The Verdict: Leopard

30 10 2007

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.

MyLeopardDesktop

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.





VistaBook Pro

3 10 2007

Well it’s been a looooong time since I last posted, I sorta fell out of the habit, and didn’t really have much to say that a lot more people weren’t already saying, but today I thought I would share with you my latest experiences with Windows Vista…on my Mac.

Not a lot of people I know who use Windows, use Vista. Mostly they have stuck with XP because there was no real need for them to upgrade, and the strange lack of drivers, even now, would have forced them to buy a lot of new hardware that is supported.  A friend of mine from work has been waiting pretty much since Vista was released, for his sound card to have drivers made for it – and this is a relatively new sound card that is still being sold today!

The only real reason I need Windows at all any more is for the games. There just aren’t as many games out for the Mac right now, as there are for Window – and even when a game is released on the Mac, it is usually a long while after the Windows release, and invariably has compatibility problems if you try to play over a LAN or the Internet with Windows clients.  The additional price of a Mac release is also a little irritating.

For me, the only real solution to this is just install Windows itself and boot into it if I want to play a particular game.

So, having downloaded and installed Basecamp 1.4, burned a drivers CD  and inserted my Vista DVD, I was soon running through the Vista installation process. That itself was very quick, and in around 10/15 minutes I was actually booting into Vista for the first time.

Out with the Vista CD and in with the Mac drivers CD, I ran the setup file and let it install all the drivers, and then rebooted to see Vista in all it’s shiny glory:

VistaBook Pro

That was all I needed to do to get all the hardware on my MacBook Pro working with Windows. I have sound that works with the keyboard volume controls, I have a remote control, I have latest video card drivers, I have the works.

Even more impressive is that my Apple Bluetooth Keyboard works perfectly – all the characters are in the right place, and the software function keys work great as well.

Vista reports a Windows Experience Index of 4.1 on my MacBook Pro, and performs amazingly, in fact is probably the best I’ve seen it perform to date, the visual effects look truly gorgeous on the widescreen, and since they don’t lag or cause any slow down on the MacBook Pro, they don’t feel like they’re in the way all the time.

So with such an easy and quick trouble free experience installing on a Mac,  why are people having so many drivers issues with newer kit, and why is it taking so long for the PC industry to respond with new drivers for what must surely be considered the target OS?

The fact that the Mac platform can run Vista so well is yet another good selling point for potential switchers – having Windows work on your new Mac exactly how you would expect it to, with no strange Mac related behaviour, is a sort of safety net, meaning people can more confidently make the transition from PC to Mac.

The new version of Leopard of course has BootCamp built in, and apparently BootCamp for Tiger will expire when this new version is released – here’s hoping that the process runs just as smoothly when it is.