June 13, 2007
Vista Has Caught Up with Leopard? Ummm...
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In my post on Leopard yesterday, I noted that the idea of hiding the "top secret" Leopard features from Microsoft seemed a bit silly because the new ones Jobs introduced seemed minimally similar to some Windows details from Windows 98, XP, and Vista. Specifically, I noted the transparent menu bar, basing a window viewing paradigm on a pre-existing media program, and document previews in icons. I am fairly sure, however, that I conveyed the limited way that these features resembled what was in Vista. Not that Vista had these features already, but that there were shades of the features in Windows; not that Apple was copying Vista, but that Microsoft already knew about a few of the design elements and had integrated them in Vista to a different or lesser degree.
Well, some person with a tech blog at ZDNet had the same idea, but combined a certain cluelessness about OS technology and ignorance about when things have been released, and combined that with the act of taking a weak idea to a ridiculous extreme. Essentially they are suggesting that Leopard is both copying and playing catch-up with Vista.
I know it's kind of like picking a fight with someone you know you can wipe the floor with, but (a) I felt there was enough of a connection with what I wrote yesterday that I should clarify my own take on the idea, (b) this person has a blog on a noted tech site and many will take her seriously, and (c) it's fun.
Here are the ten points Foley, the ZDNet blogger, made about how Vista is "pretty darn up-to-date" with Leopard:
1. New Leopard Desktop: Not a whole lot different from Vista’s Aero and Sidebar.First of all, she seems to be comparing the Dock with Sidebar. What would a car aficionado say about someone who can't tell a steering wheel from a tire writing car reviews?
She is apparently basing the comparison with Aero wholly on the fact that Apple's menu bar is semi-transparent, which Vista window frames are also. This is like saying that a beat-up old Chevy is like a new, top-of-the-line Mercedes because they both have the same color paint. As I noted, the eye-candy transparency is irrelevant. The Dock is what puts the Mac's OS way ahead of Vista, and though most of the new Dock features are also eye candy, there is nothing in Vista to match the functionality of the Dock. Stacks may be simply a nicer way of viewing a pop-up menu from the Dock, but I don't see Vista giving you the same functionality that Mac users take for granted in this years-old technology.
In essence, Foley only noted that the new additions to the Desktop kind of reminded her of the style used in Vista, while ignoring (or being ignorant of) the pre-existing technology in OS X that the Mac has had for years but Vista still hasn't caught up with.
2. New Finder: Many of the same capabilities as the integrated “Instant Search” in Vista (the subsystem that Google is trying to get the Department of Justice to rule as being anti-competitive). The new Leopard Coverflow viewing capability looked almost identical to Vista’s Flip 3D to me.Ummm... where do you start? First of all, Spotlight has been in the Mac OS since Tiger came out more than two years ago; Vista was a latecomer to the game, and even copied Apple's graphic layout for the feature, right down to the search icon.
CoverFlow is a pre-existing iTunes feature, and is similar to Flip 3D like an accelerator is to a brake. Flip 3D is a poor copy of Apple's Exposé; it is unavailable in the Vista Basic versions, only shows windows, not files, and does so in a much more limited way. CoverFlow is a file-viewing paradigm created more than two years ago by a Mac developer and was purchased by Apple and implemented into iTunes four months before the public release of Vista.
3. QuickLook: Live file previews — just like the thumbnail preview capability available in Vista.As I noted in my post yesterday, QuickLook leaves Vista far behind. Both Mac and Windows have been offering file previews in icon views in limited fashions for a few years now. For a while, Windows had a slight advantage because XP's icons would preview some text documents and web pages in addition to the image and movie icon views that both operating systems were able to preview. But that was the limit for anyone--a small icon preview. In fact, the Mac OS had the upper hand on Windows in one respect for a while because it was able to preview movies in real-time without opening an app, something Windows caught up with in Vista a few years after the Mac had it.
QuickLook leaves both Vista and Tiger in the dust. Not only has it enhanced icon previews which beat out Vista, but it allows you to view almost any document full-size and viewing all pages and slides without opening the app that created it first. Vista can't even come close to that.
4. 64-bitness: Leopard is the first 64-bit only version of a desktop client. Vista comes in 32-bit and 64-bit varieties. And most expect Windows Seven will still be available in 32-bit flavors. Until 32-bit machines go away, it seems like a good idea to offer 32-bit operating systems.Foley apparently wasn't listening when Jobs made the crystal clear point that Leopard integrated both 64-bit and 32-bit into the same OS. Hell, Jobs even did a demo showing both kinds of apps running side by side in Leopard. Foley must have been out buying nachos at the time, or else was snoozing during the demo, and later jumped to conclusions about the "64" icons she saw.
