I mentioned this in the past, but I had to touch on this on its own because it's a huge problem. There is a somewhat common outlook that Microsoft isn't an innovator. This is hugely incorrect. While throwing money around doesn't say anything about what is produced, Microsoft puts more money towards research than any other IT company. That, in itself, should speak to the importance of innovation to Microsoft and its future. Microsoft Research recently passed its 15th birthday . If this is something you're interested in, check out the video that sums up those 15 years. Of course, this doesn't speak enough towards the level of effort put into the company's research arm.
Here's a big annoyance to me... surprise, surprise, Vista is being looked at as a Mac clone. Why? Good question. I asked a Mac fan why he feels this way and he pointed out two things: the desktop background and Mac's widgets. Later, he pointed to the somewhat popular video that tries to point out similarities. That video pointed out desktop search, 3D chess, triangles as directory hierarchy markers (instead of +/- icons), the calendar/scheduling program, and the photo gallery. All of this is ridiculous. First off, I have to say that Apple didn't invent any of these concepts. If I had the time and cared enough, I'd track down the initial use of each of these features and I'd put money on the fact that none of them would be Apple. Apple is more of a design/usability company than a feature/capability innovator. I'm not going to get into defending against these ridiculous claims, but I can. These features don't even make up a significant portion of the operating system. Anyone who bases their opinion off of these "examples" is an idiot... including the New York Times guy. I don't remember his name, but I don't care enough to find out.
With all that said, I'm not saying Microsoft doesn't have room to grow. The most notable innovation of late is probably going to be the Office ribbon. I have to say I love it. I had my doubts, but it's a fantastic change that will definitely make life easier for everyone. The only problems I've heard of is transitioning from the old, menu-based structure to the ribbon layout. Speaking of this, we should see similar changes in the next version or two of Windows (1 , 2 , 3 ), which I'm excited about.