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Apple surrenders the Pink (to Microsoft)

Zune pilfers famous codename

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And so it has come to this: Microsoft has stooped so low as to filch Apple's codenames.

This week, Steve Ballmer reiterated that Redmond has no interest in building a Zune phone. Praise be. But he did say the company is prepping Zune software and services for the Windows Mobile platform, and according to sources whispering to ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, this semi-secret endeavor is codenamed "Pink."

So, more than thirty years after stealing Apple's operating system, Microsoft has shamelessly stolen its operating system codename. Pink was the sobriquet of the ill-fated late-80s Apple OS project that eventually spun off into a joint Apple-IBM venture known as Taligent.

Around 1987 or '88, after the Steves (Jobs and Wozniak) had departed the company, Apple's top software engineers gathered to brainstorm a next-generation Mac operating system. Ideas for a revision of the current platform were written on blue index cards. Proposals for an OS of the distant future were scribbled on red cards. And thoughts that landed somewhere in-between were sketched out on, yes, pink cards.

Pink would be an object-oriented operating system written in C++ atop a brand new microkernel, and when IBM and Apple dumbfounded the planet with their PowerPC partnership in the summer of 1991, Apple's then chief executive John Sculley said developers had written 1.5 million lines of Pink code. But under the aegis of Taligent - a conflation of "talent" and "intelligent," if you must know - the kernel was eventually abandoned and Pink faded into distant memory.

Until now - with Microsoft once again exercising its knack for repeating what others have already done.

You can read more about the (real) Pink here, here, and here. Though we suggest you avoid Wikipedia's Taligent entry, which is unsourced, riddled with mistakes, and could have been written by almost anyone. ®

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