Microsoft Employee talks about how MS is copying Leopard for next OS

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Brandon is a developer for Microsoft. He has a Macbook that he carries around at work because its a well built machine. He barely uses OSX on it, and he even knows some people at his job who have them and have completely deleted the OSX partition – because the hardware is THAT good…but, you know, OSX doesn’t quite compare to Windows Vista.

Anyway, in this post on his blog, he discusses not only how Microsoft is looking at Leopard and copying features, but he also ponders if Apple is doing the same…

“One day a friend of mine on the team printed off a couple dozen screenshots of Leopard, showing off various tasks the user can do in OS X, and hung them on one of our hallways. Across from it are pictures of the same tasks in that incredibly well-kept secret of a project that we’re working on. There are post-it notes and markers next to each wall where passersby leave comments / questions.

I wonder if any hallways in Cupertino have something like that?”

My guess would be no, Brandon. I mean, fanboyism aside, what exactly is there to copy from Vista? Vista has been universally panned and berated as horrible, which is why you guys are fast at work on that “incredibly well-kept secret of a project” that you mentioned.

What are Jobs and company going to copy? The asking permission to do anything feature?

Seriously readers – is there anything in Vista that OSX needs to have? Are there any great features that I’m not aware of? I’ve tried Vista – I even ran it on my Macbook Pro for a while, but I had no use for it. If there’s something awesome that I’m missing, though, I’d love to know what it is.

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Kossi Adzo

Kossi Adzo is a technology enthusiast and digital strategist with a fervent passion for Apple products and the innovative technologies that orbit them. With a background in computer science and a decade of experience in app development and digital marketing, Kossi brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective to the Apple Gazette team.

49 thoughts on “Microsoft Employee talks about how MS is copying Leopard for next OS

  1. MS paint. Is their any equivalent built into Mac OS X that is like MS paint. I know this is just a little thing but I use it all the time in Vista and XP. Minesweeper and solitaire are built into Vista and XP. That is just about it I don’t think you missed anything important Michael.

  2. Having used Windows for several years and then switching back to the Mac, I got used to use the context menu a lot. I wish designers would incorporate it more.

  3. Remote Desktop Connection. Yes, I know there’s Apple Remote Desktop, and VNC will do in a pinch, but neither are built in, and RDC is one thing Microsoft did a really good job with.

    (and, just for the record, I’ve been a Mac user since 1986)

  4. Most everything mentioned, with the exception of the box, are features from previous versions of Windows (most are in 3.1).

    As far as Paint goes, wait until Apple buys Adobe and there will be a great pain program included in the iLife bundle. Guess it would be called iPaint or iDraw.

    I agree on the context menu. It’s one of those features Apple should have thought of, but it goes back to OS/2 and Windows95.

  5. Vista has that thing where the OS loads into random start addresses of memory so that hackers can’t predict where key routines will reside in memory. That is pretty nice and Apple could get on board there.

    For home users it might be true that OS X has little to be gained from Vista. If Apple is ever to make it into corporate environments, where the majority of computers are sold, it has a lot to learn from Vista and Windows in general.

    Where are the tools to create templates to lock systems down? Where are the enterprise level tools for software deployment and inventory. Where are the tools for system deployment? Microsoft offers all these things for corporate customers and these things are the major reason Apple has no penetration into the enterprise.

    OS X excells at being a stand alone computer or when networked at home or in small offices, but it is a management nightmare if you have to manage morer than 25 or so.

  6. What are you guys talking about?

    Mac OS X has context menus pretty much everywhere! I just “right-clicked” a word in this field and it gave me a context menu with ten (10) options! Learn how to use your Macs guys.

    If you have a one-button mouse: control-click an item (icon, folder, Desktop, document, etc.)

    If you have a multi-button mouse: make sure your Mouse System Preference is set up to recognize the other buttons and assign functions to each.

  7. @Todd

    OS X server has ASR and Netboot, along with netrestore, which can not only do mass deployment, but with the new versoin of netrestore, can do mass deployment of both OS X and Windows. Literally just netboot the new out of box machine to the server and wait for it to be setup both OS X and Windows (including the partitioning and formatting) via your scripts and netrestore. See,,, etc…

    Don’t knock OS X server features if you haven’t used them. Also, the windows control and update features are easily replaced with ASR and/or OS X server, respectively.

