Microsoft exec says Win7 borrows from OS X, Microsoft disagrees

Sometimes, you just can’t help sticking your foot in your mouth. In an interview with British site PCR yesterday, Microsoft Partners Group Manager Simon Aldous did just that by saying the Windows team had taken cues from Apple’s Mac OS X when designing Windows 7. He went so far as to say Microsoft tried to "create a Mac look and feel in terms of graphics."

Aldous made that claim when asked whether Windows 7 really was a "more agile operating system." Here’s his complete response:

The interesting thing is, it’s basically the next version of Vista. Vista was a totally redesigned operating system from XP. We’ve improved upon Vista in that way. We’ve stripped out a lot of the code, we’ve made a lot of it much more efficient, it sits on a smaller footprint, it operates far more quickly, it’s far more agile and effective in terms of the calls it makes. I saw an article recently that described it as ‘Vista on steroids’, and in some ways you can absolutely relate to that.
One of the things that people say an awful lot about the Apple Mac is that the OS is fantastic, that it’s very graphical and easy to use. What we’ve tried to do with Windows 7 – whether it’s traditional format or in a touch format – is create a Mac look and feel in terms of graphics. We’ve significantly improved the graphical user interface, but it’s built on that very stable core Vista technology, which is far more stable than the current Mac platform, for instance.

The Windows team was not amused, to say the least. Brandon LeBlanc of the Windows Team Blog discredited Aldous’ statement the same day, saying the executive "was not involved in any aspect of designing Windows 7" and calling his comments "inaccurate and uninformed."

Today, PCR received a more official response from Microsoft, which says Aldous "was incorrect" and "subsequent headlines claiming that the Mac OS inspired Windows 7 are totally inaccurate." The response adds:

Over nine out of ten computer users choose Windows. Over the years, hundreds of millions of Windows users have given us great feedback and we have derived great insight about User Interface (UI) design. The Windows 7 UI was designed to make computers simpler to use and to take advantage of new and innovative technologies Microsoft is bringing to market. One example of this is the multi-touch support in Windows 7, which is not supported by the Mac OS.

Windows 7 and the latest version of Mac OS so have many differences, of course. There’s the multi-touch support, the Libraries feature, Aero Peek, for example, which have no direct equivalents on the Mac side for now. Windows Explorer also behaves in fundamentally different ways from the OS X Finder, exposing more features and options to the end user.

The two operating system still have a number of similarities, though. One prime example: the Windows 7 taskbar, which looks and behaves not unlike the Snow Leopard Dock, providing an avenue both to launch programs and to get an overview of their windows through big, friendly-looking icons without labels. As we noted in our Windows 7 review, Microsoft has also included more robust backup features in the consumer-oriented Home Premium edition of Win7, possibly to counter OS X’s Time Machine feature.

Comments closed
    • Welch
    • 13 years ago

    Who cares if its the user CHOOSES it per say….. a more accurate (although not perfectly accurate) statement from Microsoft would have been

    “9 out of 10 computers use Windows”….

    Lets not forget about the 2 or 3 year olds with kiddy learning software on windows.. can’t count them, they aren’t old enough to truely make that decision to CHOOSE windows.

    Stop worry about semantics, we get the point, more people use windows over Mac… period.. duh.

    Point being of this article is whether or not Aldous had any right saying it.. Microsoft is saying NO.. why would we bother making ourselves look like something that we beat out 9 to 10. Their particular statement didn’t in any way make me want to buy their OS anymore than I did before.

    • Kharnellius
    • 13 years ago

    What? I’m sorry but the exact opposite is true. That is why street signs use pictures and more importantly specific shapes for each type of sign. Also why interfaces typically use symbols, shapes, or graphically representations instead of words.

    Take a look at your remote.

    Why does every company have a logo?

    Why does every sports team have some sort of image on every piece of apparel?

    Even your Xbox controller uses color coding and single letter representations. Not entire words or phrases.

    Humans are very visual and have been using symbols long before words even existed. It’s burned into our psyche.

    • moshpit
    • 13 years ago

    No, YOU’RE the one who’s wrong. Net stats only tracks internet traffic to specific sites and in fact the odds are NOT 9 out of 10, they are much closer to 19 out of 20. Apple only broke 5% recently since the scam they ran trying to call iPhone OS and iPod as OSX market share, got busted cold and their numbers were cut in half.

    • blastdoor
    • 13 years ago

    Man, I wouldn’t call it semi-reasonable… I’d call it a hollow, soul-crushing, ironic joke.

