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Microsoft Manager Claims Windows 7 was Inspired by OS X

apple-v-microsoftA Microsoft advertising executive, speaking with the site PCR, went on record to say that he believed Windows 7’s design to be inspired by OS X. Now Microsoft is refuting the quote, which seems bound to wind up in the latest round of “Get a Mac” commercials.

In the interview with PCR, Simon Aldous, Microsoft’s Partner Group Manager is asked, “Is Windows 7 really a much more agile operating system, in terms of the specific uses it can be moulded to?”

He replies:

…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 quote sparked a fury of web activity. After all, to give OS X its propers, the operating system did have a richer, more graphical environment than Windows in the XP era, and Microsoft seemed to strive to catch up with Windows Vista and then Windows 7, looking to provide a similarly rich graphical interface — something that many customers demanded. When looking at Windows 7, some graphical features do vaguely resemble those of OS X, but there’s significant differences as well (OS X’s Launcher Bar differs tremendously from Windows 7’s Task Bar) that indicate that the OS is no mere OS X clone, even in terms of looks.

One important point that many of those quoting Mr. Aldous’s remarks failed to make clear was that he was not involved in the design of Windows 7 (he’s an advertising/PR section manager). The Windows 7 Team’s chief blogger, Brandon LeBlanc, has posted a blog blasting the suggestion that Windows 7 is an OS X clone.

He writes:

An inaccurate quote has been floating around the Internet today about the design origins of Windows 7 and whether its look and feel was “borrowed” from Mac OS X. Unfortunately this came from a Microsoft employee who was not involved in any aspect of designing Windows 7. I hate to say this about one of our own, but his comments were inaccurate and uninformed. If you’re interested in learning more about the design of Windows 7, I suggest reading this AP story with Julie Larson-Green as well as these WSJ (membership required) and Fast Company articles. And here is one of many blog posts on the E7 blog discussing the design process of Windows 7.

Many Apple-leaning sites, nonetheless are seizing on the quote as evidence that OS X is gaining on Windows. Writes Apple Insider, “The similarities between Windows 7 and Apple’s latest operating system upgrade, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, were noted by The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg in his review of the Microsoft software. He said he believes that the Mac OS is still the superior operating system, but only slightly.”

Apple Insider goes on to note the terrific sales managed by the well-received Snow Leopard. It fails to note, however, the equally terrific sales that Windows 7 has put up, besting Vista’s launch week by a reported 234 percent.

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Dena Cassella
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