Daniel Eran Dilger in San Francisco
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Apple beats Microsoft in releasing Windows 8

Windows 8 Fanboy

Daniel Eran Dilger

Microsoft is still a year (and ahem) away from bringing Windows 8 and its new Metro UI to market, but Apple has already beaten the company in releasing a hardware accelerated, animated web browser. It’s called Safari 5.
..I have to say, watching Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott go gaga over a Core i3 notebook computer smoothly animating tiles on the screen is just too much. If you’re in awe of Microsoft’s ability to demonstrate smoothly animated graphics on a Intel computer with enough horsepower to need a fan, you should walk to an Apple Store and launch Safari.

Or don’t even launch Safari. Just flick the touchpad with four fingers and wet your pants as Mac OS X Lion smoothy animates between the main desktop, Dashboard, and any open virtual desktops you have. HARDWARE ACCELERATED GRAPHICS!!! It’s like 2002 is already here! GPU accelerated Quartz Extreme first shipped in Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar, folks.

This isn’t brilliant futuristic technology stuff, it’s pretty basic GPU accelerated OpenGL made easy to implement by Apple via LayerKit and Core Animation. It’s been used on the iPhone since it appeared in 2007. It was new and pretty impressive back then. It’s not going to be new next year, or whenever Windows 8 ships with Metro, Microsoft’s own animated browser for web apps.

Heck, even Palm shipped Metro back in 2009 under the name webOS. Why is Microsoft getting credit for being the last company on earth to ship mainstream technology?

Do you hate freedum and love terrorists?!

Gizmodo’s Mat Honan wrote one of the blog’s definitively childish screeds yesterday, whining that “if you already hate Windows 8, then you hate technology,” brilliantly penning “I hate the term fanboy. It’s a pejorative meant to denigrate someone’s opinion” just before referring to anyone being critical of Windows 8 as being part of the “Apple Taliban.”

Just for the record, I don’t “hate” Windows 8, I’m just not impressed to see Microsoft being hailed as “futuristic” for demonstrating early betas still a year away from fruition of its copy of work Apple pioneered several years ago.

Microsoft has distracted its vaporware demo audiences with the assurance that “Tiles” are some supersonic space age post-icon concept, when really they are just animated app icons with a lot going on inside. But Metro Tiles don’t represent new technology; they’re just an example of adding flash to something that doesn’t need it.

Apple has also avoided implementing Google’s similar flash-distraction home page widgets in Android, not because it can’t master the fine art and science of packing dynamic, animated content into the context of its app launcher, but because it thinks such widgets are not a good use of processing power and battery life.

Shame on the idiots who hate on Apple ideas until they’re copied by others 3-5 years later

When I see my Android friends around me run out of battery, I agree with Apple that my ability to keep launching apps and checking messages and watching video are all better uses of my battery than having a constantly animating display of the weather on my home screen. And a year from now, I don’t think I’ll miss having my Facebook icon not be a two inch square animating some random content as Metro promises to afford.

That’s distraction. The real technology behind the scenes, which Apple uses to functionally animate transitions to guide navigation and make iOS (and Mac OS X) feel responsive and look cool, is that OpenGL foundation Apple began laying in 2001 with Mac OS X, where everything on the screen was mapped to a surface just like the background walls of a third person shooter. It was new then, not in 2007 when Microsoft brought the same concept to the PC with Windows Vista.

And making it even easier, nearly automatic, for developers to avail themselves of this video game-style animation within their own apps via LayerKit on iOS and Core Animation in Mac OS X was new and cool in 2007 when Apple first began showing it off, not in 2010 when hardware-accelerated graphics made it to the stillborn Android 3.0 Honeycomb, or sometime next year when Microsoft releases Windows 8 with additional UI animations of its own.

Why are the people in awe of Microsoft and Google so profoundly unaware of all this?

28 comments

1 garysturn { 09.16.11 at 1:57 pm }

Fanboy has a new meaning now.

A Microsoft Fanboy is the kid responsible for holding the cooling fan and following you around with your new Windows 8 Tablet.

(He must be strong to to hold that huge cooling fan)

2 gctwnl { 09.16.11 at 2:27 pm }

A tablet with a fan? Not just the power needed to run the fan, but it means the thing gets so warm it actually needs a fan. That suggests a really great battery life. I wonder what Microsoft is thinking.

I was reminded of the following analogy. A Word Processor like Word is like a camper. Neither a very good solution for driving, nor for living, but the compromise has its uses. A setup with a TeX typesetting engine separates the two. You have your own ideal editor and the best layout of the planet, but both are separated.

This Windows 8 compromise seems like that. Not good as a a tablet (thick, noisy, bad battery), not good as a PC (not powerful enough, small screen). And I wonder if and how the compromise has its use.

Steve envisioned a world of cars (pad) and trucks (PC). He did not mention campers. Microsoft’s products are campers. We have been living in a world of campers for twenty years, and Apple has given us the car.

