Paul Thurrot's Review of Leopard

Discussion in 'macOS' started by weaverra, Oct 27, 2007.

  1. weaverra macrumors 6502

    Sep 27, 2006

    My comments are in bold italics

    Apple Mac OS X 10.5 'Leopard' Review

    While the Apple hype machine and its fanatical followers would have you believe that Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" is a major upgrade to the company's venerable operating system, nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, Leopard is yet another evolutionary upgrade in a long line of evolutionary OS X upgrades, all of which date back to the original OS X release in 2001. But let me get one huge misunderstanding out of the way immediately: That's not a dig at Leopard at all. Indeed, if anything, Apple is in an enviable position: OS X is so solid, so secure, and so functionally excellent that it must be getting difficult figuring out how to massage another $129 out even the most ardent fans. Folks, Leopard is good stuff. But then that's been true of Mac OS X for quite a while now.

    Still, I'm amused that simply stating such an obvious fact is enough to send the crazies rushing out of the wood pile in such predictable fashion. Come on, kids. Don't make it so easy. See the compliment for what it is: As is the case with Windows these days, it's getting hard for Apple to top the last release. Microsoft discovered this with Windows Vista (see my review), as XP simply shows no sign of going away any time soon, despite the many benefits of its newer and more capable sibling. Likewise, Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" (see my review) is still a viable and capable system that should provide a solid computing foundation for Mac users for years to come. If it ain't broke, it's hard to fix.

    Indeed, the parallels between Vista and Leopard are hard to ignore, and not just because Jobs and Company have spent the past several years being more fixated on Vista than perhaps even I've been. Both Leopard and Vista were horribly late, -(ummmmm 4 months vs. 5 years)- Vista even more so than Leopard. (But then Apple CEO Steve Jobs did once proclaim that Leopard would ship before Vista, so Leopard is plenty late as well.) And because both of these releases are late, the previous versions, Tiger and XP, respectively, have been on the market longer than their own predecessors and have matured nicely in the interim.

    That said, there is one real difference between Vista and Leopard. Unlike Leopard, Windows Vista has been rearchitected from the ground up into a componentized new OS that is both more secure -(yet to be determined. You might could make this claim 4 to 5 years from now.)- and more easily malleable at a low level than were previous Windows versions. Of course, Microsoft abused this functionality and its user base by bifurcating the Vista product line into far too many versions, and packing the best features into the most expensive ones. Meanwhile, Leopard is an incremental, evolutionary update over the previous release with no major architectural changes, which makes me wonder why Apple is even charging for it: In the Windows world, such releases are called service packs.-(This ain't Windows)- Put more kindly, while the changes Microsoft made under the hood in Vista added a level of sophistication to the OS that was previously lacking, this kind of change was unnecessary in Mac OS X.

    With that clearing of the air out of the way, let's take a look at Apple's latest operating system version. Windows users might be surprised to discover that Leopard is a solid, even excellent alternative to Windows Vista, while Apple fanatics will blissfully skip over any accolades I may have to offer and focus instead on the pedantic meanings of terms like evolutionary and minor. They'll quibble that I'm not getting it because Leopard is the basis for future iPhone releases or whatever, or because I just need to wait and see what developers will do in the future with the unbelievable underlying new technologies in this release. (That the same argument was made with Tiger and never materialized into anything exciting or interesting is, of course, lost on these people.) They'll point to some feature that I don't mention in the review as "proof" that I just don't understand what it is that makes Leopard special.

    I'll never please those people, so I'm not going to even try. Here's what I'm concerned with: How does Leopard compare, today, out of the box, with both its predecessor and with Windows Vista? Is it enough to make Vista users switch to the Dark Side? You know, I don't believe so, but I'll get to that in a bit. First, let's examine what's really going on with this release.

    Major new features
    Apple advertises that Leopard includes over 300 new features, but even a casual examination of the new feature list reveals that the vast majority of those "features" are hardly anything to write home about.-(It comprises and brings together the whole operating system hence SYSTEM)- For example, the DVD player application has been updated for this release, and one might charitably describe that as a "new feature," in the sense that any improvement is, at least pedantically, new. But Apple doesn't break things down that way. No, the updated DVD player in Leopard is responsible for fully 10 of the operating system's new features. Among these "new" features are a time slider, auto zoom, and the ability to display the DVD player application on top of other windows. (Yes, seriously.) If Microsoft used this loose definition of the word new, it might have advertised Vista as having 11,000 new features. Heck, maybe it should.

    Looking at Leopard objectively, there are precious few truly new features, where to qualify for this label, the feature must actually be new (i.e. have not appeared in any form in a previous version of the product) and must actually be something that impacts end users in a practical way. As with the previous OS X release, Tiger (which Apple claimed only had 200 new features), there are exactly two major new features in Leopard. Virtually everything else Apple added to the system is either a minor evolutionary feature change or an update to a previously existing feature.

