When you have such as good operating system, it is always difficult when you are preparing to introduce the successor. You have to make sure that there is something worthwhile for everyone to want to upgrade to it, but you don’t want to risk changing too many thing, for risk of alienating people.
Mac OS X has been through 4 major revisions since it’s inception and the latest version , dubbed “Leopard” is arguably the biggest version yet. It has attracted, like most new Apple products, intense scrutiny such that even the slightest change has sparked strong debate.
When I worked with Windows, I never used to upgrade to the latest version immediately, as there was always one problem or another that would need fixing before you could take the plunge. When I switched to Macs, I started on version 10.3 of OS X, “Panther”. I was with it for quite a while, and when the news started emerging regarding the new version, named “Tiger”, I of course started reading up, and was rapidly swept up in the excitement and speculation of what it would include. Regardless to say, I had my copy pre-ordered and shipped to where I worked ready to install on my iBook soon after release.
So of course, it was no different when it came to Leopard. I have been eagerly anticipating it’s release for some time now, and (thanks to an Apple Developer Connection membership at work) watching it develop and take shape over the course of this year has been very interesting to say the least. But, here is the main question – is Leopard worth the upgrade from Tiger?
My answer to that is a resounding YES. Even if you totally ignore the other features – the Unified interface, brand new Finder, much improved Spotlight, Stacks for the Dock, Core Animation, the new Dock, the list goes on – even if you totally ignored them all, the speed increase alone is worth the upgrade. Everything in Leopard just seems to fly. From the most mundane of tasks, to the most complex, the whole system is so much faster it is amazing.
Normally with a new operating system you expect to suffer a slight performance hit, but with Leopard, the optimisation that has taken place penetrates to the core of the system, there is not a single thing that doesn’t perform noticeably faster. The new unified interface really makes working with everything feel more solid and integrated, as well as adding a bit more eye candy which just makes it more enjoyable to use.
What else is on the menu in Leopard? The new Finder is far superior; as well as being quicker and far less susceptible to becoming unresponsive with dodgy network volumes, it has a lot better interface, with the new sidebar and tighter controls over the appearance of your file system, working with your files has never been as good!
Spotlight is also much, much faster and doesn’t suffer from the same problems that the Tiger version did when dealing with huge numbers of files.
Then there is Spaces, the Leopard virtual desktop solution, with more polish and ease of use than any other virtual desktop application I’ve used, Time Machine which has to be the easiest backup application to set up and use ever, Quick Look for previewing the contents of almost any file without having to wait for the main application to load, and well, the list goes on. 300 new features according to Apple and I’m not about to dispute that!
I’m really impressed with Leopard so far, even more impressed than I was with Tiger over Panther, and that’s saying something. Even better is the fact that it costs a mere £85 inc. VAT for a single user, or just £129 for a 5-user family pack.
My verdict: Leopard = Awesome and well worth an upgrade.