    • sreams
    • 13 years ago

    90% and 100% aren’t the only choices here. When the number is 92.5%, that’s more than 9 out of 10 (but less than 10 out of ten).

    • Flying Fox
    • 13 years ago

    How do you explain the wide acceptance of toolbars and icon only “buttons” on the toolbars way back in Windows 3.1?

    • d0g_p00p
    • 13 years ago

    Just testing my password on my new build. But I’ll comment, seems like more MS bashing and “hey MS copied Apple again BS” get over it. Both companies gain ideas from each other. Same as when AMD and Intel both moved to dual core CPU’s and how movie studios seem to have the same movie with different titles during the summer season.

    These types of topics are what bring the fanboys out in numbers. I’ll bet adisor19 wuill be in the first 5 comments

    edit: sure enough.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 13 years ago

    If all you do with Spaces is look at thumbnails…well, you’re doing it wrong.

    Between Aero Peek, Flip 3D, and thumbnails, though, you do get a semi-reasonable approximation of Expose, but it’s certainly not virtual desktop.

    • Byte Storm
    • 13 years ago

    Actually, it IS an accurate statement. Since Windows market share is over 90%, then that indicates “more than 9 out of 10” (I love numbers). Not only that, but people DO have to choose what OS they want.

    If they want Windows, they choose from a multitude of options.

    If they want OSX, they choose from a rather limited but stylish selection.

    If they want Linux, they more than likely built their own computer.

    So you see, the customers do indeed choose Windows. Be it out of refusal to switch from what they know, or they *GASP* actually like Windows.

    BTW, lack of choice of OS within the Dell/Gateway/Acer/etc. market isn’t really Microsoft’s fault. Apple is the one refusing to sell there OS separate, as they are going for an experience. Oh and Linux is too complex to properly utilize for MOST people, so not so many PC Makers will offer it.

    • CampinCarl
    • 13 years ago

    Because he’s talking in whole numbers but referring to numbers that contain fractions, the statement makes perfect sense.

    • blastdoor
    • 13 years ago

    That is nothing like spaces…

    • internetsandman
    • 13 years ago

    Umm…isn’t *[

    • eitje
    • 13 years ago
    • Sanctusx2
    • 13 years ago

    There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with acknowledging a competitor’s talents. It sounds like all he’s saying is that a lot of people like Apple’s slick GUI(which is true) and they wanted to mimic that success. I don’t see the problem, who wouldn’t want to gain a more competitive advantage in an area your previous product was weak in?

    Seems like the media just couldn’t help but blow this out of proportion: omg Win7 is an OSX clone!

    • SNM
    • 13 years ago

    You mean like the entire user interface?
    I mean, you can call OS X an open-source polish job if you like but there are a lot more much worse copy jobs out there and I’m not sure how that’d really be a criticism. It’s pretty clear that the part of OS X that makes it sell is the “polish” since otherwise desktop linux adoption would be an order of magnitude larger than it is.

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 13 years ago

    Yea, everything? Is it just a re-branded Unix?

    • wira020
    • 13 years ago

    Well, many people use unlicensed windows.. china is overran by pirated windows and so is most country in south east asia… and i hvent found any pirated mac osx yet… maybe cause i wont work with usual hardware..

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 13 years ago

    I understood your point. It is mostly likely cuz those machines ran better on Windows and was more user-friendly? Sounds like a smart business plan.

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 13 years ago

    And the g-[

    • TheShadowself
    • 13 years ago

    But is the user *[

    • TheShadowself
    • 13 years ago

    My point is that many, many copies of Windows (and to a much lesser extent for other OSes too) are chosen *[

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 13 years ago

    If you use a point-of-sale system that uses Windows, you are therefore a Windows User! Sorry, sir.

    • Sunburn74
    • 13 years ago

    If you buy a retail or oem copy of windows anything, you are choosing windows. Both pc and macs choose windows. Not sure what your point is…

    • Scrotos
    • 13 years ago

    Hey, this is topical and funny!

    §[<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QdGt3ix2CQ<]§ Ah, that video slays me!

    • TheShadowself
    • 13 years ago

    /[<"Over nine out of ten computer users choose Windows.Over nine out of ten computer users choose Windows."<]/ Wrong. Over nine out of ten licenses for computer OSes is Windows. That does not equate to computer users. Licenses sold include such non user specific devices as kiosks and point of sale systems. No one knows the percentage of individual users that chose Windows or any other OS. Anyone who claims otherwise is just blowing smoke (or is it smoking something -- maybe both!). This BS statement is pure marketing speak intended to cover over another piece of marketing speak that they may or may not be true. Microsoft should just refute the bad statements and not make statements that people know is just marketing hype.

