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View Full Version : The real truth about 10.5 Leopard


VanNess
Aug 21, 2006, 07:26 PM
I finally had a chance this weekend to, more or less, get caught up on some of the post WWDC keynote coverage about Leopard. After consuming various articles and podcasts that represented noted Mac luminaries such as Pogue, Breen, Laporte, etc., I have come to the conclusion that everybody got it wrong. And I mean really wrong.

Most of the coverage (in fact, just about 100% of it) primarily focused on and fawned over such obvious goodies as (my)Spaces and Time Machine. Understandable, since those where the "main" Leopard features that Jobs and company dangled in front of the audience at WWDC. But were they? What surprised me about the coverage was how little attention (all in all, virtually nothing) that was paid to the very first and by far the most important Leopard feature that Steve Jobs himself personally introduced: the TOP SECRETS™ Hardly a footnote about it.

Why is that the single most important feature of Leopard and the one that should be on the top of everyone's Leopard list? Well, a casual glance at past Stevenotes offers at least two clues. First, the fact that Apple has, in such a public way, reneged on disclosing features of it's forthcoming OS is unprecedented in prior keynotes. In the past, Apple has eagerly touted what it considered to be the "best of" features, but not this time. And oddly, Jobs wasn't the least bit secretive about the existence of...secrets. Clearly he wanted the world to know there was something, but "it" wasn't going to be revealed, at least not yet. This is simply astonishing behavior from Apple and it should be noted in no uncertain terms because that's what Apple, I believe, intended all along.

The second clue is that, in prior keynotes, the first OS X feature slot is usually reserved for the most important, ground-breaking, earth-shattering, life-changing OS X Superfeature. For Tiger, it was Spotlight. For Panther, it was the new Finder (IIRC). For Leopard, it was...well, a big fat blank to be filled in later. In other words, the first slot is always for something that's supposed to be a sure-fire attention grabbing wonder. So why then was the first slot devoted to the totally invisible feature TOP SECRETS™ and not Time Machine or (my)Spaces or, (sigh) new iChat fuzzballs? If you read the coverage concerning Leopard, you would get the impression that these features are Leopard. There it folks, thanks for reading or listening or watching. If that were the case, then why didn't Apple leave the TOP SECRETS™ for last - or not bother mentioning it at all?

The answer is, despite what you may have seen, and despite what you may have come to accept (brace yourselves now) we haven't seen Leopard yet. I know it's difficult to come to terms with, after all, Apple promised a preview of Leopard and whenever Apple has said it's going to preview the latest OS X in the past, that's exactly what you got. Well, not this time. What we got was a rather lackluster parade of goodies - most of them modest (and somewhat predictable) improvements to already existing stuff such as Mail, iChat, Dashboard, and so on. For the most part they aren't particularly bad, they're just not all that impressive. Certainly not keynote feature worthy, not for a grand next generation OS X preview. So here, have a Time Machine cookie instead. Or how about a nice warm (my)Spaces home-made biscuit so you won't go home empty-handed?

I understand that journalists have to write about something, and the attention that's being paid to things like Time machine is all well and good. But to represent this stuff as being the sum and total of Leopard is a mistake. Mentioning the perception that Tiger at least equals or in some instances bests Vista as an OS already - explaining the feature-poor Leopard showing - is just simply hitting the Kool-aid a little too hard. I think Apple is all too aware of Vista and it's implications for OS X when Vista is released. In fact, Apple has been there before when Windows 95 was released, and at that time Apple had virtually no response to it whatsoever other than filing a lawsuit. The result was Apple bled marketshare, lost the lawsuit, and went into a nosedive trying to come up with it's next generation Mac OS.


When Jobs says he wants to hold a few cards close to the chest with Leopard, you should take that seriously. Around the time Windows 95 was released (and before he came back to Apple) Jobs remarked that Apple had a ten year lead in technology over the competition with the Mac during his time with Apple, and after he left, Apple lost it's drive for innovation and the technology advantage basically vanished. Since he's returned, OS X was born and constantly improved to the point where Jobs would display a slide of the rear of a car racing alone into the distance during his keynotes, red taillights blazing, and proclaim that OS X has the competition once again staring at Apple taillights. It's a highbrow moment, but I think it also reveals Jobs determination to reinstate Apple's 10 year technology lead once again, present marketshare notwithstanding.

Thus - you haven't seen OS X 10.5 Leopard yet, at least not the parts of Leopard that really matter. I don't think Apple cares to repeat it's mid-nineties history and I think Apple (Jobs particularly) believes that MS could, at any time, delay Vista again for any reason. Even if MS shoulders another beating in the press, it realistically doesn't matter because Windows customers will essentially have no choice but to sit around and wait a little longer. Leopard and it's copy-proof TOP SECRETS™ will wait until Vista is released (or so close that it's impossible to stop) and then release Leopard. And when they do, Jobs will be able to pull out the taillights slide once again and tell his next keynote audience that the competition is still looking at Apple's taillights, and no one will have any reason to disagree.

