Call me crazy, but I just don't get too excited over new computer operating systems, whether for Macs or PCs or Commodores. (OK, that last one was a joke but some days I actually miss the simplicity of my Commodore Vic 20.)
That said, Tuesday marks a milestone. After some delays, Microsoft is rolling out its latest OS offering with Windows Vista. Several years, billions of dollars and millions of lines of code later it's finally ready for you to install. The company touts better security, ease-of-use and plenty of multi-media whizbang. (Be sure to check out CBS Technology Analyst Larry Magid's guide to installing Vista.)
But it also comes with something you won't find in the box: accusations by many in the tech industry who say it's rather (perhaps eerily) similar to parts of Apple's OS X. Technology columnist David Pogue is one of those people, and he drops by on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric to show us why he's so convinced.
He's certainly not alone, and this debate has actually been going on for decades. It many ways it stems back to the days of bell bottoms and big hair when Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were college dropouts toiling in their garages. It intensified when Apple lost a federal lawsuit in the mid-1990s over charges that Microsoft copied the look the Mac operating system for early versions of Windows. Today Apple only claims a small fraction of the home computer market but it dominates the landscape of digital music players with its ever-present iPod. So when Microsoft last year released its digital music player, the Zune, the cries of copycat rose again.
Ultimately, you can decide for yourself. And I mean that in two ways: one, deciding whether there's any copying going on, and, two, because you can always decide to use an alternative to either Microsoft or Apple.
The leaders of both companies are now billionaires so it's hard to say there were any real losers in this war. But perhaps it's fair to say when it comes to Microsoft and Apple, imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery.