So with the eye candy out of the way, it’s worth looking at Apple’s headline features for Leopard, and none has grabbed more headlines – for both good and bad reasons – than Time Machine.
The concept behind the idea is simple: attach a large backup hard drive to your computer and allow the software to create a system-wide backup. New backups are then incremental, with several increments being saved simultaneously to the drive – enabling you to pull up an interface to go back through different ‘versions from history’ of your machine. Whilst Time Machine comes with whizzy graphics and the promise of making backups a no-brainer, fundamentally it is just an incremental backup system with flashy vectors.
Which would be fine, were it not for its awkwardness. For starters, many users have reported that Time Machine has trashed their data trying to back it up, and others have reported system crashes upon use. Some external disks don’t work properly for no apparent reason, and support for wireless disk access over Airport was nixed at the last minute. In short, it’s great to have a full-feature easy to use backup system integrated into the OS, but Time Machine needs a patch before anyone should start using it.
Then comes Spaces, an interesting idea partly because it’s really quite a geeky one, and this is probably why Leopard ships with the feature turned off by default. Linux users have enjoyed multiple desktops for years, and Spaces is an implementation of this. The concept is that users can create multiple ‘virtual’ desktop areas for themselves, and then switch between each one at will – keeping work applications open on one space, internet open on another, music and media open on another etc. Apple has done a great job at enabling users to move between spaces and drag applications along for the ride. The concept is a bit of a weird one to get your head around for the first time, but it’s actually a very useful one if you don’t have room for four monitors on your desk and tend to multitask a heck of a lot.
Finally we’re up to Boot Camp, the run-Windows-on-Macs software that has been in beta since last year. Leopard finally sees the 1.0 release, and everything is pretty much the same as it was in the beta. In fact, there’s almost nothing to add. Right then.