Experimental Windows XP theme aped Mac's Aqua user interface

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 2020
A recent source code leak reveals Microsoft built and tested a number of divergent themes for Windows XP, with one closely resembling Apple's legendary Aqua GUI.

Windows XP Candy


Among a cache of Windows XP source code files that leaked online Friday are a variety of unused, sometimes incomplete, UI themes Microsoft created for its early 2000s operating system, reports The Verge.

One theme, dubbed "Candy," will be very familiar to anyone who has used a Mac running Mac OS X 10.0. A number of UI elements closely resemble or match Apple's Aqua theme, a fact perhaps most apparent in shiny, rounded window buttons designed to mimic droplets of water.

Aqua debuted at the Macworld Conference & Expo in 2000 and made its way onto Mac a year later. The theme uses a unique combination of depth through shadows, bright colors, translucency, rounded interactive assets and textures to create the appearance of liquid or gel sitting on metal plates.

According to The Verge, "Candy" was present in early source code for Windows XP, with developers using the skin as a placeholder as they built out the operating system's theme engine. Files refer to the theme as a "Whistler skin with eye candy," and are marked as "for internal use only," the report says. Microsoft referred to Windows XP as "Whistler" prior to its market debut.

The Redmond, Wash., software giant ultimately landed on a blue, green and silver theme called Luna. While it incorporated shadows and gradients to indicate depth, Luna lacked the translucency that Aqua provided, making it more akin to traditional Windows versions.

Apple and Microsoft have for decades battled in the desktop operating system space, with each company looking to outdo the other on features, capabilities and style with every new release. As the most prominent user-facing element, themes were often viewed as a key differentiator. In recent years, however, the focus has turned to more functional aspects like reliability, security and performance.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    Microsoft never had an original idea. 
    aderutterlkruppchristopher126lordjohnwhorfinwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 18
    anomeanome Posts: 1,443member
    I used to joke that MS's R&D department was just a couple of guys with a subscription to MacWorld, and it's this kind of shit that made it funny.
    EsquireCatsfotoformatlkruppsphericlordjohnwhorfinwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 18
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,771member
    Because Microsoft thinks that beauty is only skin deep. 
    jdb8167watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 18
    Back in those days, the eye candy wasn’t universally accepted on the Mac. Some people complained from the OSX betas that Apple would implement a UI that was too processor intensive.  Jobs, as I recall, responded that CPUs would progress to the point it wouldn’t matter. And they did. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 18
    Huh? From the screenshot, the only part that resembles aqua is the dialog buttons and the scroll dragger. It's hardly accurate to say that the entire theme is Mac-like.
    edited September 2020 lkrupp
  • Reply 6 of 18
    williamh said:
    Back in those days, the eye candy wasn’t universally accepted on the Mac. Some people complained from the OSX betas that Apple would implement a UI that was too processor intensive.  Jobs, as I recall, responded that CPUs would progress to the point it wouldn’t matter. And they did. 

    And then Apple turned the UI into flat and ugly.
    lkrupp
  • Reply 7 of 18
    Stop the presses, you mean Microsoft was caught copying an Apple idea.  Wow that’s a first. NOT. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 18
    sphericspheric Posts: 2,068member
    williamh said:
    Back in those days, the eye candy wasn’t universally accepted on the Mac. Some people complained from the OSX betas that Apple would implement a UI that was too processor intensive.  Jobs, as I recall, responded that CPUs would progress to the point it wouldn’t matter. And they did. 
    Yeah, but it took half a decade to reach that point. 10.4.11 was a great OS, but even then, the window buffering and translucency were taxing on current hardware. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 18
    williamh said:
    Back in those days, the eye candy wasn’t universally accepted on the Mac. Some people complained from the OSX betas that Apple would implement a UI that was too processor intensive.  Jobs, as I recall, responded that CPUs would progress to the point it wouldn’t matter. And they did. 
    Among one of the failures of Steve Jobs, in my opinion. Hard to take the new UNIX Mac OS seriously when it looked like it was fresh out of a candy store. 
  • Reply 10 of 18
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,044member
    Rayz2016 said:
    Because Microsoft thinks that beauty is only skin deep. 
    Exactly. I switched to Macs years ago because the OS was better. 

