Is Apple About to Copy Microsoft for Once?

Over the decades, there has been a long history of Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) copying Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) . This trend most notably started with the graphical user interface, or GUI, that the Mac first brought to consumer PCs and was subsequently followed by Windows.

Another prominent example would be the Zune, which had hoped to muscle in on the iPod's success, but largely failed. Most recently, Microsoft's entire business strategy may be transitioning toward Apple's ways, as Steve Ballmer has made it abundantly clear that Microsoft's future lies in becoming a "devices-and-services" company, a departure from its predominantly software approach.

Well, Apple may be about to copy its rival from Redmond for once.

Apple is just weeks away from kicking off its Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC. The headliner at the event will be iOS 7, which is expected to see its first aesthetic overhaul in years. Numerous rumors over the past couple months have pointed to design chief Jony Ive pursuing a more "flat design."

Further backing up these claims is a fresh report out of 9to5Mac, whose own sources deep within Cupertino echo the notion that Ive is going for a "very, very flat" look in the next major version of Apple's most important operating system. All of the current usage of glossy, shiny, and skeuomorphic textures are all going by the wayside in favor of a modern look. In fact, iOS 7's "flatness" is said to approach that of Windows Phone.

Windows Phone 8 Start Screens. Source: Microsoft.

Microsoft's "Metro" design has been praised as a modern and innovative take on touch interfaces. Using live tiles to present dynamic information has also been a key selling feature of Windows Phone. I've always been a fan of the typographical style, even though the broader market hasn't voted in its favor.

The new iOS version reportedly goes by the internal codename of "Innsbruck," and will feature freshly designed interface elements throughout the OS.

If Apple's WWDC teaser image carries any clues about the design direction that iOS is taking, then the Mac maker might be heading in the same aesthetic direction as the software giant.

There's a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (3)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On April 30, 2013, at 10:21 PM, mdl00 wrote:

    Why on earth do you think that Apple is not aware of reviews of Windows 8's interface?

  • Report this Comment On April 30, 2013, at 10:38 PM, tychicum wrote:

    The HP/Palm WebOS "cards" is the way to go. They were live and could be dismissed with the flick of a finger. With a couple years of development I could really see that feature becoming popular.

  • Report this Comment On May 01, 2013, at 9:55 AM, HerpaDerp wrote:

    Some tech history:

    The original Zune was a chunk. It's only call to fame was that it went from an idea to a device, software, and supporting service in 9 months flat.

    The Windows 8 UI, originally called Metro is a descendant of the UI developed for the ZuneHD. The few that purchased it recognized it was well researched and a purposefully designed for a device screen rather than just porting a large screen design down to a small one. (the iPhone by comparison uses the circa 1990 Windows 3.1 grid-of-icons interface). Essentially the rumor is that apple is about to copy something Microsoft did ages ago.

    This is not the first time.

    The direct to camera button on the iPhone? Came from Windows phone. Wireless device sync? Came from the original chunky brown Zune.

    The library in iTunes? media player and (you guessed it), Zune.

    Automatic upload of pics as you take them? I would say Apple is copying Microsoft here but the attempt so far is too feeble. Windows 8, Windows Phone and the cloud are seemless far beyond mere pictures.

    Twitter, Facebook and others integrated into the OS itself? Again.. the attempt thusfar is too feeble.

    The list goes on and this isn't to say it doesn't happen the other way around. Microsoft's problem is the brilliant things they come up with are lost in the small marketshare until Apple (or Google) copies into another ecosystem. Take a look at the R&D budget of Microsoft. You may ask what is in the Apple pipeline because you are worried there isn't much. You'll have to ask the same of Microsoft because you can't keep track of it all.

    As for Microsoft copying the GUI? C'mon guys. Sure they did...but they did so from Xerox. Apple didn't come up with that.

    Disclosure: I'm obviously a shill. But even shills can be right.

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