From Leper to Leopard: Why 2008 will be the biggest year for Apple since 1981.

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by katanna, Jun 9, 2008.

  1. katanna macrumors 6502

    katanna

    Joined:
    May 6, 2004
    #1
    (I just posted my blog post about Microsoft and Apple, so I thought I would also add my older blog post about how Leopard is going to change the computing experience as we know it. This post was posted last October, days after Leopard was released, and a few days before I bought it. I think it is still fun to look back and see what I thought a small seven months ago... and how it compares to what I think today. Anywho, enjoy!)

    (This article was written entirely by me; special thanks to Leo Laporte and the rest of the TWIT gang for your ideas and motivation)

    Most family and friends of mine would call me an Apple Fanboy, but I insist that I am only an Apple Fan. There is a distinct difference between a fanboy and a fan; a fanboy will praise the item no matter what the entity does, a fan can be critical of the entity when it is wrong. For example, I am a Dallas Cowboys Fanboy; no matter how much they suck, I will root for them in every game (OK, this year they are half decent, but in years past, I cheered for them even at their worst).

    I consider myself an Apple Fan because I am able to be critical of Apple. I don't like that they have kept the iPhone closed (they will fix this next year) and how expensive their products are (they have a 33% profit rate, a number that makes most technology companies jealous). However, I am a huge fan because I think that they are the most forward thinking technology company (more on this later).

    Now, on a slightly related topic, I do not consider myself a Windows Hater. I simply hate Windows. I don't consider myself a Windows Hater because I empathize with Microsoft: they have a huge problem to overcome! The problem is "legacy," which means that with nearly a <i>billion</i> computers in the world running Windows, Microsoft can't just come out with a fully new version (like Apple or Palm can). Because of this, they have not created a "new" Windows in the last 15 years; they have simply updated their old version. For example, there are still snippets of code in Vista that were written for Windows 95! This means that there is code running on most machines that is over 15 years old! This is absurd! Would you buy a new TV with technology from 15 years ago, or a 15 year old printer? Would you listen to music on a tape, or use Super-8 to film your home movies?

    Like I said, I do empathize with Microsoft. There is no easy solution for this. Because of this legacy problem, I consider Microsoft a "backward thinking" company. Their legacy problems force them to cater to people running old software, old computers, and computers that they can't control. They are spending more time fixing problems then looking forward at new features. This is why the OS has not changed in 15 years. Windows 95 and Windows Vista are, deep down, the same product. Sure, they look different, they have a few new features (search, backup). But your use of the OS as a user is the exact same. You install programs the same, you open files the same, the desktop has not changed.

    Now, this post is not here to bash Windows, but this point is important. See, I find that people are tired of using the same OS, looking at the same thing, doing things the same way, and having an operating system that reminds them of 1995.

    OK, enough about Microsoft, lets drive 850 miles north to Apple. Apple, is by definition, a "forward thinking" company. They have a small market share, so they are forced to revolutionize to draw more customers (look at the iPod... these days, we take the iPod for granted, but when it came out, it blew all of the competition out of the water by being innovative and customer-centered). They are forced to make things better so that more people are interested in their product. If Apple had not changed their OS in 15 years (they did in 2001 with OS X), than they would be out of business right now.

    And Leopard, Apple's latest operating system (released last week) is the perfect example of this. Most reviews of Leopard are downplaying the importance of Leopard. But they are wrong, because Leopard will be the spring board to bring new customers to OS X.

    A specific example between the backward thinking of Vista and the forward thinking of Leopard:

    How do you view files in Windows?

    [​IMG]

    Not too bad. You can see what type of file it is (Word file, PowerPoint file, Audio File), and for the pictures, it gives you a thumbnail of the photo, so you can see what it is. But lets say you are looking for a specific file, how would you find it? The same way as you did in Windows 95: by name.

