Have you seen the Microsoft/HP PC prototype that the two companies are calling the Athens PC? Itis been discussed at many Mac Web sites and forums for the past week, including a rousing discussion on Slashdot, and a flame-fest on at least one Windows zealot site.
Athens was introduced last week at Microsoftis Winhec conference and many industry watchers couldnit help but wonder aloud where Microsoft and HP got their design ideas from. The unit features a widescreen flat panel display (with a fat, single umbilical cord running underneath the demonstration table to an unknown something), two arms that sport a camera and some other device, a wireless keyboard and mouse, an innovative new technology that offloads some of the display work to a video card (!!), flashing diodes embedded in the display, and a blue desktop image with a couple of swooshes swirling through it (at least one forum thread has images).
The parallels abound, from the display itself, to the single cord used for the display, to the display technology that sounds very much like Quartz Extreme, to the flashing diodes that sound similar to a patent Apple was granted for casing that can change according to dynamic conditions, to the very desktop image that very closely resembles the default Mac OS X desktop image. Mac zealots will scream that the entire thing was ripped off from Apple, while Apple haters will insist that Apple is irrelevant and that the camera on the arm sticking out from the MS/HP display makes Athens innovative. A middle-of-the-road position might be that there are an awful lot of coincidences between Apple technology and what was shown on the Athens.
That Microsoft and the PC industry, in general, take cues from Apple is nothing new. An article in the NY Times Online notes Appleis reaction to the Athens prototype, saying that Apple and Microsoft have been in word-war ever since Bill Gates offered his less than flattering opinion of the newly introduced iMac several years back. More importantly, the Times quotes Apple VP Phil Schiller as commenting on the Athens. From the article, Apple Tweaks Microsoft Over a New Computer:
Apple executives took obvious glee last week in noting that the software centerpiece of the Microsoft conference, new graphics software that is scheduled to appear in "Longhorn," Microsoftis 2005 version of its Windows operating system, apes features that have been in Appleis OS X operating system since 2001.
"You donit have to look too far to see that this is almost a direct copy of Quartz," said Philip W. Schiller, Appleis vice president of marketing, referring to the Macintosh software that controls the computeris display.
Microsoft executives declined to take the bait. "We only showed glimpses of the future of Longhorn," said a Microsoft spokesman. "Wait until the fall when weill go into more detail at the Professional Developers Conference."
Read the full article in the NY Times Online.
Note: The NY Times Online require a free registration.