    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 13 years ago

    Is there anything Mac OSX did that wasn’t taken from the open source community and polished up?

    • fredsnotdead
    • 13 years ago

    “We’ve improved upon Vista in that way. We’ve stripped out a lot of the code, we’ve made a lot of it much more efficient, it sits on a smaller footprint, it operates far more quickly, it’s far more agile and effective in terms of the calls it makes.”

    Someone should ask Brandon LeBlanc if that part of Aldous’ statement is also BS.

    • indeego
    • 13 years ago

    [citation neededg{<.<}g]

    • DreadCthulhu
    • 13 years ago

    Am I the only one who doesn’t like the icon only default setting in Windows 7? We all (at least in western countries) learn at young age how to interpret text quickly; little pictures not so much. At least it can be changed; Window’s ability to be customized to fit individual preferences is way ahead of Mac OS X.

    • SNM
    • 13 years ago

    Supposedly auto manufacturers have tried this before, and while once you learn to use it it’s a much better way to drive absolutely no one they test it on takes the time to learn; they try once and fail miserably and move on to another car.

    • potatochobit
    • 13 years ago

    when you have applications open on your little task bar and hover over them you get a mini box that pops up showing all your open windows
    that is exactly like spaces when u tab through them

    • Sargent Duck
    • 13 years ago

    I want the PS2 remote option that they had in MiB II. Of course, I can’t stand the PS2 controller, so I’ll swap it for the xbox 360 controller.

    Walt, although I agree with your post on almost all points, I don’t think the market has rejected OSX based on the GUI. The fact that all PC’s are sold with Windows, that all business applications run on Windows and that people can continue to run their 12+ year old scanner on Windows I think has more to do than the GUI of OSX.

    • ManAtVista
    • 13 years ago

    Good points, and pretty much spot on. As far as Windows 7 taskbar being like the Mac OS X dock, MS has gone over this in blog posts, and said the idea came from Windows 1.0, which had a very similar look with icons of running programs represented at the bottom of the screen.

    • Jigar
    • 13 years ago

    Adi should be all over the place today… Joy times for you mate. 😛

    • derFunkenstein
    • 13 years ago

    eh? Win7 has no virtual desktop…

    • eitje
    • 13 years ago

    I’d prefer a pilot stick in my car.

    • potatochobit
    • 13 years ago

    when I first used windows 7 the first thing I said is this is just like using Spaces on my Macbook Pro.

    • WaltC
    • 13 years ago

    How embarrassing. The guy wasn’t in any way involved in the design and creation of the Win7 GUI and yet he proceeds to speak as if he personally was steering the whole thing inside the company. Hate to say it, but I doubt he’ll be up for promotion any time soon…;)

    As far as GUI’s go, there are always going to be similarities between them because of the nature of what a GUI is–it’s point-and-click on graphics, basically, instead of text-based navigation. Ever wondered why steering wheels in automobiles look so much alike? Or tires? Or seats, etc., ad infinitum? It’s because there’s only so many ways you can build a car that will function as it should–not because the auto manufacturers sit around saying, “Oh, look! That car uses round steering wheels and tires! How cool! Let’s copy them!”

    Lastly, the market shares of the Vista or XP versions of Windows respectively *each* dwarf the entire share held by OS X. Why would Microsoft seek to actively copy something in an OS that the vast majority of computer users reject? I don’t think that’s likely–in fact, it is far more likely that OS X would copy Windows because Windows is so much more popular than OS X. But we rarely get into that aspect of things, do we?

    I think that in any GUI interface in a current OS there are going to be similarities of form that are completely coincidental because of the functions an OS is expected by consumers to provide. I think that secretly both camps look at the other guy’s OS and say, “Look at that! That’s nice! How could we integrate that sort of functionality but do it better ourselves?” That I think is the extent of the “copying” that goes on, and I am certain that neither company has a patent on that sort of imitation.

    • flip-mode
    • 13 years ago

    Cue another annoying “switch” ad in 3… 2… 1…

    • adisor19
    • 13 years ago

    Seriously. Wonder how soon he’ll get “moved to a new position” 😉

    Adi

    • eitje
    • 13 years ago

    I’ll be keeping an eye on Simon’s linkedin. 😉

    • DrDillyBar
    • 13 years ago

    Marketing: Messing stuff up, one conversation at a time.

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