    Oddly enough, even the few major new features in Leopard will look familiar to users of other operating systems. There's Time Machine, a bizarre take on the Previous Versions feature in Windows. And there's Spaces, a pleasant graphical front-end to the workspaces functionality that's been available in UNIX and Linux since, well, forever. What's old is new again. -(Well it's new to OS X)-

    Time Machine
    New to Leopard, Time Machine is Apple's version of Microsoft's Previous Versions feature, which first appeared in Windows Server 2003 over four years ago. (It's in Vista too.) Apple calls it a revolutionary way to back up and restore your entire Mac, and that's somewhat true though third party tools have provided most of this functionality for years. What makes Time Machine truly interesting is that it works with certain applications in addition to files and that's something Apple should stress more in its discussions about this feature. Unfortunately, the company mucked up Time Machine with a truly juvenile user interface, one that is horribly out of place in its otherwise staid and professional looking OS X.-(Yeah let's make it the microsoft way with 50 menus and button's to push to retrieve one simple file)- Apple also blows it by requiring a second hard drive: This makes Time Machine less useful for mobile users, which Apple says represent over 50 percent of its sales. Way to ignore your own trends, Apple.

    Because of its reliance on a second hard drive, Time Machine is disabled by default. You can go into the new Time Machine System Preferences utility and enable it manually, but Leopard will prompt you to enable the feature the first time you plug in a compatible USB or Firewire external drive. Enabling Time Machine involves clicking a single On/Off slider, which is as easy as it sounds.

    Once its enabled, Time Machine backs up entire your hard drive, giving you a restorable system backup similar to what's available via Vista's Backup and Restore Center. It then monitors your system going forward so that documents and other data files are backed up as you make changes. That way, you can use the Time Machine UI, crazy as it is, to "go back in time" and recover previous versions of these files. Time Machine works from the Finder, naturally, but also within specific OS X and Apple applications that work with data files, such as Address Book, Mail, and iPhoto 08 (the latter of which must be purchased separately with iLife 08 for $79).

    The restore UI, as mentioned previously, is absolutely insane. Like Front Row, it slides over the desktop and occupyies the full screen. Unlike Front Row, however, it is not attractive or professional looking. Instead, you get an animated star field with a cascading set of windows,-(lets see here you get the cascading windows in Vista with flip 3D. How unprofessional is that???)- stretching back into the visual rear of the screen, depicting whatever folder or Apple application you're using (Figure). (If you launch Time Machine while using a non-supported application like Microsoft Word, you'll simply get a view of whatever Finder window was previously open instead.) On the bottom is a bar with a large Cancel button on the left and a large Restore button on the right. In the middle is text describing the current view ("Today (Now)," "Yesterday at 12:10 PM," and so on).

    Above this bar are arrows pointing back and forward, so you can navigate back and forth through time. On the right is a timeline showing you how far back you can go. Meanwhile, the star field actually animates toward you like a slow motion version of that old Windows screensaver. Snork.

    Optionally, you can also use Spotlight to find items via Time Machine. You can do this from within the currently viewed Finder window inside of Time Machine (which is handy for folders crowded with files). Or, simply perform a normal Spotlight search from the Finder and then, with the results window displaying, tap the Time Machine window in the Dock to see what the search results look like over time. Nice.

    To restore an older version of a file, select it in the current view and click the Restore button. The Finder reappears, and whatever files you selected are copied back.

    For all its niceties, Time Machine has a very basic problem. If you've unplugged the drive that's storing all those backups, you're out of luck: You'll simply get an error dialog if you try to run Time Machine. That will be disheartening to anyone anyway from the home office or on the road, and there's nothing like not having the correct file version available at 30,000 feet when you've got a few hours to kill. Not to belabor the point, but this is a problem Vista users won't face:-(that's right because they don't even know how to use their backup)- Previous Versions is on by default and uses the same disk on which the original file is stored. (And no, it doesn't kill storage space, thanks to its ability to store only parts of files that have changed.)

    That said, Time Machine is nicer than Previous Versions in that it does support some built-in and other Apple applications natively, and it integrates with a system backup feature that is separate in Vista. Overall, Time Machine is a solid addition to Leopard, though I wish Apple would consider adding a Pro interface as well.

    Spaces, like Tiger's Exposé, is one of those power-user features that sophisticated users will latch onto immediately and wonder how they ever lived without it. Less sophisticated users won't even know it exists, let alone care much about it, which is pretty much as it should be. All you really need to know about Spaces is that it's a typically elegant Apple take on a long-time UNIX feature called workspaces, which allows you to configure two or more virtual desktops, or workspaces, each of which can contain its own application windows.

    Like Time Machine, Spaces is disabled by default. You can configure two or more spaces, in multiples of two, in various layouts of rows and columns. There are also some handy keyboard shortcuts to configure. Once it's up and running, you can tap CTRL + one of the arrow keys to move between the various spaces. (I found this to be problematic because I'd often inadvertently tap CTRL + RIGHT ARROW, for example, while trying to navigate word-to-word in Microsoft Word documents.)

