pwned

by Kieran Healy on January 7, 2006

Microsoft showcased the new features of Windows Vista (due for release late 2006) at CES. Some people got a sense of deja vu, so they took the Microsoft keynote speech and matched the audio demoing the new features to video from elsewhere. So now Windows users can see what exciting, innovative, ground-breaking features are coming in the areas of the user interface, and smart search technologies.

{ 25 comments }

1

Eszter 01.07.06 at 4:58 pm

On a related note, I liked this photo’s title.

2

cesperugo 01.07.06 at 4:58 pm

Rumours about Bill Gates being pwned are greatly exaggerated. And will be for as long as Mr. Gates has a large stake in a dominant company propagating its dominance by means of selling self-enforcing courses that have long past become mandatory for IT staff, who now in turn have a large stake in MS.

3

foo 01.07.06 at 5:36 pm

Pwned indeed!

Microsoft truly stands in stark contrast to Apple, a company that is helmed by a man who would never get up on a stage and make ridiculous claims about yet-to-be-released technology that was pioneered by a completely different company.

*Ahem*. Of course, the same could be said of any computer company.

So what, after all, is the pwnage in this? Pot, kettle, etc?

4

anno-nymous 01.07.06 at 6:14 pm

Foo,
Microsoft is being made fun of not for its “ridiculous claims about yet-to-be-released technology”, but because Apple beat it to these claims years in advance. All of these amazing features of the long-delayed Vista can already be found running in the latest version of Mac OS.

5

Iron Lungfish 01.07.06 at 6:17 pm

Let me get this straight. When Microsoft doesn’t adopt the popular features embraced by its technological rivals (Firefox, Opera, etc.), it’s a backwards dinosaur that’s only managing to survive through sheer monopolistic power. But when it does adopt the popular features embraced by its technological rivals (OSX), it’s a shameful cheat that’s stealing ideas from the Little Guy.

Does this dogma also apply to Apple’s rather queasy relationship to the mp3 player market, where it has been consistently a day late, a dollar short, and consistently trumpeting its innovation and dominance over companies and products who had the goods before they did? For that matter, does it apply to the Mac OS itself, which for years was plagued with nightmarish stability issues until Apple decided to swipe from UNIX?

If Apple’s features are all that good, then the system is working: Microsoft is being compelled to produce a better product by taking a look at what their competition is doing, just like every other software company in America does.

6

Iron Lungfish 01.07.06 at 6:25 pm

anno-nymous,

I’m assuming that the same people making fun of Microsoft for its “ridiculous claims about yet-to-be-released technology” also ridiculed Apple for its video iPod?

7

TheDeadlyShoe 01.07.06 at 6:55 pm

Lungfish points out one of my favorite points.

However, the video was pretty funny :) :)

I would make one criticism – I don’t think the alt-tab bit in Tiger is 100% comparable with Flip 3d.

One of the most interesting bits about Vista is probably the “External Memory Devices”, which is where you plug in a device on a USB port and the system uses it as sort of a super virtual memory.

Also the funky “Sideshow” bit, which is something for laptops and the like. The idea is that laptop manufacturers build an external PDA-like interface on the laptops, and then people can access their calendar and things like that without opening their laptop and turning it on.

8

Nitish 01.07.06 at 7:06 pm

Lungfish (and thedeadlyshoe?),

It’s not that people object to Microsoft adopting features from Apple, Opera, or Firefox. What’s annoying is that they often claim such features are “exciting, innovative, and ground-breaking”. Tabbed browsing, for example, may have been innovative years ago, but it certainly won’t be by the time Microsoft finally supports it in Internet Explorer.

9

Daniel 01.07.06 at 8:23 pm

the thing about this is that whatever Microsoft does, it always has the advantage that Apple is common.

10

Kieran Healy 01.07.06 at 9:19 pm

the thing about this is that whatever Microsoft does, it always has the advantage that Apple is common.

I think you misspelled “there five or ten years earlier” at the end of that sentence.

