Windows 10 Copies OS X and Innovates

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Windows 10 Desktop View

The Windows 10 launch has impressed many tech writers. With its similarities to OS X and the addition of Cortana, even some die-hard Mac fans are considering moving back to Windows.

Windows 10 is a slavish copy of OS X in some respects. Despite the criticism that OS X 10.11 El Capitan copies Windows 10, side-by-side window arrangement is nothing new to the Mac. The original 1984 Mac could display multiple windows on one screen. Apple didn’t invent this, but took the technology from Xerox PARC. After all, the Alto was never going to see the light of day. They did hire the key engineers at Xerox who created the Alto.

Xerox Alto

OS X lacked the ability to automatically position windows side-by-side. It wasn’t explicitly supported, but there are freely available AppleScripts that have been around for years. Also, with multiple desktops and the ability to save the state of your desktop between boot cycles, it’s easy enough to configure different desktops with windows positioned and sized as needed. You can have a desktop designed for every use case and quickly switch between them. The Mac never really needed a side-by-side Windows management feature. Nonetheless, this feature has been added in OS X 10.11 El Capitan.

Previous versions of Windows didn’t handle multiple windows very well. When I right-clicked on the task bar and selected to tile windows, it would bring up minimized windows, which shouldn’t be the case. They improved this in Windows 7 with a “windows snap” gesture.

 

Windows 10 offers a new side-by-side window management feature. When one window is pushed to the side, Windows will suggest other appropriate apps. There is intelligence in this design and implementation. Many tech writers feel it is better than anything iOS or OS X have to offer.

With Windows 10, Microsoft has slavishly copied Mission Control, but who cares?

Windows 10 Task View Copies OS X Mission Control

Mission Control on Mac OS X Yosemite

Consumers care mostly about price. Most have never used a Mac. The masses of Windows PC consumers will get a $200-$500 PC with Windows 10 and when they see it on a Mac, they will figure Apple copied it. They don’t read tech blogs. A lot of people just grab a computer at Costco (after their last one dies), along with their groceries and a rotisserie chicken. There’s nothing wrong with that.

I care a lot about technology, but I realize that most people don’t. Just like Android is the dominant mobile operating system, Windows is the leader for desktop and notebook computers. Sometimes Apple fans forget they are still the minority. It’s as delusional as a BMW owner believing that everyone drives a BMW.

We see countless Apple devices placed in movies and TV shows, but that is far from reality. Living in the Silicon Valley, most of my friends, colleagues and neighbors don’t own an iPad or a Mac, but the iPhone is remarkably popular.

Windows 10 Offers Cortana.

There is innovation in Windows 10. The Cortana personal assistant is available to all Windows 10 users. Why hasn’t Apple added Siri to the Mac? There’s no good reason, other than perhaps to drive adoption of iOS devices. Perhaps it would add too much load on their servers. This would increase costs in the data center, but there aren’t that many Mac users.

Most of Siri’s logic is run on servers. When you issue a Siri request, it sends your voice, as an audio stream, to a server for processing. You get a response back. If you doubt this, try using Siri in Airplane mode or with WiFi and cellular data turned off. Siri can’t do much at all. It will just tell you to connect to the Internet. This is true of all personal digital assistants.

Siri Not Available Offline

It is completely possible to add Siri to the Mac. It takes some development effort, but Siri’s “brain” is external to the device. Apple would need to put some engineering into handling the response — adding a Calendar appointment, playing a song. It’s not trivial, but the heavy lifting is already done. (continue…)

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