    If you're familiar with workspaces, there are no surprises here. You can assign specific applications and windows to specific spaces, move windows between spaces, and all that good stuff. Spaces is heaven if you're organizationally retentive, or perhaps if ALT+TAB (well, Apple + TAB on a Mac) is too complicated for you.

    Improvements over previous versions
    With those two major new features out of the way, it's time to turn to the other changes in Leopard. These changes are simply improvements over similar features in previous versions of OS X and aren't new (or major) updates. I can't possibly cover all of these features in a single review, as there are, after all, over 300 of them. But I would like to highlight some things that are important or at least obvious differences between Leopard and Tiger.

    Improved user experience
    After years of deemphasizing unnecessary translucency effects in Mac OS X, Apple takes a big step back in Leopard. Now, not only are menus more translucent than ever in Leopard, but so is the system-wide menu bar at the top of the screen, meaning that it will rarely be solid white as it’s been in all Mac OS releases since the original version in 1984. The effect is ugly, and I wish you could at least turn it off. For example, if you choose a solid medium blue background color for the desktop, the system wide menu will be light blue, even when you’re using an application in full screen mode (Figure). Pick a photographic wallpaper and it could be anything. It just looks ugly.

    Worse is the updated Dock, which now sports a gratuitous and pointless "3D" shelf effect. There’s no real 3D involved, of course, but there is a hokey looking border, modeled after a highway median strip, separating the two sections of the Dock. As ever, the Dock is a usability nightmare, with overlapping functionality (it contains shortcuts for both running and certain non-running applications as well a separate location for folder shortcuts), but Apple seems to at least tacitly acknowledge this fact: Its added a useful if limited new feature called Stacks to the Dock to close the gap with the superior and more logical Windows Start Menu.

    In previous versions of OS X, if you dragged a folder to the right side of the Dock, it would act like any other shortcut (excuse me, alias in Mac-speak): When clicked, the location would open in a new window. In Leopard, these shortcuts now open Stacks instead. So instead of opening a window, they will instead open an overlay fan display (Figure) (if there are only a few items in the containing folder) or a grid of icons (Figure). This way, you can access the item you wish without going through an additional step (opening a window) and further cluttering the desktop. Sort of. If there are too many items in the underlying folder, the Stack will only show up a sub-set of its contents.

    Like the Windows Start Menu (and the Dock), Stacks use a one-click launch paradigm. You can also configure how items in Stacks are displayed, including various sorting options. It's a nice little feature, though I suspect it will lead to Dock overloading as some users will be tempted to keep aliases off the desktop and use Dock-based Stacks instead. And since a slew of Stack icons right next to each often look nearly identical, you'll be doing a lot of mouse-overs to figure out where that exact Stack you want is located.

    Answering a long-time complaint, Leopard finally sports a consistent look across all applications. As with Windows Vista, Apple also applies a more-obvious drop shadow on the active window to make it visually stand out. Though Apple uses such muted gray colors in the Finder and other windows--a flat dark gray for the active window and a flat light gray for inactive windows--it's about as effective as are Vista's glass-like windows.

    Apple's file manager application, the Finder, has always been adequate, but this time around it's been upgraded with a number of Vista-like features, including a new look and feel (based, go figure, on iTunes) and a semi-customizable sidebar. This, I like quite a bit.

    If you're a fan of iTunes, as I am, you'll enjoy the new Finder. The updated sidebar now sports four collapsible sections, Devices, Shared, Places, and Search For (Shared is disabled if you're offline). The Devices section includes shortcuts to any hard drives, USB storage devices, and other storage related devices that are attached to the Mac. (It will also include a link to iDisk if you're one of that service's 17 users.)

    In Shared, you'll see Macs or PCs on the local network. This initially got me a bit excited, as getting a Mac to actually connect to Windows file shares has always been a bit balky. My Windows-based PCs did show up in the Shared list immediately, which got my hopes up. But connecting to these shares proved even more difficult than with past versions, and the Connect As button, which lets you type in a specific user name and password to connect with particular credentials, wouldn't work until the initial connection attempt failed. And this took quite a bit of time, unfortunately. (This is clearly a bug that will be fixed in the inevitable first Leopard update.) -(or maybe it could be that if it were easier to connect in the first place we wouldn't have this problem)-

    The Places section, like the Favorites list in Vista's Explorer, includes shortcuts to oft-needed shell locations, such as your home folder, the desktop, the documents folder, or your applications folder. And as with Vista, you can easily rearrange these shortcuts, remove shortcuts, or add new shortcuts.

