Did Apple hire the Microsoft Bob guys to work on OS X 10.5 Leopard?

Apple has given its first preview of its 64-bit OS X 10.5 Leopard to attendees of its Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco.

New features include the ability to use multiple virtual desktops which users can switch between via an Expose-like view. It’s possible to drag windows between the desktops:

A new version of Apple Mail that introduces a ‘stationery’ feature to make it drag-and-drop easy to send holiday letters to your friends and family [hardly a feature that’s going to make people rush out to the shops to buy Leopard]:

A new version of iChat that allows users to insert different scenic backgrounds behind them similar to what the ChatFX plugin already does [though developer Julian Miller doesn’t think Apple has ripped his idea off].

The ability to make your own Dashboard Widgets using the Dashcode application:

And an updated version of Apple’s Spotlight desktop search which can search file servers as well as your desktop Mac previews of found documents in search results and a proper boolean syntax such as “AND” “OR” and “NOT” to make searching more precise.

There are other features including an updated version of iCal which can share calendars securely between multiple users and better accessibility including speech synthesis that sounds more natural.
The “Time Machine” feature offers similar functionality to Windows Vista’s “Previous Versions” allowing users to restore overwritten or deleted files (or application data like Address Book cards).

It is accompanied by a very unfortunate 3D starscape scene to help Mac users get into the whole Time Machine concept.

We can’t help thinking this feature was devised by the same guys who worked on Microsoft Bob. Hopefully Apple comes to its senses and makes this feature a bit less gaudy before release.

Below: Apple Time Machine and Microsoft Bob: separated at birth?

On a less condescending and more useful note Leopard includes “CoreAnimation” — an API which Apple says will “take the headache” out of layered animation effects in the OS.

All in all it seems that Leopard is an evolution of OS X 10.4 rather than introducing revolutionary new features. Hopefully Apple has one or two other killer features to show before release.