefox doesn’t even display twice as many banner ads now as it did when it was 32 bit!

  6. I agree with the MDN take…mostly. Apple has a better OS and they innovate, but everything that has come out of Apple is not an original idea. Sometimes MDN treats Apple like a divine obelisk on a far-away deserted planet. Heck, the Unix core was a rip off from AT&T. I’m not saying they stole it; it fell under the GNU liscence.

    The computing industry evolves together. This isn’t to say some species are more advanced (various wild felidea) and some are prey (colorful butterflies (MSN))

    Beyond that, I agree that Apple should lay off the Vista jabbs. It makes me feel sorry for those guys in the same way I feel sorry for ten year old suicide bombers.

    MDN magic word: Costs: as in freedom costs the price of sacrifice.

  7. I agree with thelt. You don’t see people freaking out when Ford runs a “our truck can out-tow any Chevy” (or whatever) ads. There is nothing wrong with saying that you have a better product, it’s the essence of capitalism.

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