    Now, here are the same files using OS 10.4 (the now "old" Apple OS):

    [​IMG]

    Pretty much the same thing: the icons for the files are a simple generic icon (even the photos, which aren't saved with a thumbnail).

    Here are the same files in Leopard:

    [​IMG]

    It looks the same, but if you look close, the thumbnails of all of the files are actually previews of the files. It doesn't matter if the file is a Word Document, a PowerPoint document, a photo, a PDF... (almost) anything your computer can read, it will show you an actual preview of the file (including album art for the music). Apple has created a new technology called "Quick Look" that shows live previews of all files. No more looking at the name of a file to see what to open, you now can SEE inside of every file.

    But it doesn't stop there. For those that use iTunes, you may have been using Cover Flow, which was released a few versions ago. In this view, you can see the album art of your songs, and the art flips by as you scan your music:

    [​IMG]

    When I first saw it, it was one of those "oh, OK, whatever" reactions. But now I have it in all of my play lists. Not that it adds a whole lot of functionality, but it is cool to watch and play with it.

    With Leopard, Apple has introduced Cover Flow into the finder. Mixed with Quick Look, it makes it amazingly fast to find your documents. Here are the same files as above in Cover Flow:

    [​IMG]

    Lets say you are looking for a project in a folder. Now, instead of looking for the file name, you look for the content of the file! And this isn't just photos; it will show you previews of movies, text documents, presentations, spread sheets. If your computer can open it, it will show you a preview of it. And not only does it show you a preview of, for example, the first page of a presentation, but you can scroll through the pages right there IN THE FINDER! Play movies, scroll PDFs, etc.

    But it STILL doesn't stop there.

    The preview in Cover Flow not big enough? Hit the space bar, and said file fills the entire screen in a preview. Again, scroll through presentations, see all of the pages in a spread sheet, watch movies, all in full screen, all in real time, all without opening a single program!

    [​IMG]
    (note that when checking music, it uses the album art, and you can hear the music playing)

    This will change the way that you browse files, and you won't be able to go back! (for a live preview of this example, I reccomend that you watch the Guided Tour on Apple's website, Cover Flow starts at 3 minutes and 50 seconds)

    Another in depth example. Leopard has an automated backup that will backup (by default every hour) onto an external hard drive. No fuss, no worries, no set-up, it just happens. Vista also has this feature (in fact, some say that Apple stole the idea from Microsoft as this was an announced feature of Vista long before Apple implemented it). So the two are the same, right? Wrong.

    While the backup mechanism that runs in the background operates the same, Apple has taken it one step further. In Vista, it simply backs up your information. Puts it into folders, so that if you loose your data, you have to go search in nested folders for what you lost. In Leopard, you open a "program" (a subset of the OS) called "Time Machine." What happens is hard to describe. Lets say that you had some files in a folder, but the files are now gone. With the folder open, select Time Machine, and you get this:

    [​IMG]

    The window that you are in is now stretching "back into time." Each window behind the current window represents a backup of that window. To find your missing files, you simply scroll back in time until your files appear. Or, you can click the arrow in the lower right to jump back to the last time the folder was changed. Select the missing document(s) and hit "restore." The files are now back where they should be.

    So, lets compare restoring files in the two Operating Systems:
    Vista: open your external HD, open a few sub-folders, looking for the file in whatever convoluted manor Microsoft decided to use. Get frustrated and decide to do a search. Finally find the file; drag over to the other folder and hope it was the right version.
    Leopard: with the folder open, activate Time Machine, press back arrow, select files, press Restore. Four clicks, no searching, no worry, no time wasted.

    Which would you choose? (again, for a live preview of this example, I reccomend that you watch the Guided Tour, Time Machine starts at 9 minutes 35 seconds)

    I have only mentioned two out of the many many many updates in Leopard (they claim 300 updates over the last OS, watch the rest of the Guided Tour for more of the improvements). The above examples prove my point: people are tired of the same old OS, and want something new, refreshing, and different. They are tired of using the same old OS, they crave a new way of browsing and opening files. Couple that with the ease of use of the rest of the OS, and it is a home run! I see Windows users wasting no time in migrating to Leopard. In the last quarter (summer 2007), Apple announced that half of the customers that bought Macs via Apple Stores were new to Macs. I think that that number will rise.

