Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Desktop Pictures Taken by Steve Jobs

One of the few Apple keynote moments that has forever been lodged into my brain is the introduction of Mac OS X Leopard’s visual interface refresh at WWDC 2007. A year prior, Apple had previewed Leopard but said that they would be keeping some features secret for a little while to prevent copying — a playful jab at Microsoft, as it was struggling to ship Windows Vista at the time.

Anyway, it turned out that only a couple of new things were shown at WWDC 2007 since Apple was also trying to ship the iPhone by the end of June that year, and the new desktop design was the highlight.

But, when Steve Jobs showed it for the first time, the audience did not break into applause. After a couple of seconds of silence, they started laughing — not a typical reaction to a new feature shown at an Apple keynote presentation. One reason for that could be because, at that time, some builds of Microsoft’s glassy-looking Vista had a photo of grass set as the default wallpaper. Apple chose to introduce Leopard — which featured a translucent menu bar and reflective glass dock — with a similar photo of blades of grass.

Jobs justified the change by saying:

We’re not having the usual blue pattern because what we found out is that nobody uses it. Everybody puts their own digital photos on things now; and, so, we have come up with a desktop that’s really more suited to your digital photos. We’ve picked this one — we thought it was nice — but you’ll pick your own and throw it up there.

According to Chris Hynes, that couldn’t be more true: Jobs took that picture — and several others that were included with Leopard.