    Search For, as you might expect, is OS X's answer to Vista's Searches folder. Here, you'll see links to prebuilt searches such as Today, Yesterday, Last Week, and links for searching for images or documents. And as like Vista, you can create your own saved searches. These will automatically show up in the Search For list in the Finder when saved.-(actually there kinds of searches although not in the finder were common in Tiger's applications such as iTunes.)-

    In another nod towards reducing steps and thus increasing efficiency, Leopard includes a new feature called Quick Look,-(which Vista can't even touch)- which lets you view the contents of most document types without opening them in the application that created them. This feature, apparently modeled after the preview feature in Windows Desktop Search, augments Leopard's Finder-based icon views which, like those in Vista, use thumbnails to reflect the contents of documents. But Quick Look takes that a step further, providing a quick pop-up view that's half-way between in-window previews and the full application view. It's typical Apple: Over the top and flamboyant, but very attractive.

    Quick Look is accessed via the new Quick Look icon in the Finder toolbar (or you can press the spacebar when a data file is selected in the Finder window). When enabled, Quick Look utilizes a resizable Vista-like window with translucent edges: You can scroll through multiple page documents from within the window, or display Quick Look full screen using an iTunes-like 'heads-up display" with restore and close buttons. Quick Look works with a huge variety of document types, including images, movies, PDF files, Microsoft Office documents, and more. It's a real time saver if you're hunting around and aren't sure where something is. That said, it's also somewhat limited. If you open a text file with, say, a software registration ID inside, you can't copy and paste from Quick Look. You'll have to open your text editor first.

    Another big change to the Finder was also inspired by iTunes: Apple has added a new Cover Flow view style to augment the previous Icon view, List view, and Column view. Cover Flow, which dates back to a third party acquisition, works about as well in the Finder as it does in iTunes and the late 2007 iPods: It's attractive put pointless, and performs poorly (Figure). The first time you open a folder, the document previews will take some time to load, and you'll find yourself tabbing through a list of generic icons instead of rich looking documents. In a nice touch, however, Quick Look works from Cover Flow too. There's also a completely pointless preview mode for multi-page PDFs (and possibly other formats): When you mouse over such documents in Cover Flow mode, you'll see left and right arrow overlays appear. Click these arrows to navigate through the PDF.-(well the whole idea is to scan through a document without having to open it.)-

    Cover Flow also works over the network, though you can expect performance to be even worse in such cases. If you're a .Mac member (and, really, who isn't?) you can access a truly valuable feature, assuming you're also living in a multi-Mac household: You can access your other online Macs, even if they're not on the local network. This can be handy if you're on the road and need to access a file on a different Mac back home, for example.

    Improved Spotlight
    When Apple copied Microsoft's instant search-(coughs while spitting coke all over the computer!)- feature to create Spotlight, it only got it partially right, so the Leopard version addresses some of the missing features from Tiger. For example, you can now search online help, which is sort of a "duh" feature. Spotlight now supports Boolean operators like AND, OR, and NOT, which should be familiar to database gurus and Google fans. As with Vista's Start Menu search feature, you can now use Spotlight to quickly find and launch applications. (This was possible in previous versions, but wasn't as seamless.)-(I never had a problem with it)- And for all you DOS-minded folks out there, you can actually use Spotlight to search for file names now.-(WHAT????)- What a country.

    For those with multi-Mac households, Spotlight works across the network now, too, which could be useful. You have to enable Personal File Sharing first, however.

    Improved Safari
    Apple's lackluster Safari Web browser is updated to version 3 in Leopard and it features some improvements that will be familiar to user of Firefox. First, there's an enhanced find that works a lot like the Find functionality in Mozilla Firefox, with a subtle Find box near the toolbar instead of an obtrusive dialog box as in previous Safari versions. Of course, Apple being Apple, Safari's new Find feature is a bit flashy, dimming out the parts of the displayed page that don't include the text you're searching for.

    Safari 3 also supports drag and drop tab reordering, another feature lifted from Firefox. However, Apple one-ups Firefox with an additional feature that lets you drag a tab into its own window by dragging it below the tab row. Nice.

    Safari 3 now supports creating a single bookmark from an entire range of tabs. Yes, you guessed it: Just like Firefox.

    Improved Mail
    I've been a big fan of Apple's Mail application since it was called in the NeXTStep days. Given its lineage, however, there's really not a lot Apple can do to improve things, so what we get in Leopard is just a few new email-oriented features, like new stationary (which is admittedly attractive), simpler email account setup (similar to what's on the iPhone), and, finally, mailbox archiving. Confusingly, most of the rest of the new features in Mail have nothing to do with email at all.

    For example, you can now create and even manage iCal To-Do's from within Mail. There's the requisite RSS support, just in case the RSS support in Safari was too obvious for you. And then there's the strangest new feature, Notes, which, yes, lets you write notes in Mail. This feature is weird because notes have nothing to do with email and because the default look and feel of the Notes is almost identical to the terrible-looking Notes application on the iPhone. I guess no idea is bad enough not to copy.