    Five and a half years ago I purchased my first Mac. When I told people that I had a Mac, they looked at me like I was a leper. Now, with so many switchers, and attitudes towards Apple different, I am proud to be a Leopard.

    Matthew
     
  2. katanna thread starter macrumors 6502

    katanna

    Joined:
    May 6, 2004
    #2
  3. Anuba macrumors 68040

    Anuba

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2005
    #3
    I use both platforms, I "hate" neither, both have their pros and cons and I use whichever best suits the purpose at hand.

    I want to address some of the points that you made.

    With regards to backup, you're missing two important aspects here. First, System Restore. Windows has this built in since Windows 2K, released 9 years ago. If you somehow screw up the system by installing something, you can revert to any restore point (ideally the one created automatically before you screwed up the system). I believe Time Machine takes care of this now on OS X, but Mac users had to do without this for a very long time and they had to resort to the rather Neanderthal-esque method of "archive/reinstall" when something messed up the system.

    Second, the premium versions of Vista (Ultimate, Business and possibly Home Premium) have something called Previous Versions. When you make changes to files and folders, a hidden backup is created and in case you accidentally delete or save over something you can bring back a file or an entire folder to a previous state. This will certainly not help you in the event of a hard drive failure (you have Backup for that), but on the other hand it's right there on your primary hard disk, so you don't have to drag around some external drive like you do with Time Machine.

    So while Time Machine is great, albeit unnecessarily flashy, don't forget that Mac users had to wait aeons for funcionality that's been in Windows for many years. And Vista has three goof-up reversal technologies, not one.

    Now for some other Windows stuff I really miss on the Mac:

    - Software updates are often downloaded and installed silently in Vista, with the exception of those requiring a reboot. You see the Windows Update icon pop up in the system tray and then it disappears. Software update on Mac on the other hand feels very outdated, rudimentary and unsmooth. Not only does it interrupt you by throwing a big window in your face whenever it finds a new update, but more often than not it also requires you to sign a license agreement even though it's just some minor maintenance patch, which I find rather odd. I mean, if the iTunes 7.6.1 (or whatever) license agreement was OK with me, why in the world would I suddenly stop agreeing when it's time for 7.6.2? This isn't so much "think different" as it is "think cumbersome and old".

    - I really appreciate the fact that any file window, even load and save dialogs, is a true Explorer window where I can manipulate files and folders. For example, let's say I'm a bit unmethodical when I start on a new project so I jump straight into Photoshop and start working on some image, and then when I want to save it I go "right... I should have created a folder structure for the project first". No prob, right there in the save dialog I can create a folder structure, clean up a little and move files around or delete them. On Mac OS X, a save dialog isn't a full blown Finder window, it's locked down and all I can do is save or create a new folder. If I accidentally create a new folder or give it the wrong name, I have to go into Finder and fix this later.

    - In Windows you can mount servers and network drives as permanent, logical drives. In OS X you have to re-mount them every time you reboot. Sure, you can place these network shares under "Login items", but then it will throw a pile of Finder windows in your face after you log in.

    - Vista has a lot of error and crash handling and help stuff built in, for example the "Problem reports and solutions" panel. There you can see a log of crashes and other issues, it determines what caused the crash and it will notify you if a solution is found. For example, if the Flash plugin has crashed Internet Explorer a few times, Vista will eventually tell you, hey look! Adobe has released a new Flash player that will fix the issues you were having. What does OS X have? At best, it lets you send the crash log to Apple, but often it will just throw you some cryptic error message like "Error code -23". It keeps no log of previous crashes, nor does it help you with solutions. A Mac fanboy may argue that "Macs never crash so that stuff would be redundant", but we all know that's far from the truth.

