Leopard looks like ... Vista

Leopard looks like ... Vista

Summary: What struck me at the June 11 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference keynote 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.

TOPICS: Windows, Apple, Microsoft

I just sat through my second Steve Jobs keynote ever. (My first was MacWorld in New York in 2002.)

wwdc-001.jpgWhat 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.

Topics: Windows, Apple, Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • But....

    Yeah, I sat through several presentations of Vista where all the new features of Vista were already present in 10.4. You have your chicken before your egg there. Apple released the details of many of those features over a year and a half ago before Vista appeared in it's final form. In fact right about the time that Vista was delayed the last time.
    • Tiger ripped Longhorn

      But then if you go back further Tiger had alot of features announced for Longhorn back at PDC 2003
      • LongHorn?

        Yeah but all the stuff in Longhorn was in 10.2

        You guys really take the cake.

        Windows 95 = Macintosh 88 It goes back that far!
        • Spotlight was in 10.2?

          Was Expose in 10.2? Where widgets in 10.2? Where smart folders in 10.2?

          Index based searching, the sidebar, search folders, flip 3d where all in longhorn.
          • Message has been deleted.

          • Message has been deleted.

          • What a foolish thing to be so passionate about

            Vista, XP, OS X, OS 9...

            Microsoft was before Apple who was before Microsoft...

            No one really cares about the pissing matches except the lawyers...

            I hope both of them are smart enough to incorporate the others successes, otherwise the consumer is short changed.

            I think the jist of this article is that Leopard has no new trinkets to add to the mix this turn...
          • Nice argument, Mac-ist! :D <nt>

          • I Stand...

            Corrected, Spotlight is new in Tiger. Wasn't in the Longhorn beta versions I tested. But I stopped testing them before the ctp.
          • Longhorn was not an operating system

            Longhorn was vapor ware. Mac OS X has existed for well over 5 years. You are telling
            me that Longhorn (an idea) had it, but Apple stole it and wrote it quicker and better
            than MS, right?
          • vaporware has code too...

            Mac OS X has not exactly existed for over 5 years. well. Mac OS X has. But tiger, leopard, etc haven't. Each one is like a new windows. Microsoft just changes their name. OS X 1, 2, 3, 4 ,etc isn't fun
            and I wanna see OS XI. Cuz at the current rate it will be an implant in my brain.
          • Longhorn is an operating system.

            Are you clueless? Longhorn was the codename for Windows Vista, so yes it WAS an operating system. Vista was called Longhorn before they came up with the name Vista, and it was also in development for over 5 years.
          • Actually that's not really true

            Longhorn wasn't Windows Vista. Microsoft tried to make Longhorn and ended up with a massive quantity of messy code that they realized would never take shape acceptably, so they threw it all out and started it all over and called the new version Vista.
          • 10.2 & earlier

            Yes, Spotlight has been a feature in OS X since the start. It began as the
            search engine in Mail & iTunes. Apple then made it the systemwide search
            engine. All this well before vista had a working search feature

            Widgets in the Mac OS date back to the first releases of the Mac OSes,
            known then as System 1, 2, 3... Though they were known as desk
            accessories, they had their own home ready for action in the click of a
            mouse. Back then, Apple realized that waiting for an app to start up simply
            for a calculator was bad interface design, so they created desk accessories
            which were available system wide for quick access

            Smart folders began life with iTunes, about when 10.2 was released.
            Before being added to the Finder, smart folders were a feature of Mail

            No. That was introduced two years ago with Tiger. Well before vista beta's
            were released. Besides, vista doesn't have a feature similar to Expose. flip
            3d is to lame to be in the same league as Expose

            Also introduced well before vista: transparency (windows, icons & more),
            previews, side bars, iTunes, iPod, and many more features innovated by

            Most of the features in vista were working in released versions of OS X well
            before vista or longhorn had a user interface

            What did Apple copy from windows?
            Alt-Tab (Apple-Tab in OS X) a completely useless feature which the Dock
            excels at.

            Thank you for asking
          • Microsoft is always playing catch-up

            Just so you know - transparency (windows, icons & more), have been a part of Linux since 2004. And it's nice to see Vista is now catching up to the original release of OS X. Everyone has their favorite OS, mine is Mac, then Linux - Windows if I have to.
          • Microsoft Playing catch up? On one or two fronts maybe...

