In an interview published Tuesday, Simon Aldous, partner group manager at Microsoft, acknowledged that the company had used Mac OS X as its muse.
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"One of the things that people say an awful lot about the Apple Mac is that the OS is fantastic, that it's very graphical and easy to use," Aldous told PCR from a partner conference in the U.K.
"What we've tried to do with Windows 7 -- whether its traditional format or in a touch format -- is create a Mac look and feel in terms of graphics," Aldous added.
Even as he granted that Apple's user interface was well-liked by users, however, Aldous couldn't resist taking a shot at Microsoft's rival. "We've significantly improved the graphical user interface, but it's built on that very stable core Vista technology, which is far more stable than the current Mac platform," Aldous said.
Late Wednesday, Microsoft repudiated Aldous. "Unfortunately, this came from a Microsoft employee who was not involved in any aspect of designing Windows 7," said Brandon LeBlanc, a company spokesman who authors most of the Windows 7 blog posts . "I hate to say this about one of our own, but his comments were inaccurate and uninformed."
Comparisons between Microsoft's and Apple's operating systems, common because of the short gap between their releases, have often noted Windows 7's resemblance to Mac OS X 10.6, particularly the similarities between the revamped task bar of the former and the dock of the latter. Computerworld 's Preston Gralla, for example, highlighted Windows 7's taskbar, calling it better at displaying thumbnails of an application's open windows. Gralla, however, gave Snow Leopard the edge in the user interface match, saying in a head-to-head comparison that, "No one beats Apple when it comes to design."
Both Windows 7 and Snow Leopard have sold well since their debuts. Two weeks after the Aug. 28 launch of Mac OS X 10.6, retail research firm NPD Group estimated that Apple had sold twice as many copies of Snow Leopard than it had of its predecessor, Leopard. Microsoft, meanwhile, sold three times more copies of Windows 7 in the week surrounding its Oct. 22 release than it did Vista in the opening days of Vista sales in early 2007, NPD said last week.