11

Maynard Handley 01.08.06 at 2:32 am


When Microsoft doesn’t adopt the popular features embraced by its technological rivals (Firefox, Opera, etc.), it’s a backwards dinosaur that’s only managing to survive through sheer monopolistic power. But when it does adopt the popular features embraced by its technological rivals (OSX), it’s a shameful cheat that’s stealing ideas from the Little Guy.

Interesting. You omit the option of MS actually coming up with something original on its own. Is there a reason for that?

For what it’s worth, the technically literate are perfectly willing to give MS its due, when that is deserved. There are some very nice low-level features in NT (for example the way a user can snapshot the filesystem), and of course NT is way more scalable than MacOS X. COM/DCOM/COM+ had some really nice ideas in it before it collapsed of its own weight, and .NET likewise has some very nice ideas.
The problem is, as people have said
(1) There are precious few UI features from MS that anyone else (technically literate or otherwise) thinks worthy of respect.
(2) MS, much more so than other companies, tries to pretend that everything they do is original when it is stunningly clearly not. This speech is an example, but it’s hardly alone. I remember a speech about MS Virtual Earth than went on for 45 minutes not once acknowledging the existence of Google Earth. This sort of denial borders on pathological.

12

abb1 01.08.06 at 4:40 am

Mysterious workings of the Almighty Marketing…

13

foo 01.08.06 at 10:10 am

“Microsoft is being made fun of not for its “ridiculous claims about yet-to-be-released technology”, but because Apple beat it to these claims years in advance. All of these amazing features of the long-delayed Vista can already be found running in the latest version of Mac OS.”

Anno-nymous — I think you missed the point of my comment… the reason the claims are ‘ridiculous’ is that someone like Gates called them ‘innovative’ when they’re already on display in MacOS X; in other words, exactly your point.

I’m not disputing the whole “prior art” thing here. And god knows, I love me some Mac: OS X was an infinite improvement over what came before (granted, it shared only a name with what came before) — I’m just pointing out that every company does stuff like this.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. Steal (or “improve,” whatever) other people’s ideas, and call it ‘innovative’, I don’t care — it’s good for the rest of us.

What’s laughable here is (a) the notion of the ‘Apple partisan’, and (b) the belief that some of them have, that somehow, someone like Gates is guilty of something like this but that someone like Steve Jobs should be walking around with a snow-white conscience. Or something.

I mean, I like reading Kieran Healy.. but does he honestly think that all these UI features, which MS is so slowly copying, were all originally developed by Apple? Or that the situation is never reversed? Has he never seen Steve Jobs get up at a mac expo and gush about a “new, innovative” feature of the new macs which someone like Microsoft has already been selling for 5+ years?

Is all I’m saying.

14

Slocum 01.08.06 at 11:15 am

Shrug. There are plenty of good file-indexing / desktop search options already (MS, Google, Copernic). Maybe the built in Vista feature will be an improvement, maybe not. And the new UI engine — I’m kind of dreading that (as a rule, I hate pointless twisting, rotating, inflating, shrinking and fading).

As for the issue of copying features in general, that works in both directions (fast user switching, multi-button scroll mice, Media Center facilities — assuming Apple gets around to adding them eventually). MS’s promiscuity in borrowing ideas is a good thing (provided, of course, they’re not infringing patents) — and it’s preferable to Apple’s periodic bouts of ‘not invented here’ stubborness — as in the case of mice and, going farther back, CDR drives and DVD recordable formats. Apple has, after all, gradually copied all of the elements of the ‘Wintel’ hardware design–now to the point where new Macs are going to be modified PC-clones (to develop software for the coming Intel-based Macs, you run Mac OS on a standard Intel box).

15

Eric H 01.08.06 at 1:35 pm

Slocum – right. I’ve switched to using Open Office, Mozilla, and Google’s tools. The innovations are coming too fast for the corporations to do anything but buy them after they’ve been proven.

I remember a Mac enthusiast friend of mine used to make fun of the Ctrl and Alt buttons on my keyboard. “**We** don’t *need* *those*,” he said. He never understood my amusement at the propeller button whose name he didn’t know, or at the old-fashioned, single-button mouse. One time I asked him how to turn his off because I couldn’t find the CPU (oddly, he had his – what do you call it? sculpture? functional art? – under a towel), to which he sniffed that “Apples have the power button on the front, where it belongs.” Fine, wive la difference and all that, but where is the box? Y’know, the box you paid an extra thousand for so you could boast about having features you never use?

