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Apple Mac OS X v 10.5 - Leopard - The Also-Rans
Remember those 300 new features we mentioned? Well we've mentioned the big ones above, so you'd be right in thinking that the rest are mostly gumph. Here's a few examples:
* Apple Mail now supports RSS reading, custom HTML stationary and to do lists.
* iChat now allows you to have a tabbed chat window and add 'crazy' effects to your video chat window.
* Parental controls mean someone can limit your computer time for you.
* You can now do calculations in the Spotlight dialogue.
* You can create a dashboard widget out of a webpage.
Actually, that last one isn't half-bad, but as you can see, the bulk of Leopard's new features really aren't anything to pay attention to. There are some nice tweaks, as in iChat, but nothing that's actually going to change the way you use your computer.
What's annoying is that Apple has missed many opportunities here to actually improve rather than fiddle - Mail still doesn't support a vertical viewing pane style, and why shoehorn RSS into it when Apple could create a gorgeous little RSS reader of its own? Why has Leopard broken many applications that worked just fine in Tiger and, more to the point, why hasn't Apple added a 'previous OS emulation' mode like Windows has had for years? And why doesn't the DVD Player support HD, for crying out loud? Drives have been on the market for more than a year now, and there's still no way to play the latest movies from Blu-ray or HD-DVD on my Mac, despite having a display that supports 1080p.
Not to mention the fact that several of the 300 features listed as new actually aren't new at all. ‘Front Row now built in to Mac OSX Leopard', proclaims Apple. Really? I'm pretty sure that was in Tiger, too. Russian localisation is also listed as brand spanking new - that's funny, since I'm pretty sure our comrades have been enjoying that in Tiger since earlier this year. I could go on, but looking at the list of language packs is sapping my will to live.
All in all, it's hard to view Leopard as much of an advance on Tiger. The interface improvements are a mixture of 'great' and 'meh', while the new features don't really add much beyond tweaks to your daily workflow. The feature with the ability to really blow you away - Spaces - is switched off by default, and probably won't be found by the majority of people.
So whilst Leopard will undoubtedly sell tonnes of copies (quite apart from the fact it will now ship with all new Macs), it's hard not to feel that, given the system's delay and hype, Apple has delivered too little too late - with too many bugs, to boot. Perhaps it's time for Apple to start thinking about OS XI?
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