I'll give Apple heavy kudos on this - they have managed to take something that other OS's have done and turn it into a very "cool" looking demo. The Dashboard is a "home to widgets", tools that let you perform common tasks and provide fast access to information.
Ummm....yes, Microsoft had something called the Digital Dashboard
but that was more about data.
Apple's demo of the Dashboard actually reminds me more of the "Active Desktop" (now, come on - be serious - how many of you still use the Active Desktop? - when I search for Active Desktop on the the MS web site, it takes me to a "The page you are looking for has been removed" but here's a link to a recent (well semi-recent) article. The description from Microsoft:
The Active Desktop interface lets you put "active content" from Web pages onto your desktop. For example, you could put a constantly updating stock ticker in a handy place on your desktop or make your favorite online newspaper your desktop wallpaper. You can make your desktop truly your own space by adding the active items you need to refer to on a regular basis: news, weather, sports, stock prices, or whatever you want to have at hand. Your desktop can now reflect you--your preferences and your style.
Kind of sounds the same? Wonder if the fate will be the same. I recall when it first came out, many end users turned it on only to have their IT people run around turning it off because it confused them so much. Hopefully Apple users will have a better experience (they typically do)
Yes, the Apple demo really does look very cool but as Ars Technico notes : You can probably guess that those special effects won't work on every Mac out there.
Apple - Mac OS X - Theater - Dashboard