The Strange Parallel Reality of Vista

So I must be out of the loop with all of this Vista stuff. When I wasn't looking, Microsoft apparently constructed an entire site filled to the brim with transparency, Aqua sensibilities and colors, reflections and Myriad as far as the eye can see.

More generally, it also looks like Microsoft has taken to using Myriad on the large feature graphics on their home page.

Myriad is, of course, Apple's corporate font. That's tame compared to the Vista UI, though. I clicked on the link for Windows Media Player 11, and saw a Windows application that's trying so hard to be Mac OS X that I just feel a bit bad for it. I mean, even iTunes looks more like a Windows app. I'm, of course, not trying to come down on the individual people working on the app -- it's the corporate strategy that seems absurd.

Then decided to join in the fun. In this piece, they describe some of the features of Vista. Take a deep breath before you enter the thick cloud of irony:

"Among the features in the OS are security improvements, some snazzy new graphics, and a new means of searching and organizing information. Rather than having to remember the single folder where something is stored, users will be able to put documents in any number of virtual folders. They can also establish folders that will automatically update, such as 'files edited in the last week' or 'documents from Jane.'"

But wait, there's more!

"...broad IPv6 support, improved client-side caching of data stored on a server, whole-volume encryption, a revamped synchronization engine, the ability to support laptops with an auxiliary display, automatic hard drive optimization and a secure boot-up process that helps prevent someone from gaining access to your data if your PC is lost or stolen. There's also probably a ton of stuff we haven't heard about yet."

So this is all pretty standard Microsoft stuff, but why did not pipe up and mention the remarkable parallels between this and things that Apple shipped in Tiger and even Panther?

I grant Microsoft slightly more slack for the visual design aspects of the Vista site and its actual UI. Apple's influence is so strong that it's hard to not mimic them from time to time. The list of Vista features, though, is just too much to take.

If the major publications wish to live up to their claims of being better than a regular blog, they have to take responsibility and point out that Vista was not created in a vacuum. Microsoft is always going to prop up its own reality about Windows, but doesn't have to help them do it.
Design Element
The Strange Parallel Reality of Vista
Posted Jan 27, 2006 — 12 comments below


Ben Kazez — Jan 27, 06 715

A Microsoft VP came to speak at my college, and he gave a question-and-answer session to a small group, primarily consisting of CS majors. One person asked how Vista differed from Tiger. He responded by whipping out a PowerPoint presentation of Vista that was full of vapid claims along the lines of "Experience your full potential." What got me most were descriptions just like what you posted. The Spotlight and Sync Services imitations were most ironic, in my opinion.

bluk — Jan 28, 06 716

The second question asked is what you're looking for. It is one of the 3 articles published today (including the one you reference) dealing with Windows Vista. Mind you, I think the answer is completely off-topic, but or at least its readership isn't pretending that Microsoft lives in a vacuum.

Mayo — Jan 28, 06 717

Oh look, even the window close button is red, hehehehe. This stuff is funny. But the same happened when XP came out just after 10.2.

What concerns me more is that Safari is not capable rendering that page properly. Firefox works just fine. I haven't looked at it in IE (too lazy to boot up the windows box again), but in Safari it's pretty unusable. But then it doesn't validate either: 51 html/xhtml (whatever it is supposed to be, no DOCTYPE), and 10 pretty fundamental CSS errors; and it's known Safari is less forgiving than Firefox, so it's all good. :)

Hey, you sure it's Myriad and not "Verdana Vista" that looks like Myriad but with angles off by .05 degrees and curves off by 0.01? :)

MJ — Jan 28, 06 718

It's a paid feature by a big advertiser. Of course is going to rabbit exactly what they are given.

Technology journalists will write whatever you pay them to write, and they're not expensive either. In our local deadtree rag, you can buy the technology column for just under 1000 and put anything you want there. And that includes a half page full colour advert too.

lne — Jan 28, 06 719

Although extremely similar, it's not Myriad. It's an Microsoft-developed font called Segoe UI.

Ben — Jan 28, 06 720

As OS X users we should be happy for the MS camp. While Microsoft is blatently copying from Apple with its UI designs and methodology it's a huge complement to Apple that it's ideas and designs are being used all around the world in even more than Microsoft websites and products.

Many other people say the Operating System race is more evolutionary than copying. For example if an OS feature is solid and usable that eventually it will become a defacto standard and expected on all systems (look at cameras on phones). All this means is that Apple has to stay on their 8-ball and keep their next OS that next step better than the competition.

Whilst MS is bringing their OS up to speed to Apples designs and UI, we all know that MS often doesn't "get it" the first or second time around, and if they are truely "copying" we will see their attempts, but they will be hollow. Apple make products and applications for consumers. Microsoft makes a lot of stuff, I believe business focused, and this is why OS X is such a beauty to use for me.

So while I am an Apple fan I say "bring it" to Microsoft, the MS users will finally be brought into the 21st century and Apple will release Leopard and Vista will look like the ugly child once again.

Neil — Jan 28, 06 721

"you can't polish a turd".... well I suppose you can but that doesn't make it any more appealing.

but why are they using the itunes icon?

does it come preinstalled :-)

Justin Williams — Jan 28, 06 722

It's no wonder people are investing so much effort in trying to boot Vista on the new Intel Macs. You can barely tell the difference between Vista and OS X!</sarcasm> :-)

Samo Korosec — Jan 28, 06 723

I wonder how a company as big as Microsoft, with as much "talent" as a software can possibly buy is not ashamed to do something like that. Seriously, it's like they have Joe Manager looking at OS X going "WE NEED THAT! JUST _DIFFERENT_!" and Jim Programmer going "I know, we'll make it even _cooler_ by using two more gradients and half the transparency! That'll show 'em!"

Will — Jan 28, 06 724

Anyone who thinks this is amusing *must* see the three short videos here.

It's a Vista product description from Bill Gates, with clips from Tiger for the video. Really pushes the point home.


Scott Stevenson — Jan 29, 06 729 Scotty the Leopard

lne said: Although extremely similar, it's not Myriad. It's an Microsoft-developed font called Segoe UI.

Actually, before I posted at all, I brought the "OneCare Live" graphic into Photoshop and verified that Myriad overlaid correctly on it. It was a perfect match, with the exception of a few microns being off due to compression, anti-aliasing, etc.

Perhaps just these letters are identical, or perhaps Vista uses the new font and OneCare doesn't. Either way, we're obviously splitting hairs.

Ben said: Microsoft is blatently copying from Apple with its UI designs and methodology it's a huge complement

The copying doesn't bother me (in truth, none of it really bothers me), it's just all of the Microsoft talk that tries to make it sound like they were the first to do this.

Padraig O'Broin — Jan 31, 06 734

I presume you've all read this article on the aforementioned font issue...


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