3 GamePlayInc { 09.16.11 at 2:40 pm }

@garysturn: lol :-)

About the applauncher: the iOS launchboard is too ristrictive if you ask me. Maybe they wanted every iOS device to be just instantly recognisible as one?

My desktop, which is fortnately still spatially organisable, looks a lot different. What happened to that metaphor? Why am I not allowed to put an app icon in the down right bottom? Why do they have to be left to right, top to bottom?

Some design decision made by Apple just make no sense to me.

@Daniel: As you so brilliantly explain, Microsofts relevance is evaporating at increasing rate, just like the ice caps lately. No need to help them, they are doing a great job on their own. Why are you so outraged about these futile efforts to stay relevant? (Or am I misreading) Are you afraid they will succeed?? :-)

4 NebulaClash { 09.16.11 at 3:02 pm }

@GamePlayInc:

I don’t think Daniel is so much outraged at Microsoft as he is over industry pundits and shills who dismiss Apple innovations when they occur, and then praise as something dynamic, new and wonderful when Microsoft releases more or less the same concept a few years later.

It’s either short memories or long biases.

5 garysturn { 09.16.11 at 3:28 pm }
6 Ludor { 09.16.11 at 3:59 pm }

garysturn: hot damn!

7 danieleran { 09.16.11 at 7:20 pm }

Thanks for the awesome graphic garysturn

8 bft { 09.16.11 at 8:26 pm }

I wish you would consider (if you haven’t already) writing on politics full-time. There’s a hole where Hunter S. Thompson was and while Matt Taibbi does a pretty good of filling it, I feel you would do better.

Please, oh please , oh please , oh please , oh please , oh please .

9 binaryArtisan { 09.16.11 at 8:44 pm }

Hey Daniel. Long time ‘fanboy’ of your articles.

I just had to log-in to say that this particular one, while short, resonated with me strongly, because way back in my dark pre-Apple days, there was one killer feature that made me sit up and pay attention, and I thought “Wow, that is so sensible and yet far more powerful than anything I’ve seen in Windows”. And it was shown to me on an original-gen white Intel Macbook.

It was Exposé on Tiger.

Simple little Exposé, that we all take for granted now on the Mac, contrasted so drastically with the windows I was used to that would tear and and flicker and redraw and flash…

well, back then, this article was timely…
http://dansdata.com/gz070.htm

…and it hasn’t gotten any better in the intervening time…
http://dansdata.com/gz114.htm

As you reiterated again here.

10 Extensor { 09.16.11 at 11:26 pm }

Dan, full screen animated sliding desktops have been around since 1985 on the Amiga computer.

11 counterproductive { 09.17.11 at 2:58 am }

“Or don’t even launch Safari. Just flick the touchpad with four fingers and wet your pants as Mac OS X Lion smoothy animates between the main desktop, Dashboard, and any open virtual desktops you have.”

I recently discovered an animation in Lion I hadn’t seen before: I like how Mail truncates previous, appended messages with an ellipsis when replied to, and when you click to reveal the full text from the earlier message, it smoothly unfolds like a paper accordion.

12 Ludor { 09.17.11 at 4:37 am }

Extensor: I suspect it functioned somewhat different.

13 kdaeseok { 09.18.11 at 1:09 pm }

You shouldn’t have mentioned Safari as your example, it’s not the worst, but far from the best browsers (Chrome and Firefox).

14 enzos { 09.19.11 at 1:10 am }

On the contrary, kd, it’s the only one with Reader, therefore it’s the best.

15 benlewis { 09.19.11 at 9:14 am }

@bft, I’ve thought the same thing. I’d be happy with more frequent writing as DED, which seems to be where the political stuff ends up. But I understand the need to pay bills…

16 kdaeseok { 09.19.11 at 11:10 am }

enzos/ check out Readability extension (for both Firefox and Chrome)

17 warlock7 { 09.19.11 at 12:31 pm }

@kdaeseok: You do realize that Chrome is just Safari under the hood right?!? So, how is Chrome better when it’s the same?

18 kdaeseok { 09.19.11 at 6:44 pm }

warlock7// Don’t know why you think Chrome is essentially Safari. Tell me why.
How is Chrome better than Safari? Go figure.
http://internet-browser-review.toptenreviews.com/

19 OneGeV { 09.20.11 at 7:51 am }

@kdaeseok: I took a brief look at their security features chart. For “Private Mode”, Firefox has a checkmark but Safari does not. Which is strange, as I can see “Private Browsing” in the Safari menu. And no checkmark for “Zoom”, which is in the View menu. The worst rating for Safari was for the feature set, and for some reason they missed a few.

20 warlock7 { 09.20.11 at 11:21 am }

@kdaeseok: Chrome is built on WebKit, which is Safari… So, Chrome comes from Safari… I’m surprised that you don’t seem to know that.

TTR rates Firefox one half point better than Chrome, IE, Opera and Safari on a four point scale. How does that lead you to believe that Chrome and Firefox are the best browsers? You should really look at and understand the ratings if you’re going to throw TTR out as your litmus. From their ratings: Safari, Opera, IE and Chrome are all in second place. So, Chrome, by your suggestion, is rated the same as Safari.