    Improved iChat
    Whereas Microsoft is busy melding its instant messaging technologies into corporate communications tools that enterprises will want to implement, Apple has its feet firmly in the consumer space with its own IM solution, iChat. In Leopard, iChat picks up the usually lame Photo Booth effects (squeeze, stretch, whatever), which isn't all that interesting. What is cool, however, is the new backdrop effects, which let you place a still or video image behind you in sort of a virtual green screen mode. The effect can be quite professional when it work--it will depend largely on the background---though you'll have to reprogram it every time you move your laptop as it relies on first studying the background to understand what to cut out. You can supply your own still and video backdrops too. Cute.

    While other instant messaging solutions provide basic document and screen sharing features, iChat goes one better, assuming everyone involved has Leopard. A new feature called iChat Theater lets you share photos, Keynote presentations (requires iLife '08, which is not included in Leopard), QuickTime movies, and other items in a nice full screen UI. This feature uses Quick Look technology, according to Apple, so any document type that can previewed in Quick Look can be shared here. The new iChat also provides a nifty screen sharing feature, which will be a boon to anyone that needs to do remote troubleshooting on a family member or friend's Mac.

    Other improved features
    But wait there's more.

    Boot Camp lets you dual-boot between Leopard and Windows XP or Vista. Not to be a jerk about it, but this could prove to be Leopard's best feature: While Leopard itself is pretty tame overall, the ability to run Windows is going to help sell a lot of Macs. Of course, Boot Camp, like so many Leopard features, has actually been around for a while, this time as a free beta for Tiger. (See my reviews of Boot Camp and Boot Camp 1.2 for more information.) The big change in the Leopard version of Boot Camp is that Apple has dropped a step from the installation process: Instead of creating a Windows driver disk, you can now access Windows drivers directly from the Leopard install DVD. Note that Boot Camp only works with 32-bit versions of Windows for some reason. If you were hoping to use Vista x64 on that Macbook, as I was, you're out of luck.

    Leopard features enhanced parental controls, compared to what was available in Tiger. In fact, they're downright Vista-esque. Instead of just offering Administrator and Standard user account types, however, Apple goes on step further and offers a new account type, Managed with Parental Controls, which is clearly aimed at children. You can select a simpler system UI, allow only certain applications, restrict access to Web sites, email, and instant messaging, and even hide profanity in the system dictionary. As with Vista, Leopard provides UI for limiting when kids can use the computer, though Leopard's interface is more convoluted than what Vista offers. You can also view activity reports, as with Vista.

    Front Row has been enhanced to closely resemble the Apple TV user interface, which makes sense. Functionally, Front Row is still a poor alternative to Microsoft's Media Center, but something very positive has happened since Tiger: It no longer appears to quietly launch iTunes and other applications in the background. Overall, this is a decent application that badly needs a DVR (digital video recording) module for live and recorded TV functionality.

    As is usually the case, Apple has provided a number of updates for developers and other technical users. The AppleScript scripting language and Xcode and Dashcode development environments have been improved somewhat, and the Automator feature that was so heavily promoted when Tiger shipped in 2005 can now record user actions and recreate them as a workflow. UNIX fans can exult in the fact that Leopard is a fully certified UNIX operating system that conforms to the Single UNIX Specification (SUSv3) and POSIX 1003.1. That should move some boxes.

    Apple has significantly simplified the process of upgrading an existing Mac install to Leopard, and unlike with Windows, I have no qualms recommending this procedure to Mac users. The Leopard upgrade will take an hour or two to complete, according to Apple. My Leopard installs were much closer to an hour, however.

    Vista vs. Leopard: A switcher's dilemma
    Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard is similar enough to Windows that I think most Windows users would have little issue using it from a functional perspective, though they may miss certain applications or features. Certainly, my wife, who is by no means a computer-savvy technophile, has had no huge issues since moving to the Mac. She's been on the Mac platform for two years now, though her computing needs are arguably pretty limited.

    The problem with Leopard from a switcher's perspective is that it doesn't change the equation at all. It's not like OS X, which has had no real world viruses or malware attacks over the year, has gotten any more secure in a realistic sense. Taken a step further, there's no real effort with Leopard to attract Windows users, no application compatibility mode, no wizard for moving over documents and settings automatically, nothing of that kind at all.

    Leopard will be attractive to a certain class of Windows users for the same reasons that Tiger was. Maybe you're a big fan of Apple's iTunes and iPod and want more software tools that work similarly. Maybe you're attracted to Apple's admittedly beautiful Mac hardware, and simply like the thought of a 24-inch iMac on your desk or a sleek Macbook in your travel bag. Whether these and other reasons for preferring Apple's products over the PC pack are valid or not is debatable. What isn't debatable is that Leopard does nothing to tilt the scales any further to the Mac side. You're either into this stuff or you're not.