If you think all of this is just raging Apple fanboyism, well, think different. You need to understand Jobs.

tipdrill407
Aug 21, 2006, 07:36 PM
Uhh... i think everyone knows this already.

treblah
Aug 21, 2006, 09:41 PM
…In fact, Apple has been there before when Windows 95 was released, and at that time Apple had virtually no response to it whatsoever other than filing a lawsuit. The result was Apple bled marketshare, lost the lawsuit, and went into a nosedive trying to come up with it's next generation Mac OS…

Apple sued Microsoft in 1988 after the release of Windows 2.0. The important feature of Panther was Exposé. Top Secret is marketing speak for 'not ready for prime time' and Vista is feature complete and about to hit RC1. Steve's "were keeping these features close to the vest so MS can't copy us" is pure BS used only to excite the non-developers/journalists watching the keynote.

someguy
Aug 21, 2006, 09:48 PM
Um. Tell us something we don't know.

Did you actually watch the WWDC? Jobs said himself that there were more features that will be revealed at a later date and that he's holding off on presenting them to make it harder for Microsoft to copy before Vista's scheduled release.

VanNess
Aug 22, 2006, 05:21 PM
Apple sued Microsoft in 1988 after the release of Windows 2.0. The important feature of Panther was Exposé. Top Secret is marketing speak for 'not ready for prime time' and Vista is feature complete and about to hit RC1. Steve's "were keeping these features close to the vest so MS can't copy us" is pure BS used only to excite the non-developers/journalists watching the keynote.

The lawsuit extended on appeal into roughly the time of Windows 95, IIRC. They didn't initiate a suite regarding Windows 95 specifically, but the point here is that they had no response, OS-wise, to Windows 95 when it came out and it killed them. Well, nearly killed them.

Expose is a great future and it was one of my favorite Panther features, but it wasn't the feature that led off Jobs' WWDC Panther presentation. Apple usually reserves the first slot for the single feature it believes will have the greatest overall impact on users, and in the case of Panther that was the new "redesigned" Finder. It may well be that some users consider expose to be the top Panther feature, and it certainly was visually impressive at the time, but I'm referring to the Panther WWDC keynote itself, not after-the-fact opinions. Whether it should have been or not, expose simply wasn't Apple's choice for the lead feature in the Panther keynote.

And it could be that all of this "top secret" stuff is just marketing bull, but if it is, it's completely uncharacteristic of Apple, which will hype (some say over-hype) it's products in grand fashion when they are officially announced to the public. It's certainly never happened in a high-brow keynote before, and if it was intended to create a tidal wave of public opinions and curiosity about what those top secret features might be, it's having a somewhat predictable opposite effect. Most everything I read and listened to about the WWDC squared exclusively on features that were shown and the "top secret" message of the keynote was almost universally ignored. And I'm not referring to wankering message board posts about this, I'm referring to notable, high exposure Mac superstar journalists like Breen and Pouge. That's not a lot of bang for the buck if "marketing" was really the chief goal of "top secret."

sigamy
Aug 24, 2006, 08:11 AM
Nice Summary, VanNess. I agree with you, and I'm hoping that Apple has something revolutionary up its sleeve for us. My problem is, I'm having a hard time thinking what that killer feature could be...

Spotlight has revolutionized the way I use my computer. To a lesser degree so has Expose. Time Machine will also, but again in a different way.

My Mac works well. I can find my files, applications do what they are designed to do. Our digital lives are pretty much in order with iLife and web-based sharing via .mac, flikr, youtube, etc.

What's left to tackle?

I've posted this many times before but I'm hoping that Xgrid is included throughout the OS and in all apps. Apple should take this technology that has been just for scientists/professionals/nerds and bring it "to the rest of us". I'd love to see Xgrid for iLife, where my iDVD encoding can share all the CPU power in my house, not just on my Mac. Bonjour/Rendezvous did this for sharing printers and file servers quickly and easily. Now it's time to do it across all the CPUs we have in our homes.

Bern
Aug 24, 2006, 08:25 AM
Wow such a long and yet somehow well thought out post :confused:

Basically we have already surmised what you say when Steve indicated that he wouldn't be sharing some of the new features of Leopard. Of course there will be something revolutionary with OS X.5 and that's why Apple want to keep prying eyes away from it.

jhu
Aug 24, 2006, 08:40 AM
Wow such a long and yet somehow well thought out post :confused:

Basically we have already surmised what you say when Steve indicated that he wouldn't be sharing some of the new features of Leopard. Of course there will be something revolutionary with OS X.5 and that's why Apple want to keep prying eyes away from it.

evolutionary, most likely, but definitely not revolutionary as that would imply a gigantic leap over what computing has in store now.

here's what i 'd consider "revolutionary":
1) program an artificial intelligence that will anticipate what you want to do based on what you've done before. that would be revolutionary (and annoying).

2) be able to hook up several computers together to form a cluster as easily as plugging in an ethernet cable.

