Industrial Aqua: OS X Envy

Tedium has the backstory on a movement that took place in the aughts to make Windows machines look like they were running the Mac OS. During that decade, there were plenty of reasons to be running a Windows box instead of a Mac (not the least of which was cost). There was something so sleek and attractive about OS X that just made people wish the user interface on their Windows PC looked a bit more like the Mac.

But something about the chrome-laden interface, one that Steve Jobs spoke of in terms of “fit and finish,” really put the system in a different place. Sure, there were other operating systems that held a certain kind of appeal during the era, but Mac OS X was different. It was a bit over-the-top, like the early iMacs in their Bondi Blue cases, and that boldness spoke to people.

It wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but enough teacups were being served that it was clear that it would eventually be one of the biggest selling points for the Mac. And eventually, thanks to the mainstream success of the iPod and the iPhone, plenty more teacups would be served after that.

To meet the demand, a number of options popped up to reskin Windows to appear to be running OS X. While I tried quite a few of the tools mentioned in the article with my Windows machines back in the day, the customizations never stuck. The screenshots of these skinned desktops looked so great, but I would inevitably find holes in the OS that weren’t skinned and didn’t look right. That bothered me to the point of abandoning the whole effort and sticking with the default Windows skins. It’s worth noting, though, that Microsoft made some effort to encourage customization of the UI, whereas Apple has done everything they can to squash it. It’s almost impossible to make any meaningful UI customizations on MacOS at this point, whereas a quick peruse through a GUI customization site like Digital Vanity shows that people are still modding Windows in interesting ways.

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