    And that, I think, is Leopard's biggest failing. While I don't believe that describing Leopard as a minor release is a criticism, other than of Apple's marketing, shipping such an inconsequential upgrade in the wake of Hurricane Vista was a mistake. Microsoft has sold 85 million copies of Vista in 9 months, and it's selling 25 million copies of the OS every quarter. If Apple is seriously about slowing that growth, it needs to offer an OS that is obviously better than Vista. -(which would be Tiger and Leopard)- Leopard is not that system.-(and that's why XP is still preferred over Vista)-

    Leopard is, however, equal to Vista in many ways. I just don't feel that that will be enough to drive new users to the Mac. This was a missed opportunity.

    Final thoughts
    Make no mistake: Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" is the real deal, a mature and capable operating system and a worthy competitor to Windows Vista. But then, so was Tiger, Leopard's predecessor.

    Are there problems with Leopard? Sure. I point first to the price, $129, which is extravagant for a product that's been updated so frequently since 2001. (Apple also sells a Leopard family pack for a more reasonable $199, a boon to multi-Mac households.) But $129 is only the beginning of the price Mac users will pay for Leopard. Some of those (ahem) 300+ new features actually require a .Mac subscription at a hefty $99 a year, while others require the latest version of iLife, also updated annually at $79. And since Leopard, like all previous Mac OS X releases, excludes certain classes of Macs from its compatibility list, some users will simply need new hardware. This is another area where Apple is far more aggressive than Microsoft, and it leads to more technically advanced but less compatible system. Thus far, Apple's users have been openly supportive of this policy, opening their wallets every time the company announced a new product.

    Another problem with Leopard is the unmet expectations. Apple, like Microsoft with Windows Vista, promised more than it delivered with Leopard, and even went so far as to promise secret new features that never materialized.-(oh really since you have all the info what were those "secret features" since you know they weren't implemented)- It's one thing to explain, as Microsoft did repeatedly with Vista, why certain features are being dropped; that's just disappointing. It's quite another thing, however, to brazenly promise secret features to a giggling crowd and then not deliver them and pretend the promise was never made. That's pathologically dishonest and disillusioning.

    Leopard is also incomplete. If you purchase this product on October 26, you'll be getting pre-release quality software that Apple will update early and often, as they've done so often in the past with virtually all of its software products in the past several years.-(And Microsoft never has a complete product even when they release a new one)- While your garden-variety Mac zealot may bristle at this suggestion, people who actually beta tested Leopard know what I'm talking about. It will get better over time. It always does.

    But the biggest problem with Leopard is that it doesn't really offer enough of an advantage over Vista to make anyone want to switch. For all the baloney news stories about Vista's supposed problems, Microsoft's latest operating system is actually a solid effort that finally closed the gap with Mac OS X. Leopard was Apple's chance to once again leapfrog Windows, and given the five years of delays Microsoft put us through, it should have been a slam-dunk. That Apple was only able to come up with something that's roughly as good as Vista is both surprising and telling, I think. Leopard just isn't better than Vista. And it should be.

    No matter. Leopard is an excellent product. Mac users will upgrade immediately or purchase new Leopard-based hardware with no regrets, and that's just fine. But if you're a Windows user sitting on the fence, Leopard doesn't change the switcher equation at all.

    --Paul Thurrott
    Octobe 26, 2007

    I'm sorry but Microsoft people are the biggest koolaid drinkers of their products. He can't seem to wonder why XP isn't going away any time soon and yet he claims Vista is better. C'mon! What annoys me the most is how people can be so inconsistent. Call me a fanboy I don't care, but having used Windows for 16 years I just got fed up with all the garbage.
  2. pknz macrumors 68020


    Mar 22, 2005
    I looked over it yesterday.

    I found it odd he at times, called it excellent, to good, to not being much better than Vista...I think he isn't sure himself of what he thinks.

    The guy's a bit of a twat.
  3. nuclearwinter macrumors regular


    Nov 3, 2003
    Milky Way
    I think his review is spot on. Leopard is what Tiger might have been had Apple's development cycle not been so short. While Paul seems a little bit embittered by all the Apple fanatics railing on him all the time (usually by immediately insulting him and dismissing his opinion outright), he's absolutely right on nearly every point. I think he makes some oversights and paints in broad strokes regarding some technical points, but he usually keeps a rather level head when it comes to real world impact.

    Honestly, Leopard is great, but not a huge leap over Vista or Tiger. That said, I pre-ordered the family pack for my family and love using it instead of Tiger.
  4. Me1000 macrumors 68000


    Jul 15, 2006
    Thurrot is such a Microsoft fanboy.

    for the sake of keeping up with the MS world i listen to his podcast, and he seems very reasonable there. I think this is becasue he has leo lepporte to shut him up if he goes off on his MS fanboy rant!

    Every apple review he has done is full of bias!

