Apple versus Microsoft: The top 20 stolen ideas of the OS wars

Steve Jobs once said that Microsoft stole Windows from Apple, but both sides have snatched plenty of ideas over the years

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.

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."

Related stories

This story, "Apple versus Microsoft: The top 20 stolen ideas of the OS wars," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in Windows 7, Windows in general, Mac OS X, and Macintosh in general at

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.