Although Mac fanboys and Windows zealots don't like to admit it, the fact is that both Windows 7 and Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard contain features that originated in the other OS. Some features were stolen so long ago that they've become part of the computing landscape, and it's difficult to remember who invented what.
Two of Windows 7's most touted new features -- the task bar and Aero Peek -- are clearly based on Mac OS X's Dock and Exposé. Apple's copying of Windows is less recent, such as cloning the Windows address bar in 2007's Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard as the path bar.
[ See InfoWorld's slideshows: "Top 10 features that Apple stole from Windows" and "Top 10 features that Microsoft stole from Mac OS X" ]
But the borrowing goes For example, the Mac Finder's Sidebar of shortcuts to drives and so forth that debuted in 2003's Mac OS X 10.3 Panther was "inspired" by the appearance of the Navigation pane in Windows XP two years earlier.
And Windows Vista's previews in 2006 are derived from Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah's preview feature from 2000.
The most egregious rip-offs are almost certainly Windows 7's task bar and Aero Peek and Mac OS X's Command-Tab and the Mac's System Preferences.
You can see the other top OS rip-offs in the InfoWorld slideshows "Top 10 features that Apple stole from Windows" and "Top 10 features that Microsoft stole from Mac OS X."
- Mac OS X Snow Leopard vs. Windows 7
- The UI challenge: Windows 7 vs Mac OS X
- InfoWorld's Windows 7 Deep Dive PDF report
- Hands-on video guide to Windows 7
- Windows 7 RTM: The revenge of Windows Vista
- Mac OS X Snow Leopard: What's new for all users
- Mac OS X Snow Leopard: Perfection, refined
- What's wrong with Mac OS X Snow Leopard
This story, "Apple versus Microsoft: The top 20 stolen ideas of the OS wars," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in Windows 7, Windows in general, Mac OS X, and Macintosh in general at InfoWorld.com.