  5. illuminous macrumors member

    Oct 27, 2007
    You know what's funny about this review, every feature that he likes, he still manages to say that Apple got the idea for some windows feature. But the best line in the whole thing has to be...."shipping such an inconsequential upgrade in the wake of Hurricane Vista was a mistake". Although saying that, I suppose you could consider it a hurricane, upgrading from XP to Vista, all it does it cause complete devastation to your computer.
  6. weaverra thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 27, 2006
    Maybe that's what he meant:rolleyes:
  7. mac-er macrumors 65816

    Apr 9, 2003
    I think that Thurrott tends to review Apple from afar, and he is usually spot on about it. And, he gives it to MS when they deserve it, as well. His Vista review isn't all roses. I think he refers to the crazies as the ones that automatically call him a MS fanboy as soon as he criticizes Apple.

    He definitely has it right about Apple releasing beta products as Version 1. OS X 10.0 GM was missing tons of features. And, Apple's Rev A. hardware is notorious for the same.

    And, actually, MS did reveal instant, built-in search years before Apple. They first introduced the concept when they first started talking about Longhorn. Though, Apple implemented it quicker, just to say they did.

    And, honestly, when Steve mentioned that there were "Secret Features", I was expecting a bit more than what was revealed after WWDC 06. I was expecting something groundbreaking that MS would surely want to put into their next OS.
  8. nuclearwinter macrumors regular


    Nov 3, 2003
    Milky Way
    I might be missing your point, but I think you might be missing his also. I think what he means (and I'm getting this both from the article and his Windows Weekly podcast) is that Apple had a once in a lifetime chance to deliver a massive blow to it's competition on the OS front. Vista is struggling to gain acceptance and stability. Apple could have come in as the great savior of personal computing, but instead, they delivered Leopard. Don't get me wrong, Leopard is a great step forward. The problem is that its not a great leap forward.

    Seriously, with Super Duper for back up and Quicksilver for searches, launching, etc., Tiger was awesome. It competed with Vista quite well on its own. Leopard might be better than Vista in terms of "checking the feature boxes," but that doesn't make it enough to make people choose Mac OS X over their old standby, Windows.
  9. briand05 macrumors 6502

    Jan 23, 2005
    He's right on somethings and wrong on number of others. Well he's right that Leopard isn't really that huge of a leap over Tiger, he's wrong in comparing it to a Windows service pack. I also think his whining about the Time Machine interface is rather dumb. The thing about Apple coping Microsoft for the search, while the technology was there in Windows first, Microsoft never bothered to implement it until Apple did and Microsoft did basically copy Apple's implementation. Vista isn't as much of a leap over XP as he thinks as well.
  10. megatronbomb macrumors 6502


    Oct 26, 2007
    Portland, OR
    I agree he's a bit on the contradictory side, but I concur with this...

    While the Apple hype machine and its fanatical followers would have you believe that Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" is a major upgrade to the company's venerable operating system, nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, Leopard is yet another evolutionary upgrade

    I think Leopard was way overhyped.
  11. weaverra thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 27, 2006
    Actually I had third parts indexing searches before Longhorn was announced
  12. Merlyn3D macrumors 6502

    May 15, 2006
    Hahaha......I almost did the same thing right before I read your comment.
  13. Eluzion macrumors 6502

    Aug 7, 2007
    I thought it was a pretty good review. I will definitely agree with the whole 300 features statement -- kind of silly but whatever floats their boat.

    I do feel like some changes in Leopard were simply done for the sake of making a change and not the actual functionality. The transparent menu bar, for example, is pretty pointless in my opinion and the fact that you can't even adjust the opacity is lame. The stacks are cool, but for certain folders I'd prefer how it was in Tiger since you can actual navigate through folders. Why not make it an option to turn the dock item into a stack or leave it like it was in Tiger? Anyways, I just wish OS X had a little more customizability to it. It's either Apples way or the highway...
  14. gauchogolfer macrumors 603


    Jan 28, 2005
    American Riviera
    He lost me at saying the Dock is hugely inferior to the Windows Start Menu.
  15. weaverra thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 27, 2006
    You know Apple didn't create the computer in the 70's, but the did make the Personal Computer. They say they copied xerox well it just so happens that they took the idea and turned it into a consumer product. BTW from what I have read is that xerox really didn't care and got a cut in Apple stock and cash. Then lo and behold Microsoft comes out with Windows 1.0 way after Apple created it's OS. So Microsoft had to sign an agreement to not copy Apple in Windows version 1.0, but not including future versions. Soooooo.......where would Microsoft be if it weren't for Apple? That is the question
  16. VoodooDaddy macrumors 65816

    May 14, 2003
    Still reading through it, but I found this odd:

    "Apple also blows it by requiring a second hard drive: This makes Time Machine less useful for mobile users, which Apple says represent over 50 percent of its sales. Way to ignore your own trends, Apple."