He owns a Dell today, front panel power button and all. It is possible to do too much “original” work. Lisa. Newton.

16

Eric H 01.08.06 at 1:36 pm

“wive”, “vive”, whatever

17

oldtree 01.08.06 at 2:03 pm

what exactly is the point? hasn’t just about everything been borrowed by ms from apple? why can’t they make what they steal function? that is the weird part.
no virus, no spyware, no adware. that has been going on since the 90’s. but that part they can’t steal?

18

Kieran Healy 01.08.06 at 2:08 pm

Next week I’ll post something on vi versus emacs.

19

foo 01.08.06 at 5:02 pm

That’d be awesome. If you vote for emacs, then the terrorists have already won.

20

nick s 01.08.06 at 10:56 pm

One distinction between OS X and Vista is that Gates is touting features that may (or may not) end up in an OS release that may (or may not) appear some time this year. When Jobs does announce features, they’re pretty much ready to ship (bugs and all). Much of what was initially promised for Vista won’t be delivered. And by the time Vista ships, another update to OS X will be either here or nearly here. What will be in it? You’ll have to visit the rumour sites that Apple hasn’t sued.

But Microsoft has survived the last few years, at least on the OS front, by promising jam tomorrow. XP is looking very very hoary right now: remember when it was released? 2001. No, really. Nearly five years ago. I really don’t give a shit if Bill’s dev-team rips off Apple; in fact, I would welcome it if it means that Microsoft would actually ship product.

One of the most interesting bits about Vista is probably the “External Memory Devices”, which is where you plug in a device on a USB port and the system uses it as sort of a super virtual memory.

It certainly makes me wonder how many flash keydrives have the read-write cycles to cope.

21

Richard J 01.09.06 at 8:11 am

And by the time Vista ships, another update to OS X will be either here or nearly here.

And four updates at about one hundred quid a pop is how much?

22

nick s 01.09.06 at 8:31 am

And four updates at about one hundred quid a pop is how much?

As opposed to the wasted days spent reinstalling XP when (inevitably) the registry cruds out, or a virus creeps through? Bargain.

23

theCoach 01.09.06 at 9:41 am

For what it is worth, the graphical system in Vista is a bit of leapfrog over Apple’s quartz.

Maynard is mostly right about, but seems to leave out the innovations in Vista – WPF (Avalon) is a very interesting development in UI development, and XAML is also an interesting part of that. As for the new UI, we have not seen it yet, but the crucial part, really, is taht advanced UI development will be enabled with this new technology (and probably abused, at least for a while).

24

Mike 01.09.06 at 11:39 am

Maynard, what the technically literate know about UI design can be written on the back of a very small postage stamp. Look at either Gnome or KDE, and you will quickly notice this. While you are there, you will also notice that they’ve been busy ripping off Microsoft and Apple for the last few years, albeit poorly. OUTRAGEOUS!!1! Mac zealots are pissed that Microsoft is dominant with an allegedly inferior product, but after failing to have a point other than “Mac rulez!”, they fall back to the noble “Oh, we’re really just concerned that Microsoft is misleading the public.” Seriously, is this issue all about companies overhyping their products at CES? Oh my heavens! Who gives a shit? You’d have to be seriously delusional to believe that people are choosing Windows XP over a Mac because Microsoft stretches the truth a bit at a technology conference. Unlike Microsoft’s anti-Linux FUD, which IT decision makers do use to justify their choices.

25

james stevenson 01.09.06 at 9:53 pm

I’m looking forward to is the release of IE 7. There’ve been no major improvements to Internet Explorer since 2001 and it’s really showing it’s age. Lousy CSS support, non-standard DOM implementation, alternative javascript methods and behaviors that deliver only fraction of the power and flexibility of the ECMA-standard…the list goes on and on and it’s an increasing source of frustration to be forced to accomodate all of this in developing a front-end for web apps. Of course we’ll still be stuck supporting IE 6 for years (still suporting IE 5.0 to this day, in fact) but at least it’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

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