    - When you copy or move a large number of files on Vista and there's a problem halfway through the process (e.g. one of the files is open, or write protected etc), Vista will pause and tell you, look, there's a problem with file so-and-so. Do you want to skip this file and continue the process or do you want to try again? So you locate the file and fix the issue, then try again, and the process continues. If the same thing happens in OS X Finder, it just goes "oops" and plain quits trying, so you're left with a big mess, especially if you tried to move rather than copy because then OS X won't remove any of the files from the source location until ALL of them have been copied to the target location.

    - For the love of god can you please just let us resize windows by grabbing any edge or corner? I know Apple likes to make an effort to not be like Windows, but in this case they're just gonna have to swallow the pride and get with the program. This is an utterly basic usability thing.

    Just a few examples off the top of my head.

    I like to think of Windows as a normal person and OS X as "bubble boy". What I mean by that is, the bubble boy is sealed in a controlled, cozy, sterile environment where he can live without an immune system because the bubble does it for him. Apple makes the hardware (=controlled environment), the OS and most of the software (=thus keeping the environment sterile) and are thus able to dodge pesky legacy issues, third party hardware etc.

    A normal person on the other hand is out in the tough real world where others sneeze and cough on him, and he'll have to put up with the occasional cold, itch, chicken pox or diarrhea attack. But because his system has been challenged by this incessant onslaught of crap over the years, he has built up a reasonable level of resilience and immunity. While he still can't beat cancer or AIDS (=nasty trojan or other highly potent malware), his system can take a whole lot of abuse before it goes down. And Windows is like that. You can torture it with ancient software or quirky and old third party hardware, and it may groan but it puts up with it. And when it doesn't, you can fall back on System Restore, various compatibility modes and other lifelines.

    The Mac on the other hand will fall very ill if something foreign gets into the bubble. Remember the perpetual blue screen issue that hit a lot of Leopard upgraders a few months back? All it took was some puny little third party application enhancer left over from Tiger, and the system would hang. This is typical of OS X updates of late; every time it's the same ceremony, with the posting of lists of third party applications and hardware drivers broken by 10.X.X, application enhancers that break 10.X.X, and what not.

    Which system is more stable? OS X for sure. But if you were to ask which system is tougher and more rugged, that award goes to Windows for sure. It has a plan B, a plan C and a plan D. OS X is a little sissy boy in this regard, if plan A fails he runs home to mommy and cries. It wouldn't last two seconds in the brutal world that Windows has to face. But that's fine, because 95% of the time Apple makes sure that plan A is all you need and they don't appear to be planning on subjecting OS X to life outside the bubble anytime soon.
     
  4. MarcBook macrumors 6502a

    MarcBook

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Location:
    Jersey, Channel Islands
    #4
    Nice post, but you can turn on item previews in Tiger, I believe. You do it in 'Show View Options', if I remember rightly. I think they're just on by default in Leopard. :)

    The one thing that I miss hugely (from Tiger) is Shapeshifter (and Application Enhancer). It was nice having complete customisation capabilities in Mac OS. If they had more interface options in Leopard it would be great.
     
  5. ravenousllama macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2008
    Location:
    Chicago
    #5
    erm, i hate to be that guy, but apple is 850 miles south of microsoft, not north.

    i also agree with anuba's points about features that windows has that i miss dearly in mac osx. like being able to resize windows from more than just the lower right corner. that took a while to get used to.

    and in terms of the "windows vista is like windows 95," mac os isn't much different. finder hasn't undergone a major overhaul in os x other than minor stylistic changes, much like explorer in windows, and even pre-osx finder had a similar layout and structure.

    sometimes familiarity and concepts that have been established to work are more important. as they say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, and i think windows hit it right the first time. finder too. they're both relatively simple and efficient, save a few small annoying bugs, and they work.
     

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