    I dont understand his reasoning here. They blew it for requiring a 2nd hard drive?? Isnt it pretty much common understanding to have a real backup you need a 2nd drive? If you partition you main drive, and use the other half of that to back up with, what happens when the drive fails?? Youve lost your main drive AND your backup. Unless Im missing something here, how else are you suppose to backup without an external hdd?
  17. 1000000 macrumors newbie

    Oct 26, 2007
    weaverra, your "comments" are idiotic at best. Seriously, are apple fanboys all like this? I understand the review is bias but like apple fanboys aren't? Comon fight for something real not this bull crap.

    Full Disclosure: I do own an apple and use windows also.
  18. flopticalcube macrumors G4


    Sep 7, 2006
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    I don't understand. I thought they were all fairly reasonable comments. Care to clarify?
  19. Merlyn3D macrumors 6502

    May 15, 2006
    Yes but the point with regards to spotlight is that Spotlight was a feature the Windows crew saw when Tiger was introduced. When the windows crew saw this and several other features in Tiger, they went back to the drawing board with Vista. To say Apple copied microsoft with spotlight just shows how little this guy knows about what went on in the development of both Microsoft and Apple.

    BTW, I love my macbook pro, but I use windows too, although I have intentionally steered clear of vista because UAC just pissed me off one too many times.
  20. jaw04005 macrumors 601


    Aug 19, 2003
    I like Paul, Windows Weekly with Leo and the "SuperSite for Windows" very much. However, Paul has a few factual errors in his review that I think he needs to address.

    1. Steve Jobs never said that Leopard would be released before Vista. He said during a WWDC keynote that they plan to ship Leopard "around the same time as Vista." Since Vista launched in Jan. 07, I would say releasing Leopard in Oct. 07 is "around the same time." It's OK to point out the both Vista and Leopard were delayed. However, comparing a substantial delay of five years to a more reasonable delay of six months is baiting. Apple never announced (officially or unofficially) that they plan to launch Leopard before Vista.

    2. Time Machine is not comparable to Windows Vista's Previous Versions. They are two entirely different features aimed at different users. Previous Versions is for enterprise and business users. Previous Versions is basically a repository for file changes. Time Machine is a consumer backup utility that primary use is for backing up and restoring files that have been deleted not managing file revisions. Paul should have compared Time Machine to Windows Vista's Backup. That would have been a more on par review.

    To be honest, I don't think Paul "gets" Time Machine. He seemed confused about its purpose on Windows Weekly.
  21. Merlyn3D macrumors 6502

    May 15, 2006
    True....I would expect to see Time Machine improved upon though....especially if Apple really likes ZFS and decides to implement that as the new FS for OS X. If that happens, building "previous versions" into OS X wouldn't be difficult at all.
  22. pb30 macrumors newbie

    Jul 2, 2007
    I think he's probably referring to using Time Machine for version control or accidental deletions. An extra drive requires carrying it with your laptop constantly. However if Time Machine worked on a second partition or a network drive this wouldn't be as bad (does it?)
  23. nuclearwinter macrumors regular


    Nov 3, 2003
    Milky Way
    While I wouldn't go as far as to call the comments "idiotic," I would call them pointless and cheap shots at best. I believe the OP was essentially trying rally the fanatics in an attempt to burn Paul Thurrott in virtual effigy, and not provide a critical review of his article. Some of the comments made by the OP I found a bit childish. None of the comments had any substance or backing either and were obviously rooted in blind opinion (although, to be fair, Mr. Thurrott may have been victim to the same pitfall in some cases).
  24. macguysoft macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2007
    Considering Apple was jumping back from a crisis, I would say they did rather well with it as they redid everything to build on a solid foundation. During this time of evolutionary development, it has made Windows developers look like a bunch of fat monkeys. The problem with Microsoft as Steve Jobs aptly put it is that they have no taste...

    LOL!! Wow what a horrible way to twist the truth... First off, Mac OS X has always been indexing files and it was faster than Windows in that regard. Spotlight was then later added to to search for metadata... Improving search SPEED is really not some "radically" new idea. How can you really say that MS actually invented this?

    Don't trust me much on this one but wasn't Longhorn based on indexing rather than indexing metadata? If so, then this is hardly the method that Spotlight uses. Furthermore, take a look at a patent that Apple put forward on 2000 around 5 years BEFORE Longhorn. Even so, also take into the consideration that Apple must've gotten it out earlier because their development team is superior. Geez, even the MS team was surprised at the fact that Apple was able to do it with such ease.

    Thurrott is a MS fanboy and gives the false impression that he's giving a balanced view when in reality, he is full of contradictions, lies, and false accusations.

    Mac OS X is everything Windows is not. Holistically speaking, the foundation is far superior than MS which is something they can't simply "add" to their OS in 10 years.
  25. 1000000 macrumors newbie

    Oct 26, 2007
    maybe you should re-read it then.

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