In Depth Mac OS X Leopard Review

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Apr 12, 2001
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ArsTechinca's John Siracusa posts an in depth review of Leopard, which refreshingly goes beyond the typical superficial glance at features. In fact, portions of the review may be too technical for the many readers, but does point out several under-the-hood improvements in Mac OS X 10.5 that may not be immediately obvious. Indeed, Siracusa summarizes the 17 page review:
As I've learned more about Leopard, it's become increasingly clear where, exactly, those two-and-a-half years of development time went. Leopard is absolutely packed with improvements. It seems that not a corner of the OS has gone untouched.

Perhaps that's not as clear to the casual user who just sees the surface changes and the major new features in Leopard. But even in that case, there's more than enough to recommend it. if you're wondering whether you should upgrade to Leopard, the answer, as it's been for every major revision of Mac OS X, is yes.
That being said, the review does touch on some aspects of Leopard's superficial changes, including the new standardized look of windows, changes in Finder behavior and the impracticality of Apple's current Stacks implementation:
There's just not enough room in a single Dock tile for a stack of icons to convey any meaningful information. Only the top one, two, maybe three items have any visual impact. And those few items may be misleading (e.g., the home folder appearing to be the Desktop folder) or completely generic (e.g., the Pictures and Movies folders showing up as plain folder icons.) Seriously, Apple, this is a bad idea.
Siracusa is, however, enthusiastic about Time Machine ("people will actually use") and describes steady and significant improvements in Mac OS X's performance and responsiveness. Leopard's kernel is also said to be better about scheduling processes, allowing you to make better use of multi-core CPUs.

Of technical interest, the article explores Leopard's implementation of DTrace to assist in debugging, the full transition to 64-bit, and the full adoption of Cocoa:
The last vestiges of the original Macintosh API are finally being put to rest. They've done their job and are being given a decent burial, I think. A slow, almost natural transition. Bugs will be fixed in the 32-bit Carbon APIs, of course, but no new features will be added. All new GUI APIs in Leopard and future Mac OS X releases will be added as Cocoa-only APIs.
This transition, of course, affects some of Apple's biggest developers (such as Microsoft and Adobe) who have a large library of Carbon code for their applications.

A lot of groundwork has also been laid towards implementing resolution independence, though even Apple's implementation across their own applications is thus far inconsistent. Full Resolution Independence support as a user-accessible feature is not expected until 2008. But this should allow Apple to introduce super-high-resolution displays and provide a consistent user experience.

The full review is worth reading if you have an interest in Mac OS X Leopard.

Article Link
 

Eidorian

macrumors Penryn
Mar 23, 2005
29,085
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Indianapolis
I read this when it was on digg. I didn't expect it to show up here.

I really enjoyed the explanation of 32/64-bit and PowerPC/Intel.
 

corywoolf

macrumors 65816
Jun 28, 2004
1,352
3
I'll be waiting until Adobe updates CS3. After Effects is just too important. It's almost as if Apple likes to play games with Adobe or maybe Adobe is just really slow. :rolleyes:
 

Doctor Q

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Sep 19, 2002
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It's nice to know that Leopard already has groundwork for future O.S. evolution. I wonder how far along the developers are on the next Mac OS X version.
 
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stp2112

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Leopard Feedback

I read all the reviews so far and I have to say that none of them really hit the point that Leopard is a substantial performance increase on my G4 Powerbook. The graphics are better, the response time of all applications is increased, and the new features in Mail and TCP/IP as well as the finder and most applications are vastly improved. There were bugs in Tiger that always plagued me (none so serious that I would ever consider switching, mind you) that are simply gone in 10.5 and to me it is a VERY much appreciated and worth the wait. Most of the complaints I have read about so far are just people whining because it doesnt do everything exactly as they they think it should, lol.
 

