Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger Reviewby Anand Lal Shimpi on April 29, 2005 3:15 PM EST
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I've been a Mac/PC user for almost a full year now - it's very hard to believe that last June, I took a (very expensive) gamble on a platform of which I knew nothing about and as a result, emerged with a totally new perspective on something that I had always shunned.
Over the past year, I've brought a handful of Mac related articles to AnandTech, covering everything from the mobile experience of Mac OS X to a look at the new Mac mini. Through it all, my Mac usage has proved itself to be more than just a phase. My Macs are now just as much a part of my daily routine as my PCs.
I'll run into people at trade shows and they are shocked by the fact that I'll actually be typing on a PowerBook (as if it is some sort of a surprise to actually use hardware that you recommend). A few weeks back, I went down to AMD to talk about dual core and I even was commended by a few employees for bringing a "neutral" laptop to AMD, instead of my normal Pentium M based notebook.
The reaction is always interesting, but to me, it's a non-issue; I'm not a switcher, but rather a dual user. As such, I think my perspective on things tends to be a little different than most. The Mac vs. PC debate almost always ends up being just as touchy of a subject as religion or politics, making it difficult to get a balanced perspective on anything relating to what's on the other side of the fence.
I can hardly consider myself an expert on Macs, but I do see myself as someone who is genuinely interested in them; which is why when Apple started talking about the features in Mac OS X Tiger, I found myself just as intrigued as I would be talking to any PC manufacturer about a new product. Apple's PR doesn't work the same way that PC manufacturers do; they are extremely secretive. NDAs and roadmaps just generally don't come from Apple, so I knew that if I wanted to get early experience with Tiger, I would have to go around Apple PR.
Luckily, early on in Tiger's development, Apple created a Tiger Early Start program for developers through their Apple Developer Connection (ADC) website. The Early Start program was designed for developers to get access to Tiger and to be able to develop for all of its new technologies. For me, it was a way to get access to monthly builds of Tiger and gain a ton of experience with the OS over the past several months.
In order to get a good feel for the OS, I had to make sure that I had Tiger installed on a computer that I used regularly, but I didn't dare install a very beta OS on my main desktop. Instead, I made my PowerBook the Tiger test bed, since it is something that I use regularly, yet on which I do not store extremely important data (I always had a copy of everything on my desktop and on my file server). So, for the past several months, I used Tiger on my PowerBook, updating it whenever there was a new beta released. However, I did wait to finish this article until I had spent a good amount of time with the final build of Tiger, which begins shipping today (although, thankfully, some copies were shipped out earlier than expected). So, although a lot of the work that went into this article was done on beta copies of Tiger, the final article wasn't written until I'd used the final build of the OS.
As with previous versions of the Mac OS X, version 10.4 (Tiger) isn't a free upgrade; Tiger is priced at $129. As with most Apple products, there are some hefty savings to be had if you are a student/educator and are purchasing through Apple's online store or in an actual Apple store. If you are eligible for a student discount, Tiger's price tag drops down to just $69.
Tiger's student pricing was a trigger for me to talk about how much I do appreciate Apple's pricing on their software; while I agree that their higher end hardware is a bit steep, their software licenses are extremely reasonable. I didn't think twice about ordering the iWork suite as soon as it was launched because I knew that it had applications I wanted and I knew that the price would be reasonable. I can't say the same about successive iterations of Microsoft Office, for example (or even individual Office applications). Apple doesn't do much to combat piracy of their software, and part of the reason is that they don't have such a large user base where piracy is as big of an issue as it is in the Windows world. But, it is also worth noting that given the price of most Apple software (even their professional software is priced very reasonably), it isn't something that most users would balk at.
Given that Tiger is basically the price of a modest hardware upgrade, a lot of the OS must be evaluated on a value basis for upgraders. While my previous Mac articles have focused on the entire package of hardware and software, this one is definitely different as the evaluation is done from the standpoint of an OS X 10.3 (Panther) user. Obviously, all new Macs will come with Tiger, so the cost of the OS is already included in the total package price; but for everyone else who, like me, has purchased a relatively new Mac in recent history, there is a definite purchasing decision surrounding the move to Tiger.
