My Linux and Mac Buddies are going to have my hide for this one. First of all, I love Macs. I love Linux. I think they both have their place, and have both done an excellent job putting a huge challenge to a very large Monopoly named Microsoft. Linux, in fact, is my livelihood.
That said, it irks me when I hear stories that Microsoft is not an Innovator and that Vista has no new or innovative features. It bothers me that people think Microsoft is copying Apple in everything. Now, before you come after me with your shovels and torches, let me explain.
Microsoft has been secretly doing something behind the scenes. They haven’t advertised it much, they haven’t even talked about it much. It started back in Windows XP days with a new release of XP called Windows Media Center Edition. It mostly came as an OEM release, meaning that it could only be purchased pre-installed with a manufactured PC such as Dell or HP. You may have seen it at your local Computer Retailer.
Media Center was essentially an add-on to Windows XP that allowed you to do media-related activities with the touch of a remote, no mouse needed. You could watch TV through it, pause, rewind, fast-forward TV like Tivo. You could schedule recordings to your hard drive and watch them later. You also had access to your entire video and/or mp3 collection via one of the best interfaces around.
Not long after Windows XP Media Center Edition was released, Microsoft started releasing hardware clients called Windows Media Center Extenders. These extenders attached to any TV in your home, and basically allowed you to stream TV over your home network for each TV Tuner card you had in your computer. Not just that but you had all the features you had on your main Windows Media Center PC.
Soon after that, Microsoft released software that allowed your Xbox to communicate with the Windows Media Center PC, making the Xbox its own Media Center Extender. Now not only was the Windows PC the central Media Hub for your home, but now worked with the gaming in the home all in one box.
Later they released the Xbox 360, this time with the Media Center extender bundled in for free. Along with this came built-in audio and video streaming from a Windows PC (doesn’t even need to be Media Center!). You got this, networked gaming, some of the best graphics around, all in HD format, all in one device that communicates with a Windows PC!
Now, we see the launch of Windows Vista. Vista Ultimate comes bundled with Media Center. Microsoft has released the Zune, while it may be a rip-off of the iPod, integrates better with Microsoft’s Media Center than any other portable device out there. Not just that, but it syncs with the Xbox directly! It came with features iPods only dreamed of having.
Microsoft has now announced IPTV that will integrate with the Xbox 360. I hear of no other manufacturer announcing such a product.
Now, out of nowhere, Apple has released their Apple TV product. It streams video, music, pictures, connects to the internet. It is meant to stream from a local Mac hub in the home. Gee – sound familiar?
Now there are already talks of Apple hiring game console developers and the possibility of an Apple gaming console that integrates with Apple TV. Apple is releasing faster and faster network speeds between Apple devices.
I ask, who’s copying who? Who’s the innovator? I think Microsoft is about to start marketing one of the largest innovations in their history – they just haven’t made it officially known yet. The thing is, it’s already here, right in front of our noses!
Apple is playing catch up – they know it. The great thing about Apple however is while they may copy, they at least copy better than Microsoft does. You be the judge – who’s the copycat?