  8. @ Todd – I second what you say.

    I would also add the ability to manipulate files in Open and Save dialog boxes. You can cut, copy, paste rename and delete files just as you would in Windows Explorer. You can drag and drop files both into and out of the dialog boxes too. Mind you, most Windows users don’t even know about this ability.

    Setting up multiple “toolbars” of shortcuts to programs and files around the perimiter of the screen is another feature I find useful, partly because the Start menu sucks big time.

    Despite having some useful features Windows still feels half baked to me with too many rough edges caused by inconsistant design and poor user experience.

  9. Re: Contextual Menus

    I must be missing something but Contextual Menus have been built into the Mac OS’s since Mac OS 8.

    Today just hold the Control key down or buy a Mighty Mouse or other multi-button mouse to get access to Contextual Menus.

    Re: Remote Desktop Connection

    Screen sharing is now built into Mac OS 10.5 Leopard. It can be accessed in the Finder whenever you select a network computer’s volume, in iChat to start a remote session with a computer over the Internet and it forms the basis of Back to my Mac, which is part of the .Mac service.

    Previously yes, you required Apple Remote Desktop (ARD). Apple Remote Access (same as ARD) use to be included as far back as Mac OS 8.

    Regarding many of the features that appeared in Windows 95 and OS/2. If any of you saw NeXTStep/OpenStep back in the late 80’s/early 90s (which is what Mac OS X is based on) you would recognize many of the features.

    Windows 95 and OS/2 got most of their UI ideas from both Mac Systems of the time and NeXTStep/OpenStep. There was very little original work if any in Windows 95 or OS/2.

  10. There are quite a few little things in Vista that I wish OS X would adopt. List Views that provide Entourage-like date separators (last week, last month and such), ordering by deeper metadata (such as Mp3’s), etc. Flip 3D is quite useful, actually, as it feels like a better way to deal with many open windows (Exposé gets me lost as soon as I have more than six or seven Finder windows open, as it reduces them to the point of being undistinguishable). Cut and paste is handy. Etc.

  11. @Michael

    No it doesn’t have “cut and paste” in the Finder. You can’t CMD + X and CMD V a file from a folder to another.

    What should os x copy from vista is live transparency in the menu bar, for those who would like it.

  12. All I can say is I actually did a little time on a microsoft help desk. If Microsoft had any inkling at all that he had leaked that, they would light him up like a firecracker. They have some pretty serious NDA’s rolling around redmond. Yeesh

    Not that Cupertino doesn’t have similar stuff, but all I can say is if I worked at Microsoft I wouldn’t have blogged about that.

  13. These comments are hilarious!!! Microsoft spent years not to mention millions upon millions of dollars creating Vista, and the things people think are worth copying are the BOX and MS Paint.

  14. @Antonio

    The box?!?! Please tell me you’re kidding. Know how many times I’ve looked at the box for any software once I’ve installed it? Zilch! It’s what’s in that box that matters. Apple could ship software in an old plastic grocery bag and I’d buy it. Likewise, Microsoft could ship Windows in a gold plated, diamond crusted, crystal container and I still wouldn’t buy it.
    (Insert fanboy comment here)


    Leopard (OS X 10.5.x) debuted the “Spaces” feature that supplements Exposé and greatly helps the situation you described.


    OS X does have the ability to duplicate a file (CMD +D) and then all you have to do is drag and drop to the appropriate folder. But, really, how often do you need to duplicate entire files to store in multiple places on the same machine? Is that something Windows requires? Never really needed to do that on a Mac.

  15. @Michael

    I find it amazing how sometimes you can write such narrow minded posts. I’ve studied innovation for past few years and one of the thing that is almost mandatory about innovating is looking at what others do. Apple certainly looks at the product from other company. It is essential to their own capacity to bring innovations to the market. Great companies don’t close themselves to the outside world but embrace it and with all the innovations that we brought to us by Apple, I would guess they are very good at looking what the others do and try to make it better. Finally, I’m pretty sure they have a wall in Cupertino just like the guys from MS have.

  16. Ready Boost – the ability to plug in a USB thumb drive for use caching disk operations to improve speed. Of course Vista has a much bigger need for a speed boost than Leopard, but a nice feature nonetheless.

