The main problem with that analogy is that Jobs bought that TV set from Xerox. Xerox freely let Apple see what they were working on with the understanding that Apple would use some of these ideas. In exchange for this, Xerox got to profit from the resulting increase in the stock price - they got a bunch of early Apple stock. The bulk of this transaction was aboveboard and mutually beneficial.
Microsoft didn't pay for Apple's info; they got access to it under a pretext and did not in return put Apple in a position to profit from what was used.
Here's what Andy Hertzfeld says about it:
Well, we had no formal relationship with PARC while we were developing the Mac. We got a single demo before the Mac project got off the ground, when the LISA project, that sort of cousin or bigger brother of the Mac, was in development. And so from that one demo we were already pointed in that direction but I would say that Xerox PARC demo galvanized and reinforced our strong opinion that the graphic user-interface was the way to go. And then the influence of PARC was strong in the project, but not through a formal relationship with PARC; more through PARC people getting wind of what we were doing and coming to work at Apple.
And note that Gates also visited Xerox PARC in the same time frame. And speaking of people leaving PARC to work at Apple -- Simonyi applied to Microsoft in 1981. Clearly he was fairly familiar with the work at PARC.
All this is to say that claiming that Apple had exlusive rights to the Xerox technology and everything Microsoft learned about it came from Apple is an absurd claim. Bill's quote is pretty accurate.
A legal transaction can still be considered stealing, and I think it's very easy to say that Xerox didn't realize what they were giving away. Now the thing is, when transacting with an entity like Xerox, it probably can't be considered criminal. :)
No, if you want to redeem the claim that Apple "stole" from Xerox you can't really do it based on the ideas that came out of those meetings.
The one thing Apple did that was vaguely disreputable is: they then hired away many of the key Xerox people. You can't say they "stole" the ideas but they did "steal" the employees. Not in the sense that it was illegal - employees have free will and freedom of contract and there was no non-compete clause - but that this went beyond what Xerox reasonably expected to come out of the transaction, so you can see how Xerox might have been miffed.
Short term Steve Job's model of doing things has worked out really well, but if it was allowed to continue (and grow) at the rate it was, it would have created a stagnant world where having a screen on a phone would be patented by Apple.
Tim Cook is an excellent choice for the next CEO and he will probably do very nicely at Apple; his changes are very welcome in my mind.
In fairness, I think he did both.
I disagree because Jobs/Apple looked at the xerox stuff and improved on it, drop down menus, overlapping windows etc. Whereas Microsoft just copied what Apple had done, bringing no new ideas to the table.
One account of the differences is here:
According to Bruce Horn:
"There is a significant difference between using the Mac and Smalltalk. [Xerox PARC Alto Workstation] Smalltalk has no Finder, and no need for one, really. Drag-and- drop file manipulation came from the Mac group, along with many other unique concepts: resources and dual-fork files for storing layout and international information apart from code; definition procedures; drag-and-drop system extension and configuration; types and creators for files; direct manipulation editing of document, disk, and application names; redundant typed data for the clipboard; multiple views of the file system; desk accessories; and control panels, among others.
The [Apple] Lisa group invented some fundamental concepts as well: pull down menus, the imaging and windowing models based on QuickDraw, the clipboard, and cleanly internationalizable software. The Mac and Lisa designers had to invent their own architectures."