A Taste of Apple

10/20/2003 12:10:24 AM

A Taste of Apple

"Hell froze over." Apple has recently developed iTunes for Windows, which they call the "best Windows app ever." So, I downloaded it. It felt nice, but I didn't feel it was any more compelling than WinAmp or, even Windows Media Player with the addons.

I used to primarily use a Macintosh throughout college in the early 90s. I stopped using Macintoshes after going to Microsoft. I used to feel that the experience of using a Mac instead was more enjoyable and more multimedia rich than Windows. Macs were cool, but then Windows 95 didn't exist and, when it did arrive, it erased much of the gap. It became harder for me to think about Mac advantages, having not just a Mac for so long. All the exclusive features of the Mac are no longer the exclusive.

Innovations
I still feel the Mac is cool and innovative. Apple introduced a number of innovations to the desktop that since migrated to the Windows world: the GUI, the mouse, desktop publishing, movies, multiple monitors, visual theming, FireWire, personal video editing, innovative hardware design.. the list goes on and on.

There was such beauty to the system. AppleScript, the Mac's scripting language, is in English! I don't know what that means for international markets, but that was just so cool.

Some of Apple's aborted technologies showed lots of vision: OpenDoc and Taligent(Pink) were revolutionary, but maybe too revolutionary. What ever happened to Hypercard? This was an amazing web-like app, that pre-dated the web. When I think about Inductive UI, it seems like applications in Longhorn and Avalon, will go "back" to the future.

OS X
With OS X, they did a number of cool things, two of which come to mind.
1) Apple build the Mac OS on top of UNIX (You can have a UI and a powerful OS.) A modern OS, finally.
2) They built a real nice graphics subsystem, with compositing, 3D, transparencies. The thing that still amazes me, is the swooshing non-linear animation (the "genie effect") when an application window is minimized into the dock.

I believe that Windows XP addresses the first issue, as it is built under Windows NT technology, comparable to UNIX. On the second issue, Windows XP supports double-buffered windows, with alpha-blending support, but that is hardly comparable to richness provided by Quartz and Aqua. We will have to wait for Longhorn.

There are a series of Mac OS X articles in arstechnica.com that I read from time to time. I still have the feeling that Apple is cooler than Windows, and I want to keep up and sample "coolness" every once in a while.

Mac Office
When I worked in Microsoft Excel, Microsoft had common codebase for Mac and Excel. Unfortunately, that made Mac Offiec feel like a Windows port. So, Excel and Word was forked into another branch in a newly formed Mac Business Unit that was periodically kept in synced. The result was "Office 98" and "Office 2001" for the Mac--esentially the previously release Windows version with a number of corporate functionality cut (like OLAP-based PivotTables) usually unsupported by the Mac OS and a set of carefully chosen cool new end-user features like a list manager, context menu with synonyms, and a "formatting" palette. The resulting Office suite, I was surprised always looked cooler than the Windows version, though in total the Mac version probably had fewer features.

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