  17. First of all, let me say I’m a Mac user and I’ve been using Macs since 1989 with my first mac, an SE/30. Never been a solid Windows user.

    That said, one feature I love about Windows is the ability to navigate any menu from the keyboard by just using the Alt key and pressing the underlined letter of the menu command. The great thing about this feature is that one doesn’t have to remember the command combinations for such menus. I think this is helpful in situations when using the mouse is not desired.

    I’m not saying Windows’s implementation of this feature is great. The concept is good, but I’m sure Apple can do better implementation.

  18. The best feature of windows is when a window opens up with a choice that you have to make (ex: Save, Don’t Save or cancel) you can use the arrow keys to select which is highlighted, then press return to make your choice. On a Mac, one is always highlighted, and if you want to select another, you have to use the mouse.

  19. @Tropinkill

    There are shortcuts for some of those dialogs. Escape usually acts as a cancel. In Save / Don’t Save dialogs, Command-D usually maps to Don’t Save.

  20. Over all I really dislike Windows. With that said, I like how in Windows I can delete one thing in the recycle bin without emptying the whole thing. I also like how it is easier to customize things like the cursor.

  21. @ Lucky

    Actually, you are totally right, you cannot cut and paste a file in Finder as of 10.5.2 like you can in Windows (as of forever).

    @ Michael (and others) – He’s not talking about copying (i.e. Apple-C Apple-V, that works, but that is a copy,it leaves the original where it was), he’s talking about moving a file using keyboard shortcuts…

    I agree, that would be a very nice feature, and one that is used all the time. I had a beta of Leopard and what is interesting is that Apple did implement the Del key to delete files from the finder, but took it out again. I’d love to see that put back…

    To be honest, for me there is little Windows has that I would like to see in Finder. Cut and Paste,

  22. I’m a part-time tech at my college and we have around 50 Macs (PPC, Intel, OS 10.2-10.5) and hundreds of PCs, nearly all WinXP. I can tell you first hand, I have way more fun managing a lab of 24 Macs than running windows update on a single PC (which is the single worst part of my job, as it can take a LONG time, even on newer hardware). There is nearly nothing to manage on the Macs.
    The problem with the Windows machines is that they need all these bolt-on programs and protection like Novell and antivirus and these complex setups that need several restarts to implement per machine, and all those add-ons really slows down a system. Its a waste that starts with a poor foundation- Windows. Plus we still have to deal with DLL hell and softwares that interfere with each other or updates that break functionality. Deploying Office 2007 has had issues.
    The Macs have never had to have their OS reinstalled, and some have taken real beatings (not physically) from rough users and are still holding on and running fine with no maintenance (but since I got here we have been cleaning up slowly). We dont have enough Macs yet (or funding) to get a Mac server, but I am looking into deploying Faronics Deep Freeze, which we use on the lab PCs. If it works well, it is pretty much the only utility that I think would be useful, until we get a Mac server in here. Then the real fun begins 🙂


    It makes me uneasy to think how many people fall for such shallow ‘features’ over real innovation and things that matter. There is probably no technical reason for Apple not to implement virtually any GUI feature that Windows has, only if they spent their precious time on frivolous junk like that, we would have another Microsoft. Also take into consideration the amount of work Apple has done on a relatively young OS (I think) in an immense ecosystem of users with diverse needs like scientists, teachers, media professionals, students, and general users. Oh and all the hardware engineering also.

    BTW I have been using Windows since ’97 and Mac since March ’06

  23. jadedcritic –

    I didn’t “leak” anything. There’s nothing secret about Microsoft employees looking at what the competition does or comparing what we’ve done to what they’ve done. Enough people read FSJ that if anyone cared, I’d have heard about it by now. Believe me, I’m not new to this =)

    And none of what I posted was about “copying.” Apparently some (like the author of this post) read it that way. Of course it’s inevitable that two competing operating systems are going to implement some similar functionality. And it goes both ways. You may not want to admit it, but Leopard stole a ton of things from Vista (basically everything in Spotlight for one – using it as an app launcher, searching other machines, AQS, previews, etc).

    Comparing the steps to complete a task, such as (not a real one, just an example) “Creating a new folder, searching for files, and copying them into the new folder,” can be a useful exercise and reality check. I am certain some teams at Apple take similar steps.

