Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about the future of technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment:
At this week's World Wide Developers' Conference, Apple nary missed an opportunity to jest at how certain features in Vista bear similarity to those in Mac OS 10.4, recalling banners from the 2004 geek gathering enjoining the developers of Windows to "start their photocopiers." However, the copy machines at Microsoft aren't the only ones free of cobwebs. For example, a decade before Spotlight shone in Tiger, utilities such as On Locaiton provided classic Mac OS lightning-fast index-based searches. And Konfabulator, now owned by Yahoo, inspired Dashboard.
Spaces, slated for Leopard, promises to be merely the best-implemented in a long line of virtual desktops long known to Unix users and even made available as a PowerToy from those Windows wannabes. And what of Time Machine, the fourth-dimensional feature that was the WWDC showstopper? Among its predecessors are System Restore, a drably named subset of Time Machine's functionality available since Windows ME; Rewind, a classic Mac OS utility once promised for Mac OS X; and GoBack, a PC utility that was purchased by Symantec. When I first saw GoBack, the earliest of these, which debuted at a DEMO conference, I thought it was one of the most ingenious pieces of software I'd ever seen -- even without Time Machine's extraterrestrial eye candy.