    It always puzzles me how big of a deal the superficial appearance is for some people. Bloggers gush about the rounded corners or translucent window headers but forget about stability, security, etc. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 18
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,613member
    No big deal. Windows has long had the ability to be "re-skinned" and third party apps like WindowBlinds allows users to select and customize the "look & feel" of many visual aspects and some behaviors of the Windows user interface to varying degrees, even changing the shape of windows, including buttons. This is simply a consequence of the modularity of the UI design that Microsoft implemented. Even way back in the days when Microsoft had two major Windows branches with widely divergent UIs, one based on Windows NT and one based of Windows 95, Microsoft itself provided a way to re-skin Windows NT to make it "look & feel" very similar to Windows 95. Eventually Windows 2000 codified the Windows 95/98 UI "look & feel" directly into the NT based OS build. 

    The important thing to remember here is that there is a big difference between "look & feel" and "user experience" or UX. Copying some aspects of Apple's "look & feel" on top of the Windows operating system, be it Windows XP or Windows 10, will never transform Windows OS into macOS, period. The behavioral aspects of an OS, things the OS does to hide/abstract the underlying OS complexity from the user, the consistency of workflows across user interactions in the OS, default behaviors, and how the OS accommodates varying levels of user, etc., are just a few of very many things that go well beyond defining an operating systems UX as opposed to its "look & feel."

    A great way to experience the delta between "look & feel" and UX is to try the "Twister OS" on your Raspberry Pi 4. It's an impressive implementation of Windows 10 or macOS "look & feel" that runs on a Raspberry Pi 4. In the Windows 10 version they even provide an x86 emulator to run some x86 code on the Raspberry Pi ARM chip. It's an impressive implementation, but in no way does the UX come close to what you get with the operating systems that it is copying from a "look & feel" standpoint. It provides the UX of the underlying operating system, Raspberry Pi OS (Raspbian) with a Windows 10 (or macOS) skin. I have only tried the Windows 10 version. 

    It's kind of like people who wear the uniform shirt of their favorite athlete. If you're doing it to pay homage or advertise your support of the player, that's one thing. If putting on the shirt makes you think you can take the field and perform at the same level as the professional athlete, you're in serious trouble. So thank you Microsoft for paying homage to Mac OS by trying on the Aqua shirt, but be very careful with what you try do while wearing it so as not to embarrass or injure yourself.
    edited September 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 18
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,610member
    JinTech said:
    Among one of the failures of Steve Jobs, in my opinion. Hard to take the new UNIX Mac OS seriously when it looked like it was fresh out of a candy store. 
    Emphasize the word "opinion" because whether you liked it or not, it was a success and also differentiated it at the time from the stale, cold interface that was Windows XP.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 18
    donjuan said:
    Microsoft never had an original idea. 
    And Apple has?  

    Here's a news flash. Apple didn't come up with the idea of the personal computer, graphical user interface, portable music player, printer, monitor, laptop, smartphone, smart speaker, tablet, wireless charging, bluetooth ear buds, or smart watch.  All of these things existed long before Apple decided to create their own embodiment.  
    edited September 2020 cloudguytyler82
  • Reply 14 of 18
    Apple and Microsoft were still under cross license agreement at that time right? I recalled also seeing Windows Movie Maker looking like verbatim copy of iMovie except its UI was mirrored for differentiating purposes.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 18
    donjuan said:
    Microsoft never had an original idea. 
    The binders and binders full of patents and protocols that Microsoft invented say otherwise. Seriously, they literally have among the most patents in history.

    Microsoft engineers come out with tons of great ideas. They are held back by:

    1. management - though this has become much less of a problem under Nadella than in previous eras
    2. business needs (such as backwards compatibility)

    What Microsoft is trying to do is use the cloud to help them overcome both barriers. 
  • Reply 16 of 18
    sflocal said:
    JinTech said:
    Among one of the failures of Steve Jobs, in my opinion. Hard to take the new UNIX Mac OS seriously when it looked like it was fresh out of a candy store. 
    Emphasize the word "opinion" because whether you liked it or not, it was a success and also differentiated it at the time from the stale, cold interface that was Windows XP.
    Mac OS X is/was successful yes, Aqua? Not so much. Just like the "Toilet Seat Cover iBook"....
    edited September 2020
  • Reply 17 of 18
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,538member
    Those of us who have been here long enough know that this is not a story. We knew this back when it came out. I’ve been a member since January 99.   Believe me, this was covered. 
    tyler82watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 18
    donjuan said:
    Microsoft never had an original idea. 
    Making the worst out of everyone else's ideas is an original idea.
    watto_cobra
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