Here, Leopard is clearly superior. Just like Leopard doesn't have differently-priced "Home," "Business," "Premium," "Enterprise," or "Ultimate" versions, it also does not have separate 32- and 64-bit versions. Everything comes in one package for one price--and that price is about equal to the lowest-priced upgrade version of Vista.
5. Core animation: Not sure what the Vista comparison is here. The demo reminded me of Microsoft Max photo-sharing application. The WWDC developers attending the Jobs keynote didn’t seem wowed with this functionality.It might help to have even the slightest clue about what Core Animation actually is. Foley is comparing a graphic engine built in to the OS with some photo-viewing app that she thought resembled the sample program that Jobs ran to highlight what Core Animation could do. How many times can I repeat the word "clueless" before it gets too repetitive?
6. Boot Camp. You can run Vista on your Mac. Apple showed Vista running Solitaire in its WWDC demo. But I bet those downloading the 2.5 million copies of Boot Camp available since last year are running a lot of other Windows business apps and games.Okay... so Foley is saying that Windows Vista has caught up with the Mac OS because Mac users are able to use tons of Windows apps? What exactly is Foley trying to prove here about Vista and Leopard? She apparently is bothered that Jobs took a jab at Windows by suggesting, jokingly, that Solitaire is a big reason why you might want to run Windows on your Mac. So first, can't Foley recognize a joke when she sees one, and second, how does the Mac's ability to run Windows apps make Vista seem "up-to-date" with Leopard?
7. Spaces: A feature allowing users to group applications into separate spaces. I haven’t seen anything like in in Vista, but the audience didn’t seem overly impressed by it.Foley did note that this was only her second Mac keynote, and the other was in 2002. OS apparently she was not aware that Spaces was introduced ten months ago, which is why nobody was wowed by it--they saw it long ago, and as developers, have been using it for about as long. If Bill Gates demoed Internet Explorer 7 to a Windows crowd today, he'd get the same reaction.
But the interesting point here, as with point #6, is that Foley seem to have forgotten her thesis statement, that Leopard looks like Vista. Saying that a new feature in Leopard, which does not exist in Vista, did not excite the crowd does not support that thesis very well.
In any case, Spaces did wow the crowd 10 months ago, is a great feature, and does not exist in Vista.
And by the way, Foley writes a tech blog which focuses on Microsoft on a tech web site, and she says stuff like "I haven’t seen anything like in in Vista" as if it might be in Vista but she hasn't found it yet?
8. Dashboard with widgets. Isn’t this like the Vista Sidebar with gadgets?Oy.
Okay. First off, Dashboard, like Spotlight, has been around for two years--Sidebar with Gadgets is a shameless copy of Dashboard with widgets. (Okay, granted, Dashboard is a shameless rip-off of Konfabulator. Still.) Second, Jobs was showing how you can make your own widgets either dead-simple with Web Clip, or more professionally but still very easily with DashCode. As far as I know, Sidebar gadget development is still only something that professionals can handle, while it looks like non-programmers like me would be able to handle DashCode--and anybody's grandmother could probably master Web Clip in a few minute's time.
9. iChat gets a bunch of fun add-ons (photo-booth effects, backrops, etc.) to make it a more fully-featured videoconferencing product. The “iChat Theater” capability Jobs showed off reminded me of Vista’s Meeting Space and/or the new Microsoft “Shared View” (code-named “Tahiti”) document-sharing/conferencing subsystems.iChat is an app that primarily is for consumers, not business people, but integrates the features Foley is talking about easily into one app--whereas Microsoft seems to have it partitioned out into several different apps. Microsoft does have an advantage as far as making it business-friendly, but not in terms of making it user-friendly. I checked out the "SharedView" app, and while it allows for collaborative document sharing, it is still an early beta and does not as yet include integrated audio or even text chat features. For that, you have to use a separate chat program or pick up a telephone. So even including separate Windows apps not integrated into the OS, Vista is not exactly "caught up" with Leopard.
10. Time Machine automatic backup. Vista has built-in automatic backup (Volume Shadow Copy). It doesn’t look anywhere near as cool as Time Machine. But it seems to provide a lot of the same functionality.But that's the difference, isn't it--the Mac OS, even when it provides the same basic feature, makes it much more easy and fun to use. Both a beat-up old Chevy and a new, top-of-the-line Mercedes Benz will get you from home to the mall and back--but which one would you want to drive?
Seriously, ZDNet out to review whether or not they want someone who does such shoddy reporting to have a blog on their site. It's pretty embarrassing.
Posted by: Anonymous at June 29, 2007 04:01 PM