You really should put on your critical thinking cap before coming to this site.

21 warlock7 { 09.20.11 at 12:20 pm }

@OneGeV: If memory serves Safari had private browsing first back in 2005 with version 2.0. Chrome didn’t add it in until 2008. TTR does GREAT reviews don’t they?!?

MS ran those awful commercials with Dean Cain (Lois & Clark) and people vomiting. I don’t know if they ever aired, but they’re out there.

TTR claims that they reviewed Safari version 4 for their numbers, so it’s not the Lion version of Safari that they’re comparing.

Firefox 4 with no subversion or build number…
Chrome has no version or build number listed…
IE 9…
Opera 9.6…
Safari 4 with no subversion or build number. (certainly had private browsing in that version…)

22 enzos { 09.20.11 at 4:29 pm }

Having tried them out on both MacOS and Win7, I’ve found Chrome, Safari and Firefox all about equally fast and all fine by me, kd; it’s just that I prefer the way that Safari gets out of the way, focussing the user on the content rather than the package.. esp. with its *built-in* Reader function (which allows, e.g., multipage articles to be viewed in one go unobstructed by popups, assorted distractions and pointless eye candy)

23 kdaeseok { 09.21.11 at 3:34 am }

The fact Chrome is built on Webkit doesn’t make it another kind of Safari. It’s like claiming the Beatles and the Rolling Stones are the same bands because they started off from the same rock’n roll. Are Gears of War and Medal of Honor same game because they are using same UE3?
For the TTR rates, they give Firefox the gold medal, Chrome silver, and IE9 bronze. For the summary page for Safari, you’ll find these closing sentences.

Summary:
Safari is a solid web browser, and has most of the features a good browser should. If you want to have the Apple touch in your Internet, Safari is the way to go. However, we recommend our higher ranked browsers that feature a smart toolbar, parental controls, and more customization. See our reviews of better internet browsers, including Firefox, Google Chrome, and Internet Explorer.

And this is exactly what I tell others as well.
You may want to wait for some more time for the newest comparison if there’s any changes that Safari5 can bring in. I’d like to see it surpassing Opera.

24 warlock7 { 09.21.11 at 7:19 am }

@kdaeseok: WebKit is the core of the browsers. It’s how the DOM gets handled by the browser and it’s how the javascript gets handled which are the core components of any browser. Your band comparison is ridiculous. Your suggestion about the gaming graphics engines is closer, but still way off the mark. It’s more like the xBox or PS3 SDK that the graphical layer gets added to. So, at the heart of it, they are the same browser. The feature set and appearance that Google adds over that core functionality vs what Apple adds is how they are different.

I don’t see anything on TTR about gold/silver/bronze. I see ratings and positional rankings that clearly show a first place position and four second place positions.

As pointed out by others it appears that TTR isn’t doing a good job. Their feature set for Safari is wrong and has been since at least 2005 if you look at when they implemented private browsing. Kind of makes you wonder what they’re up to doesn’t it? When you look at those factors, they come across as being platform biased. They rank IE9 which showed up in March and Safari 4 even though Safari 5 showed up in June and it’s now September…

Funny too that the reviewer at TTR doesn’t know how parental controls work in Safari. Safari has parental controls, they’re apparently too hard to find or set up for the reviewer… They’re handled at the OS level in Windows (Internet Options) and OS X (Accounts in Preferences). Seems to me that we have a reviewer that is a biased Windows user and isn’t familiar with Macs or PCs or how to use them properly. At least three features are marked as not being in Safari that are in there… So how does that affect the rankings? Safari also has a Smart Toolbar implementation, it’s right there “Customize Toolbar”. Are they suggesting that you can’t develop toolbar changes for Safari? You can, it’s been part of XCode for a few years now… So, maybe Safari doesn’t have the “more customization” piece, which I’m not sure is true, since you have a Safari dev kit available through XCode to customize whatever you want in Safari.

Nope, I’ll form and keep my own opinions whenever I find reviews of products by those that either get it mostly wrong or that clearly have a bias against something. Better to form your own than to parrot those of others that are clearly wrong…

25 kdaeseok { 09.22.11 at 3:30 am }

Ah, just click on the reviews (of firefox, chrome, and ie) and you’ll find ‘Gold Award’, ‘Silver Award’, and ‘Bronze Award’ respectively.

26 warlock7 { 09.22.11 at 6:28 am }

None of which changes anything. Their reviews are for sh*t…

27 kdaeseok { 09.23.11 at 8:37 am }

yeah, I think Opera should score higher.

28 warlock7 { 09.23.11 at 9:30 am }

I agree Opera should rank higher. It has always been the most standards compliant browser on the market.

It would be nice if TTR evaluated that kind of thing too. There was always the ACID test, which evaluates browsers on their standards compliancy. A very accurate metric which they appear to ignore. Seems that each of the five big browsers all do it fairly well now… It wasn’t that way, not so long ago…

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