As my good friend, Scott Driza, so eloquently pointed out on his blog, Hobbub.com, there has been some negative press coming out about Apple’s latest operating system release, Mac OS X Leopard. While I haven’t had a chance to install Leopard on my own Mac, I find it incredibly difficult to believe some of the claims coming from historically pro-PC web sites and magazines. As far as I’m concerned, Walt Mossberg and David Pogue have given Leopard their seal of approval, and that’s good enough for me. Both of those guys know their stuff when it comes to the Mac so I trust and respect their opinion. While I also have respect for magazines like eWeek, I know that they are relatively new to the Mac scene so I take a lot of what they say with a grain of salt. I know their experience is mainly with Windows, and that’s cool because I use Windows at work and like to keep up with what is going on in that world too. Anyway, I have a feeling a lot of the negative comments about Leopard are being a bit overblown now that Apple is in the mainstream spotlight, and really, that’s a good thing because it will only make Apple work harder to make their products that much better, and that must really have their competition shaking in their boots. Many of Apple’s products are already industry standards for quality so just imagine the products they will introduce thanks to the increased coverage and pressure from the mainstream press and Wall Street.
Being the good Apple soldier, I was one of those guys standing in a line in a mall hallway waiting for the Apple Store to reopen for the Leopard World Premiere. As I mentioned earlier, I even took my daughter (see very old, but cool picture above) to join in the festivities. It wasn’t until we got in line that she realized we weren’t going to an apple store; we were going to the Apple Store. It didn’t take her long to get into the excitement surrounding the event. The people in line were so fun and happy that it was hard not to get sucked into the moment. The Apple Store employees made it a lot of fun too by doing a count down and taking pictures and videos when people were finally allowed in the store.
Once the store opened, the line moved very fast. This was nothing like the time my brother, Greg, and I stood in line for hours just to see what the Chicago Michigan Avenue store looked like. We got into the store in plenty of time to get a t-shirt (yes, I have yet another Apple t-shirt now). The atmosphere in the store was electric. Judging by some of the questions I heard while walking around, I could tell many of the people were new to the Mac. Perhaps they were drawn in by the large line of people. With that many people, surely something incredible must be going on, right?
I do have to say that Leopard ran very well on the demonstration machines in the store. Of course, these are the latest and greatest Macs. It better run well on these machines. Quick Look was very cool, and Spaces turned out to be a lot cooler than I thought it would be. The new version of Mail looked very good. It makes me wish I could use a Mac as my regular every day work computer. Overall, the OS seemed to be very responsive and polished. I expected nothing less of Apple, though.
On top of everything going on with Leopard last night, something else grabbed my attention in the store. Obviously, most people outside of the Reality Distortion Field are drawn to the iPods and iPhone. I watched many people first gravitate to the tables with those devices. They clearly were not Mac users. In fact, one woman called the Apple Store the iPhone Store. Something cool happened with these people when they were done playing with all of the latest iPods; they started playing with the Macs! I think a lot of homes will have shiny new Macs this holiday season. Let’s hope this is a trend that makes its way into the business world too. With so many corporate applications now using web-based technologies, there is no reason a major corporation could not use Macs as their desktop solution. No reason at all. Sure, they may need to use Windows on the server side if they use ASP.NET, but if they use PHP, they could even have Macs on the server side. It’s all starting to come together.
On a personal note, something else really cool happened at the Apple Store last night. I watched first hand as my daughter officially got sucked into the Reality Distortion Field. First she played at the kids table with all of the cool applications for kids her age. Then she found the iPod nano. We were at the iPod table the rest of the night. She instantly figured out how to use it without any instruction from me. That says a lot about the iPod interface. She had a little more difficulty with the iPhone interface. You hear that, Apple?
We had a lot of fun at the Leopard World Premiere last night. Kyah is now an Apple evangelist, I talked a lady into buying an iPod touch for her kid, and we had some really good father-daughter time. I didn’t buy Leopard last night because I’m not convinced my old Power Mac G4 will be able to handle all of the cool features that are important to me. I would love to have it, though, so we’ll see what happens when 10.5.1 comes out.
That’s right, folks. Today is the day Apple releases Leopard into the wild! I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping to make my way over to my local Apple Store to geek out a bit and experience Leopard first hand. I may even take my eight year old daughter to get her sucked into the Reality Distortion Field at a nice early age. If you’re interested in participating in the Leopard launch, visit Apple’s web site to find the Apple Retail Store closest to you.
The Unofficial Apple Weblog is doing a great series of posts called 24 Hours of Leopard. The TUAW bloggers are examining the features in Leopard that interest them most. If you want to know about the latest and greatest version of Mac OS X, head on over to TUAW.
I finally had a chance to watch the Mac OS X Leopard Guided Tour over the weekend, and it looks awesome! There were many features presented in the tour that will most likely change the way people use their Macs. Here are some of the new features that I’m excited about.
Stacks is a new Dock feature that allows users to quickly and easily view folder contents directly from the Dock. I see this as a great way to group files that need to be accessed often. As presented in the tour, it also makes a lot of sense to have a Stack for downloads so you can easily get to the most recently downloaded files without cluttering your desktop. Although it may take a little while for people to change their habits to take full advantage of Stacks, it will be a feature that people will really appreciate.
Quick Look is a new view within the Finder that allows users to preview certain types of files directly in the Finder. When you have several files in a folder that have similar names, Quick Look will make it very easy to find the right file. My only concern about this feature is that it may perform slowly on my poor old Power Mac G4. If the performance is good, I look forward to using this new feature to find my files.
Time Machine is the new backup feature built right in to the operating system. This one feature alone gives me enough reason to upgrade to Leopard. Having a solid backup routine is so important, and most people don’t do it because it is so confusing or time consuming to do correctly. Time Machine takes all of the guess work out of backup by performing hourly backups in the background. I think people will appreciate this new feature more than anything else included in Leopard especially when they go through a drive failure. As they say, it’s not if a drive will fail, it is when.
I really like the new version of Mail. For new users, the smart setup utility will make it incredibly easy to add new mail accounts. For services like Gmail, Yahoo, and .Mac, all you need to know is your email address and password to set up the account in Mail. This is a huge step forward for the less technically inclined out there. The new Notes and To Do features will make it easier to keep track of those types of things without having to send emails to yourself. I do this constantly so I know I will use this feature. The new Stationary templates also look really nice for the times when you want to add a little something extra to emails.
One thing that concerns me is that these cool new features will not make it into the .Mac web interface. As far as I am concerned, all features that are available in the desktop client should also be available in the web interface. If there is not a huge .Mac update on Friday, I will be very disappointed.
The new version of iChat looks fantastic! Sharing iPhoto Events and Keynote Presentations directly in iChat will make it possible to have very interactive online video meetings. It also looks like any file type supported by Quick Look can also be shared in iChat.
The new Backdrops will be really fun to use. Instead of showing the world my mess of an office, I can show cool patterns or even images. I will use this feature a lot!
Finally, Screen Sharing will make it insanely easy to collaborate with others online. I see this as a great way to work with others on projects as well as provide technical support to my family. I hope my Mac has enough horsepower to make all of these features work.
Leopard looks to be a very significant update to Mac OS X that will keep Apple at the forefront of operating system design. Thanks to Apple’s release schedule, it’s like getting a brand new Mac every year or so. This time, though, we may actually have to get a new Mac to take advantage of all of these cool new features. Damn you Apple for making me want to spend more money!