I just sat through my second Steve Jobs keynote ever. (My first was MacWorld in New York in 2002.)
What struck me at the June 11 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) event wasn't the glitzy demos, the rockstar-like worship of Apple CEO Steve Jobs or the "I'm Steve Jobs" parody video by the "I'm a PC" guy.
Instead, it was the excitement by the 5,000 WWDC attendees about many technologies in the forthcoming Mac OS X "Leopard" release that already exist in Windows Vista.
A few Mac-show regulars said they thought today's WWDC audience wasn't as engaged and enthused as Apple's developers and customers normally are for a Jobs love-fest. Some said they thought developers were let down by Jobs' failure to discuss the geekier bits, like Leopard's use of the ZFS file system. others thought the crowd was subdued because they wanted more iPhone particulars and were let down by the lack of an iPhone software development kit. (Jobs told developers they could simply use existing Ajax and Web 2.0 development technologies to write to Safari, since the Safari engine inside the iPhone will be identical to the one for Mac OS X today.)
To this Windows-show veteran, however, the WWDC developer audience seemed positvely effusive.
I've sat through countless Microsoft demos of Vista at a variety of consumer and business events. I don't remember ever hearing thunderous applause when Microsoft showed off Flip 3D or Vista's ability to preview thumbnails of documents. The "wows" were few and far between. Yet when Jobs put almost identical versions of these features in Leopard through their paces, there were lots of oohs and ahhs.
But if you've seen Vista, there's no way you could help but compare the feature-complete Leopard beta Jobs showcased with Windows Vista. And -- surprise -- Vista looked pretty darn up-to-date in comparison.
Jobs told WWDC keynoters that he would show ten of the best of the 300 new features coming in Leopard when it ships in October this year. Here's what Jobs' hit list looked like to this Windows user:
1. New Leopard Desktop: Not a whole lot different from Vista's Aero and Sidebar.
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.
3. QuickLook: Live file previews -- just like the thumbnail preview capability available in Vista.
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.
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.
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.
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.
8. Dashboard with widgets. Isn't this like the Vista Sidebar with gadgets?
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.
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.
Granted, I am not an Apple user. So I'm sure I'm glossing over some subtleties regarding what's new and cool in Leopard. But given how often I hear the "Redmond, Start Your Photocopiers" message, I was thinking that Leopard would be light years ahead of Vista.
So, Apple folks: What am I missing? I'm not trying to pull a Dvorak here and use this blog post for click bait. Why is Leopard so superior to Vista -- other than the non-trivial fact that there will be just one version of Leopard that will be priced at $129 (as opposed to six-plus versions of Vista at a variety of price points well in excess of that amount)?
Update: And before you flame me for saying Apple copied Microsoft (which I didn't, if you go back and reread this post), you might want to check up my second attempt to get Mac users to submit some features in Leopard that you believe will leapfrog those found in Vista.