NATO
Aug 24, 2006, 09:05 AM
Very well written post VanNess, I agree with a lot of what you say.

I think the reason Apple is holding off on exposing the key features of Leopard could be down to one or both of these reasons:

1. They're not ready yet, and the 'Top Secret' stuff is marketing spin.
2. The fact Apple has some knock-out features planned, but doesn't want to play the trump card until Vista is released.

I believe the first reason is a possibility, but I believe the main reason is the second, simply because both operating systems are due for release around the same time. With Tiger, Windows XP had been out for years and there was no sign of Vista for a long time - Things were stagnant on the PC front. This meant Apple didn't need to be particularly secretive because Microsoft had nothing better to compare it to. However, with Vista due for release, maybe Apple wants to wait until the initial 'oooh, aaah, pretty Aero Interface' stuff has died down before unleashing the coolest new features of Tiger. At the end of the day, if Apple tells us now, by the time Leopard is released, no-one (apart from the Mac community obviously) will be listening because the mainstream computing audience will still be dribbling over Vista's Aero.

I think Apple just wants to time things right so that Leopard has the maximum impact on the competition.

Shadow
Aug 24, 2006, 09:28 AM
I agree 100%. Expose was the feature that sold me a Mac, without it I wouldnt have considered getting one. Spotlight is nice, but I just don't use it as often (I remember where my files are) as Expose. The finder is alright, it does what I want it to do, nothing more, nothing less. I don't understand why its so bad. I'm sure Apple will comeout with some amazing new feature in Leopard which we will all use and wonder how we ever did without.

To me, Vista has nothing that couldnt be done in XP with a simple OS "upgrade"-rather like OS X 10 to OS X 10.1. For me, Vista has no amazing new feature which would make me go out and buy it-unlike OS X. Microsoft has done a very poor job of persuading me to upgrade my PC to Vista-I've used the beta and it is very slugish, and slow. Just glancing down the "features" list on the Vista website looks to me very much like the OS X feature list.

sonictruth
Aug 24, 2006, 10:17 AM
I believe that the keynote focused on the elements of Leopard that will most impact developers. You know, WWDC-specific stuff. WWDC presents information that developers need to know 6 months in advance of release so that their work will be compatible with the future OS and can take advantage of the new OS features.

I am hoping that the top secret features are not necessarily specific features (like expose or spaces or time machine), but are overall OS themes - like how windows are constructed and viewed - some grand reinvention of the visual aspects of the OS. And pretty clearly, they're just not done tweaking it yet - the protection from Microsoft copying ploy is kind of shameful garbage really. Almost anyone who actually watches the keynote is sophisticated enough to know that MS doesn't have time to copy before their release.

I know I haven't added much that hasn't been said here or in other threads, but in the end, I don't think the top secret elements will change much of how developers interact with and design for the OS. That would be stupid.

jholzner
Aug 24, 2006, 10:56 AM
I agree 100%. Expose was the feature that sold me a Mac, without it I wouldnt have considered getting one. Spotlight is nice, but I just don't use it as often (I remember where my files are) as Expose.

I remember where my files are too. They are all very organized but I find it easier to do a search in spotlight than to go digging through folders. Just my opinion of course.

In response to the post, I agree and I can't wait until we see what they are. But, they better be pretty freakin' good for the hype they've created.

ReanimationLP
Aug 24, 2006, 08:24 PM
I hope they fix Dashboard before Leopards released.

It crashes. Constantly. T_T

MisterMe
Aug 24, 2006, 10:24 PM
You have a problem that you need to fix. This is certainly not normal.

After G
Aug 24, 2006, 10:57 PM
here's what i 'd consider "revolutionary":
1) program an artificial intelligence that will anticipate what you want to do based on what you've done before. that would be revolutionary (and annoying).

2) be able to hook up several computers together to form a cluster as easily as plugging in an ethernet cable.
1) Too expensive for a desktop today.
2) Xgrid (almost) :D

You still have to set it up though with some commands, not plug and play. But it could be made that way with a short Applescript or something, maybe.

Bobdude161
Aug 24, 2006, 11:40 PM
Nice post VanNess. Don't pay attn to the ppl who are booing you off the stage because you've "repeated what others have said". You did a great summary.

I think if it's not like Apple to do this, it's a good thing. Apple just can't keep acting the same way it has from the beggining: stuck up and not care about the competition. They need to think differently (tee-em) on their marketing and mix things up a bit. Let Windows do the thinking themselves (right...) when it comes to building a "new" OS. This strategy will hopefully help win over alot more Windows users in the end.

sunfast
Aug 25, 2006, 01:01 AM
Great post, VanNess. You make some interesting points and, whilst it's easy to be sceptical about Apple's behaviour, I certainly hope there is a must have feature on the way.

JFreak
Aug 25, 2006, 01:20 AM
Marketing.

Of course Steve wants to save something to show later on when Vista gets media coverage. He just throws it at their face and steals media attention towards Apple. He's a super-wise marketing genius and has guts to not introduce all features in the keynote.