The Greatest Compliment is Imitation

Mac users have long felt that Microsoft copies most of its best ideas from Apple. That opinion isn’t likely to change if Bill Gates’ sneak peek at a new computer and upcoming version of Windows is any indication of the future.

At last week’s Winhec computer hardware conference in New Orleans, Gates showed a prototype of an office computer called the Athens PC that Microsoft designed with Hewlett-Packard. It’s supposed to be a “futuristic prototype,” but the snow-white system looks familiar.

Futuristic, that is, except to a number of computer industry veterans who said that Microsoft and Hewlett were leaning too heavily on industrial design ideas that had originated with Apple

The story also notes that Apple executives “took obvious glee” last week in noting that the new graphics software that is scheduled to appear in “Longhorn,” Microsoft’s 2005 version of its Windows operating system, copies features that have been in Mac OS X since 2001.

“You don’t have to look too far to see that this is almost a direct copy of Quartz,” Phil Schiller, Apple’s vice president of marketing, is quoted as saying.

Maybe someday Bill will figure something original out on his own.