12 'El Capitan' features that Apple totally ripped off from Windows

And one dumb idea that Apple itself came up with.

windows 10 hp stream microsoft
Rob Schultz/IDG

This should all seem very familiar

Apple launched “OS X 10.11 El Capitan” on Wednesday, an alphanumerical/geographical mishmash that deliciously contradicts Apple’s self-proclaimed minimalism in seventeen characters.

We don’t usually pay a whole lot of thought to Apple’s OS upgrades, aside from firing off snarky “It just works!” messages to our Macworld colleagues as they complain about the latest iOS updates. So when we started flipping through the latest features in the “El Cap” upgrade, it hit us: Haven’t we seen this before?

Yes, we have. So, being the lazy sods we are, we simply took that slideshow and made our own captions. Thanks, Macworld!

windows 10 api directx 12 microsoft

Metal APIs: Thanks, Windows 10! (and Windows 7)

A low-level API that allows the operating system to take advantage of the system’s GPU hardware? Fantastic! Apple’s Metal API promises drastically reduced overhead, graphics and compute capabilities, and so on and so on. Well, that’s lovely—except Microsoft launched DirectX 12 on July 29.

But Metal! It was launched earlier, in iOS 8! Yes, yes. But y’know, if we’re going to talk about GPU acceleration in Windows, we should go all the way back to Windows 7—October 2009, to be specific. That’s when Microsoft added GPU acceleration to Windows.

Oh, do you know what else happened in 2009? Apple sued Psystar out of existence. You know, the company that tried to copy them?


Windows 10 Snap snap view microsoft

Apple's Split View: why not just call it Snap?

Split view in El Capitan makes full-screen mode twice as useful by letting you split your screen between two apps,” MacWorld writes.

Oooooh. How many apps? Two? Oooooh.

Of course, if you want to get some real work done, you could buy yourself a Windows 10 PC, a nice monitor, and open up four windows on a single monitor with Windows Snap. And then get another monitor and do it again. But good try, Apple.

Windows 10 Task View Microsoft

Task View: Alt-Tab by any other name

Hmm, a way to look at all your open windows on the desktop, all at once? And flip through them? Where have we seen this before?

Well, the Apple fans cry, you saw this in Expose, which gave rise to Task View in OS X 10.3. And Expose debuted in 2003! Well yes, but Alt-Tab debuted in 1990. With Windows 3.0. And anyway, Apple’s Task View sort of stinks compared to the Windows 10 Task View. I mean, if you’re going to rip off the name, Apple, try to do it without coming off as a cheap imitation.

Windows 10 cursor fart apps

Make your cursor bigger by shaking it. Oh-kay.

Well, we're just going to say it: We're just kind of embarrassed for you, Apple. No, Windows doesn't do this. But Windows didn't make a name for itself selling fart apps, either.

Microsoft Cortana Windows 10

Spotlight: Windows people call this feature 'Cortana'

Siri? Siri? See-reee... where arrrrrrre you... You could spend all day poring through El Capitan for Siri, Apple’s digital assistant. But she’s not there!

Instead, Windows users have to make do with Cortana, a full-fledged digital assistant who can actually do stuff—answer questions, set reminders, and the like. One day Apple will be bold enough to put Siri on the Mac. One day.

Windows 10 Mail app

Mail grabs new contacts--and so does Outlook

What am I doing? Oh, just going through my Windows 10 Mail app. You know, the one that highlights contacts and dates, and adds them to your Calendar if you so choose. Oh, I see you do that now too, Apple Mail. That's adorable.

Windows 10 Mail app

Full-screen OS X Mail? Minimizing email messages? AMAZING

With El Capitan, Apple totally reimagined email by allowing email messages to be opened in full screen mode and then minimized as well. This is incredible. Except, you know, we've been able to do this in Windows since, forever? (Technically, it was Outlook 2013, where you can reply and "Pop Out" that reply into full-screen mode.)

Windows 10 mail swipe

What? What? Mail gestures?!

Hey, did you know that Mac OS X El Capitan Westworld 10.4e5 has Mail gestures? Yes! You can actually swipe left or right on an email and stuff happens! Of course, you can do this on Windows 10 Mail—and, get this—you can actually do it on the screen. Because Windows has touchscreens. Macs, well, don’t. Unless you call them Retina Displays and try to balance them without kickstands. Because ergonomics.

windows maps directions

You can send directions from Apple Maps to your phone. Yay?

So Apple Maps now charts directions using public transportation in “select” cities, and then sends that information to your phone.

Let’s just pause here for a second.

So one, Apple can’t be bothered to dig out public transportation directions for more than a handful of cities. Listen, you elitists, schlepping it from bus to train to skateboard is the only way your customers can afford your $4,000 Intel PC. And now you want them to have to move somewhere your maps actually cover? 

And two, can we be sure now that Apple will actually provide accurate directions, or will they route you from Penn Station to Coney Island by way of Atlantis? 

Meanwhile, in Windows land, we just ask Cortana for directions on our phone. I know, I know—boring.

windows 10 bye menu bar

Now where have we seen a dark theme before? Oh yes, Windows 10

Universal Windows apps have a fairly low-key option that you can find in the Settings: the ability to swap between a dark (black) and light (white) background. Lo and behold, that option is now in El Capitan, too. 

There's also an option to hide the menu bar in Mac apps. If your 5K (is that the price, or the resolution?) monitor isn't big enough, that might come in handy. But hiding the menu bar (or Ribbon) has been a feature of Microsoft Office for some time, and you can do the same in Internet Explorer. Try again, Apple.

Edit: Some of you have pointed out that dark mode was released as part of OS X "Yosemite" in Oct. 2014, predating Windows 10. Fair enough. Microsoft, however, created a dark mode for Windows XP, dubbed Royale Noir.

windows 10 edge pinned tabs

Tab pinning, a feature Apple stole from...

Okay, okay, you got us. Apple stole this one from Google, not Windows.

You may or not be aware that Chrome offers a “pin tab” option. (Right-click a tab to see this option.) Pinning a tab keeps the tab active, but shrinks the tab’s presence down to an icon—and removes the “X”, so you can’t accidentally close them, either.

Microsoft doesn’t offer tab pinning—oh wait, yes it does. You can take a tab and pin it to the Start menu. Quiet, all you Apple fans howling for blood. Don’t El Cap pinned tabs never go away? Well, that’s what a pinned Edge tab does. It’s always there, waiting for you to take advantage of it, in the Start menu. (Don’t worry, Apple’s probably working on 'reinventing' that next.)

windows 10 edge mute tabs

Tab muting? C'mon, Apple

Tab muting—yes, it’s in Windows 10’s Edge browser. It’s in Chrome. It’s in... *sigh*

Okay, we’re done.

Browse our comment threads, and sooner or later our writers will be accused of being Apple haters. We’re not. We have nothing against Apple. But someone needs to point out that the features Apple touts as being game-changing, worthy of praise and national attention, largely have been done before. Apple just created its own Beats 1 radio station, for Pete’s sake, and caused the Internet to fall all over itself critically analyzing its social impact. A radio station

There was a time when Microsoft had stagnated, when it coasted on its legacy of being the PC operating system. That time is ending. Now Apple is the one playing catchup.

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