Vanilla

macrumors 6502a
Mar 19, 2002
589
0
Atlanta, GA
I read all the reviews so far and I have to say that none of them really hit the point that Leopard is a substantial performance increase on my G4 Powerbook. The graphics are better, the response time of all applications is increased, and the new features in Mail and TCP/IP as well as the finder and most applications are vastly improved. There were bugs in Tiger that always plagued me (none so serious that I would ever consider switching, mind you) that are simply gone in 10.5 and to me it is a VERY much appreciated and worth the wait. Most of the complaints I have read about so far are just people whining because it doesnt do everything exactly as they they think it should, lol.
Just wanted to second your comment. My old Powerbook G4 1.67ghz has received a second lease of life via Leopard that was totally unexpected. I'm really impressed.
Vanilla
 

bcortens

macrumors member
Aug 16, 2007
58
27
Ontario Canada
Most of the complaints I have read about so far are just people whining because it doesnt do everything exactly as they they think it should, lol.
Stacks are USELESS! the ability to dock a folder and have it act as a pop-up menu in which you could navigate to subfolders was so useful, I was rarely using the finder to get to files, now I have to because stacks can't do the menu option, sure they look cool and are all nice and spring loaded (which would have been nice to add to the menu version) but a choice would have been nice!
Just add that as a further option, menu view or something.
I'm unhappy because they took a perfectly fine feature, a useful one and reduced it to these graphically cool but totally useless stacks!
 

samh004

macrumors 68020
Mar 1, 2004
2,211
87
Australia
Hopefully this review will help quiet those calling Leopard a service pack, or 10.4.11.
I do think that's something that this review has done. Where Apple may not have had enough time to perfect some aspects of the interface, or include special effects in iChat and Photo Booth, they have laid the groundwork for these things to be improved upon and be used by anyone.

There's so many changes that no one will ever see, but run all the time, and that's why you should be upgrading, and being glad you've upgraded, as it's a good improvement, and there will be many more things to come thanks to what has been done.

I sort of expect the first and/or second incremental updates to fix the issues and polish it off (on top, as much of what's below is working well already). Perhaps some new effects for iChat etc will come too... as that seems to be what everyone notices as wrong with the OS... not what's right with the OS.
 

koobcamuk

macrumors 68040
Oct 23, 2006
3,189
9
Well, I have to say that 10.5 is in the very early days (obviously). I think a lot of new users are forgetting that it's better to upgrade once some people have worked through the kinks - or embrace kinks and be part of the upgrade experience.

Of note; I am looking forward to see what changes occur on the display front. I bought an ACD in August and love it. I don't think unless the design is better (hard to do) or the price is right (unlikely) that I would give up this display. It looks amazing and my MacBook lives with it just fine. Just fine? I mean amazingly.
 

pjarvi

macrumors 65816
Jan 11, 2006
1,287
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Round Lake, IL
Completely disagree with his rant about the menu bar and the dock, I love the translucency and prefer "blue orbs" over black triangles. Those 2 items are what defines Leopard.
 

dogtanian

macrumors 6502
Jun 26, 2007
379
0
Bournemouth, UK
Completely disagree with his rant about the menu bar and the dock, I love the translucency and prefer "blue orbs" over black triangles. Those 2 items are what defines Leopard.
Err I'm not sure I'd agree with that. There is a page with 300 new features and blue orbs and translucent menu bar aint the defining factors :D
 

breal8406

macrumors newbie
Oct 27, 2006
29
0
Atherton,CA/Minneapolis,MN
The one thing that caught me with Leopard is it doesn't feel like a new OS to me. I guess I felt with past major point releases that it was a slight step backwards in stability. I'm not getting that vibe this time.

Once you get past the upgrade headaches that come with every new system...I don't know about you but Leopard is running like a dream for me. The ground work is obvious in the feel of the system. At least for me anyways.

It still baffle's me. Apple has like an 18,000 head count......Microsoft has a 70,000 head count or something and Microsoft just can't get anything right right out of the box. It's one of the mysteries of life I guess I'm never going to understand.
 

erockerboy

macrumors member
Jul 25, 2002
92
0
SEA, WA, US
Man, that Ars Technica article was a workout. Informative though :D

It is kind of a bummer about some of the "backwards progress" in the UI... seems like it would be so simple for Apple to just give us the option on things like menubar transparency, "classic" docked folders instead of Stacks, etc.
 

valiar

macrumors regular
Mar 14, 2006
222
0
Washington, DC
Man, that Ars Technica article was a workout. Informative though :D

It is kind of a bummer about some of the "backwards progress" in the UI... seems like it would be so simple for Apple to just give us the option on things like menubar transparency, "classic" docked folders instead of Stacks, etc.
Exactly.
3D Dock does not look as bad to me as it does to the review author, but he is spot on about the Stack icons!

