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Mac OS Can Learn From Windows (3 letters)

April 18, 2005 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - In recounting a mid-'90s discussion with Bill Gates ["Apple: Here to Stay," QuickLink 52930], Don Tennant was skeptical about Gates' statement that "there's a ton of things even in Windows 3.1 that the Mac doesn't have, that someday they'll probably add to their system."

A couple of years after the release of Win 95, I attended an Apple event celebrating the new features in Mac OS 8.0. As I sat watching this operating system version that offered full-screen wallpaper (a feature of Win 3.1), Internet options (catching up with Win 95), systemwide sound effects (another Win 3.1 feature) and more, I said to the longtime Mac user sitting beside me that this was Apple's attempt to maintain parity with Windows 95.

Clearly, Microsoft has gotten a lot of mileage out of features that appeared first in the Mac OS (as Gates begrudgingly admitted in Tennant's column). But it has by no means been a one-way street.

Alan Zisman
Computer teacher
Vancouver School District
Vancouver, British Columbia

Mac OS X may be a nice-looking overlay to Unix, but it still leaves much to be desired. For example, networking in an environment where multiple servers are used is decidedly flaky, permissions must be changed to do simple things like adding fonts or nonstandard printers, and administrative access is difficult.

People may see the end of Microsoft's dominance in the near future, but the view from the trenches is that Windows will be the way to go until an OS that is as user- and admin-friendly comes around.

Jason Sise
MIS technician
The Times News Inc.
Lehighton, Pa.
jsise@tnonline.com

Tennant closes with the words, "The best technology may not always win. But it's not going to go away, either." While this may apply for the example of Apple and Microsoft, it's not a truth in general for technology. My background is audio/video technology. In the early 1980s, consumers were ready to buy home-video devices en masse. There were three systems competing: Philips' and Grundig's Video 2000, Sony's not-so-hot Betamax and, the worst of them all, VHS. It was VHS that ended up in millions of households. There were two reasons, as I see it. First, VHS recorders from Asia were much cheaper than the European-made Video 2000 devices, and second, consumers didn't see a need for a system that performs better than any source feeding it. Why record in stereo when there is no stereo broadcast, and why go for high picture quality when the aerial antenna barely brings in a few snowy stations?

As for Apple, it is always the innovator and at times a decade ahead of everyone else. I agree that Apple won't be going away, and it will keep innovating. But who knows? When The SCO Group's claims are finally dismissed by a judge, it may be Linux that becomes the driving force.

David Krings
Forestville, Conn.

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