  24. Better to be thought a pirate then to open one’s mouth and confirm it. I will absolutely and freely agree that nothing really wrong was done here, although I’m inclined to think the thought police would disagree. It’s clearly not about protecting intellectual property so much as its about conserving a company’s public image. Let’s face it, Microsoft struggles a great deal with public image. The EU just fined them 1.5 billion for crying out loud.

    Of course anyone with two brain cells can figure out this kind of thing happens, but that doesn’t mean companies want to condone it by talking about it publicly.

    I’ll be the first to admit, let’s hope I’m wrong; and if I’m not wrong, let’s hope the microsoft thought police don’t frequent applegazette. Or wherever Mike’s source happens to be.

  25. @ Randy

    I never said it’s doesn’t have Duplicate…

    @ Dave

    Thank you!

    @ Michael

    lol now you’re showing me how to copy and paste in a screencast…

    Dude. Press CMD + X – (X like in Mac OS X) . not C like in Copy me . . and then press CMD + V (v is for virus) in another folder. See if the file moves from one folder to the other. I don’t think so.

    This is a Finder problem only. It works in all other Mac applications (such as any text editor)..

    Now … do something about that screencast.

  26. Having read all these posts, here are my observations.

    I manage a network of 205 Macs, 73 PCs, 34 Linux or equivilent.

    Macs- little or no maintainence, easy fast upgrades to all via networking.
    I manage all the above workstatiions via a Master Mac workstation. No security issues (thats zero) on Macs and thats why the U.S. Government uses them. Long hardware and software life (years not months, oldest is 7 years old).

    PC’s – I spend 85% of my time managing these workstations. Security upgrades nightmare, patches, software re-installs. I manage all the patches, upgrades via the Mac. Short hardware and software life.

    Linux – Used for scientific applications. Managed via Mac. Same security concerns as PC’s.

    So, If I lived in a perfect world, I would melt every PC and Linux machine down and use it for new pedestals for even more New Macs.

    Everything said that a Mac can’t do…it does. You just have to know the correct key combo’s.


    Moving from one button to another on a dialog box (yes, no or cancel).
    As stated in by another can’t be done on a Mac without useing a mouse.
    Wrong. Use the TAB key and hit enter to jump from anything on a Mac. I’ve use a mac without any mouse connected whatsoever. You can also go into Mac System Preferences: Universal Access and enable the above as the default. Not to mention in same System Preference: enlarging mouse pointer (great if your eyes need reading glasses for anything small”, enableing speech commands, and a number of other interesting user interface options.

    Tip of the day: enlarge anything on your screen for viewing with zoom command. Requires mouse with scroll.

    Hold down CONTROL key while scrolling mouse. You can move side to side or up and down, and even center the scroll by selecting correct settings in System Preferences. Screen Maintains same resolution (so no huge pixels). Also allows auto scroll of screen when you move the mouse. Does Windows do this? Great way to view small movies or small objects on your screen. I use this feature to watch MLB games on my screen in full screen (better then using “fill the screen” features in most players).

  27. @ Combat Camera CPO

    Great comment

    One thing related to your last tip that was introduced in one of the last updates to Tiger, in a new iMac my girlfriend bought, the default key is CMD, not Control . .. interesting .. I wonder why. If anyone can explain this 🙂

  28. “Over all I really dislike Windows. With that said, I like how in Windows I can delete one thing in the recycle bin without emptying the whole thing. I also like how it is easier to customize things like the cursor.”

    Are you serious? Just try right-click or control-clic on the trash and choose “emply trash” !

  29. @ Tropinkill
    Open up System Prefs, go to Keyboard & Mouse > Keyboard Shortcuts and select “All controls” at the bottom. Now you can use the tab key to go between all buttons, and many times the “don’t save” button can be selected with the spacebar.

  30. 10.5.2 Leopard does allow cut and paste of finder files from the keyboard. I just tested it and it worked fine.

  31. Thanks to all who pointed out the tab key, and escape for selecting buttons. I learn something new everyday.

    Now there is nothing in windows that I like better than OSX!

  32. I can name a lot of features, but here’s one:

    How about the ability to “Maximize” a window? And don’t give me a redefinition of “Maximize” Maximize means to take up the maximum amount of workspace and does not mean: let’s resize the window to what Apple or the app thinks you want it to be.

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