Applications folder, if dragged to the Dock, looks like a slightly distorted Address Book application. There is no way to asign a permanent, easily identifiable icon to that folder/stack! Another example described in the review (disk image file/downloads folder) is even more staggering.

Apple needs to fix stacks/folders... Submit your bug reports!

Here:
http://www.apple.com/feedback/macosx.html
 

offwidafairies

macrumors 6502a
Jun 5, 2007
582
0
Melbourne, Australia
This review is a big read, but worth it!
He really hammers the bad points of the GUI. And even though I am yet to ue Leopard, from all the photos I've seen on the internet I have always thought the 3D dock and translucent menu bar was stupid. Now I can see how frustrating the folder icons will be. I like to find things quickly and easily.
Looking fwd to trying it out for real myself in the next few days :)
I hope the performance boost is as great as everything I have read thus far. However, I'm miffed that ProTools apparently does not work :(
 

pk1

macrumors newbie
Oct 29, 2007
2
0
Misleading quotation

That being said, the review does touch on some aspects of Leopard's superficial changes, including the new standardized look of windows, changes in Finder behavior and the impracticality of Apple's current Stacks implementation:

here's just not enough room in a single Dock tile for a stack of icons to convey any meaningful information. Only the top one, two, maybe three items have any visual impact. And those few items may be misleading (e.g., the home folder appearing to be the Desktop folder) or completely generic (e.g., the Pictures and Movies folders showing up as plain folder icons.) Seriously, Apple, this is a bad idea.
It seems that the authors of this MacRumors post made an error by quoting the aforementioned text passage from Ars's Leopard review as regarding to stacks, while it is talking about how folder icons in the dock appear as a stacked list of the including items in that folder.

Macrumors lets us know about an in-depth review of Leopard like this one, yet they quote it in a wrong way, misleading their readers that only the top items of a stack are visible. Be more careful the next time, people!
 

SPUY767

macrumors 68020
Jun 22, 2003
2,025
112
GA
I never found all that much to overtly loathe in Leopard. I will say that I wish there was a way to set the dock to function like the Tiger dock. I LOVED right clicking a folder on the dock to reveal all its contents, the look doesn't bother me, but the loss of the aforementioned functionality makes me want to cry.

Time machine in particular rocks for me because my basic backup task only occurred once a week and involved a script which basically created disk images of my hard disks on a large external drive.
 

mndeaves

macrumors newbie
Oct 29, 2007
2
0
Agree About Stacks

Hi there, I've read MacRumors and it's forums for as long as I can remember now but never posted. After using Leopard my only gripe is with stacks and it's made me sign up here and give feedback to Apple.

As a software engineer I found it invaluable to be able to drill down through my home, work and applications folder. Stacks are basically the contextual menu made one level deep and to show less icons.

Now I think about it I would prefer stacks to be used on the desktop only (yes, go back to piles, but call them something else), so you could have a few piles of documents on the desktop that expanded out into a grid when you dragged another item over them. If they did that and and worked as spring loaded folders, I would probably dance around our office for a week.

Also, my dad a long time mac user, has lost the plot with stacks. I've had a few phone calls with 'where's my home folder gone? What is this icon? Hang on, what’s the point in having my home folder in the dock anymore - I can only open one folder!' Again, his only gripe.

As for my 78 year old grandmother (we call her iNan), who has owned a mac mini for a year now... well, she's using Tiger and dock folders, and i don't think will be going to leopard. I'll show it to her and see what she says.

Wow, my first post and a massive horsing. Sorry guys!
 

b00le

macrumors newbie
Oct 29, 2007
2
0
Ooof! Don't they have any sub-editors at Ars? The technical depth of this review is not as challenging as the author's exhausting prolixity. Perhaps, like Pascal, he lacked the time to make it shorter...
 

motulist

macrumors 601
Dec 2, 2003
4,080
346
It's now becoming an accepted fact that, although Stacks add a nice feature for some users, for many other users it's a HUGE downgrade in functionality of a feature that many people rely on.

Apple has made mistakes before, heard the outcry of its users, and responded with a remedy that pleased. So everyone who wants nested dock folder lists back, keep sending Apple feedback about it, and keep up the chorus about the situation in web forums. Apple pays attention if enough people clamor for change.

p.s. Other than the stacks debacle, Leopard looks like an awesome upgrade.
 
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