            To say Windows is playing catch up to any operating system has to be one of the most disingenuous statements I have heard in quite a long time. It can only come from someone who is either uneducated in operating system capabilities, someone who has no need or interest for massive hardware/software compatibility and interoperability along with intuitive ease of use, or someone who has their self esteem so tied to their choice of operating system they cant think straight.

            First let me start by saying I think that both Linux and OSX are very very good operating systems, so good in fact for many I suggest it is by far a better choice for certain individuals. On the other hand neither OSX or Linux in particular is suitable for the vast majority of people who use computers. Custom builders and people who are used to doing interesting and sometimes radical upgrading need not look towards Apple computers unless they simply enjoy the fact that they are so highly skilled they can make OSX somehow run on any possible hardware configuration. If you already have lots of Windows based software you really love using, particularly games, you cant even begin to think of using anything other then a Windows based system.

            If you don't like the idea of having to use command lines or the worry of installing a piece of hardware in the future that you may have to hunt for suitable drivers for, then Linux is out for sure. Sure, if you don't mind learning those things then Linux may well be a very viable choice again, otherwise, forget about it. Completely.

            If you value security so highly, pretty much well above any other consideration, then Linux has got to be your choice simply due to the fact that not only is it typically the inherently most secure operating system, there just isn't any interest in writing viruses worms and trojans or the like for the OS so its by far the most secure. The problem is that in recent years, upgrades to XP security and now with Vista, there are plenty of free security software solutions that along with only a modicum of common sense keep most people relatively threat free indefinitely on Windows based OS's.

            In the end, telling someone that they are crazy not to go with Linux due to its superior security is tantamount to telling someone they are crazy to buy any car other then a Volvo because of its superior safety features. If thats all you care about sure, but there really should be more reasons then security for the average person to go with Linux or its just plain the wrong choice.

            If you are out looking for your first computer, and you don't already rely on any Windows based software, and your not a gamer, and you are not the kind of person who is ever going to be into doing alot of computer upgrading and modding, and if you do not mind spending the exorbitant prices that all "name brand" overpriced computers cost, Windows based included, such as Dell, HP etc, then Apple might be the absolute best choice for you by far. Apple puts together a marvelous hardware package with a really great OS and its almost as secure as Linux on the average. In fact the only things against Apple is that you can have a PC custom built by a reliable builder to your own specifications for noticeably less money then what an Apple cost, and Apple computer are not the best choice for gaming as well as the fact that because most people use Windows, more often then not it will be you thats forced to adapt to Windows based compatibility problems when they arise. Not to mention, there is no doubt that as Apples popularity increases its going to be Apple that is always going to be less secure then Linux generally.

            The fact is that Windows leads in many many areas of compatibility, ease of use, cost of hardware, selection of software and gaming. Security is weak in Windows compared to the others but it certainly is not anything close to being in the ballpark of crippling attacks the way the other OS supporters would like people to believe.

            The fact is that Microsoft is actually leading in most of the areas the most of the public consider to be most important and its the other OS's that have to find a way to "catch up" in a more general sense.

            By default this means that
          • thanks for the info

            thanks for the info
          • Wow, when did Longhorn ship? That must have been some intro!

            "Was Expose in 10.2? Where widgets in 10.2? Where smart folders in 10.2?
            Index based searching, the sidebar, search folders, flip 3d where all in longhorn."

            Expos? shipped four years ago in Panther, Smart Folders and Widgets shipped over
            two years ago with Tiger.

            When did Longhorn ship exactly? How many Windows customers got to use it over
            the last four years? Oh, right, it never shipped. It finally shipped a few months ago.

          • Yeh

            Bulls eye. You've totally hit my point :)
            Thx :p
        • You can't back that up, because it isn't true.

          10.2 was worse than XP, even on a feature-to-feature basis. It was slow, had abysmal window management (Expose didn't come out 'til 10.3, and until then Apple has consistently been behind in task management).

          Apple zealots take the cake. A recent study showed you guys are the most loyal fanbase. Windows 95 had NetMeeting, which allowed people to share desktops. Isn't iChat just getting that feature...?