Microsoft and Mac OS X’s Aqua-inspired Windows XP theme

Windows XP Aqua Apple theme

When Microsoft copied Apple : with the latest leaks, a Windows XP theme inspired by Mac OS X's Aqua , the characteristic graphic theme of the operating systems of the Cupertino house, was disclosed.

The 1990s and 2000s were very important for Apple and Microsoft, in a constant struggle for technological supremacy. It is not strange that the two companies took inspiration from each other , continuously copying and revising characteristic elements of the competitor to improve them and make them their own.

Mac OS X's “Aqua” theme

Aquais a theme developed by Apple in 2000 , presented for the first time at the Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco. Successor to the “Platinum” theme, Aqua has changed its appearance very often, up to the 2014 version in OS X Yosemite.

The theme is characterized by “droplet-like” components with reflection and translucency effects. The predominant colors are gray, white and blue, also in the metallic version. Widgets are “floating” on the screen, even going over the other icons. When a widget is added it shows up with a ripple-ripple animation, like throwing a stone into the water.

The ripple effect in the MacOS Aqua theme. Credits: / Wikiwand
The ripple effect in the MacOS Aqua theme. Credits: / Wikiwand

“Aqua” is the basic theme of Apple's desktop systems , known for the translucent buttons (red, yellow and green) used to control windows. The window manager behind Aqua is Quartz Compositor , the engine that takes care of updating / assembling windows and managing all events related to them.

Microsoft and the Aqua-inspired Windows XP theme

The leak of the Microsoft XP source code a few days ago also revealed several themes that the company had developed for the new operating system. Among these we find “Candy”, a Microsoft theme for Windows XP inspired by Mac OS Aqua . The definition of the graphics is not complete and lacks many elements, but in the main ones you can find details very similar to the Apple theme.

“Candy” has many of the characteristic elements of “Aqua” , starting with the start button. Its rounded and translucent shape brings to mind a drop. Other elements, such as the action buttons and the windows themselves, are also rounded and with colors similar to those of “Aqua”.

The Microsoft theme for Windows XP inspired by Max OS X Aqua. Credits:
The Microsoft theme for Windows XP inspired by Max OS X Aqua. Credits:

The theme was never released by Microsoft – it was used as a first base to develop the blue and green theme we know well. The graphics inspired by Apple acted as a "placeholder" for what became the definitive theme, providing some elements of inspiration. In the leak, the theme is described as "Whistler skin for eye candy": "Whistler" was the codename for Windows XP . In the leak, the graphics are marked as "for internal use only".

Microsoft therefore never intended to release a theme equal to that of its competitor, but rather to use it as a base from which to derive key elements from which to develop your own graphics. You immediately notice the change: the graphics before XP are square and opaque, very different from the next.

In Windows XP we find in fact the rounding of the buttons and the addition of "depth" to the color , given by glossy and translucent effects inspired by "Aqua". Along with the theme came the ability to customize and add third party themes.

The Microsoft article and Mac OS X Aqua-inspired Windows XP theme comes from TechCuE .