How New is Tiger?Cost of entry aside, there are a number of feature and performance improvements in Tiger that are worthy of evaluation. Quantifying the "newness" of Tiger is difficult; Apple put together a list of over 200 new features that made it in to Tiger, but some of the list appears to be more of a way to increase "feature count" rather than listing truly individual features.
At the same time, there are a number of changes that have been made in Tiger that aren't feature-worthy, but are either positive bug fixes, or negative changes in the way that aspects of the OS work.
I've done my best to go through both the little things and the major changes in Tiger, but as is the case with all of these Mac articles, I always finish the article feeling like there's still a lot more to talk about. These Mac articles have become easier to write since the first nerve-racking one, but they continue to be uniquely difficult as a lot of it is just trying to convey feelings of an experience.
That being said, if you are new to the Mac platform or are interested in knowing how I ended up in a situation where I'd be interested in reviewing Apple's latest OS, I strongly suggest that you go back and read my first two Mac experience articles. For everyone else, let's get right to it.
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msva124 - Sunday, May 1, 2005 - link>"Oh we have to support this obscure motherboard as well as this..
Can you give an example?
downtowncb - Sunday, May 1, 2005 - linkI would say that Apple's software and hardware exist to further each other, not just the software selling the hardware.
Apple creates hardware, and then develops software to run on it.
Apple develops software, and then creates hardware to run it.
Software is easier to write, less buggy, and faster if you know exactly which hardware it runs on. No "Oh we have to support this obscure motherboard as well as this...," etc. In that way, the software is #1 and the hardware is simply built to support it. You can sell computers without software, but Apple probably wouldn't survive if everyone had to install Linux on their machines themselves in order to do anything.
IMHO, the hardware and software support each other.
michael2k - Sunday, May 1, 2005 - linkWaltC:
"While being winners in terms of Apple's short-term survival as company, Jobs' strategies have also resulted in Apple's reduction to merely a negligible status today in terms of computer market share percentages world wide. Indeed, look how much of Apple's present profit and revenue derives from the iPod, for instance, which is not a computer of any type. "
Um, you do know from 1985 until 1996 Steve Jobs had no presence at Apple? That he had his own companies, NeXT and Pixar to deal with? His strategies, if you want, were the following:
Release a simple, affordable, powerful, computer in 1984: Original Mac, which became a strong model of the computing industry for the next 21 years.
Release a powerful, modern, OS and computer in 1989: NeXTStep, which is now the foundation for Mac OS X and is now Tiger, and is AGAIN a strong model for the computer industry (Longhorn, Linux)
Create the world's most popular mp3 player, the iPod, in 2001: It's a computer in every sense of the word, with a display, input, storage, and output functionality. It's 'revolutionary' status is because it was the first, smallest, fastest, highest capacity (all at once) device, though there were smaller, with smaller capacities, or larger, with larger capacities, and none with faster upload or UI in 2001.
Again, as for why compare Longhorn to Tiger?
Because everything Longhorn WANTS to do, Tiger does.
Longhorn wants a DBFS, called WinFS, not due until next year. Tiger achieves 90% of that now, and by next year will be even better.
Longhorn wants better search, to be achieved with WinFS, not due until next year, when Tiger has Spotlight now.
Longhorn wants a 3d accelerated display layer, and is not due until next year. OS X has achieved that since 10.2 in 2002 (a small step with hardware accelerated compositing), now more fully implemented since 10.3 and 10.4 with 3d and 2d acceleration, and with even more to come by the time Tiger comes out.
Longhorn wants a 'modern' UI, which is not due until next year, where OS X has had it since 2001, with each year bringing out more usability and functionality to the UI (Dock, transparency, animation, Expose, Dashboard, etc).
Longhorn wants better security, again not due until next year, while OS X has it now, and since 2001
Longhorn wants a shell and CLI, again next year, while OS X has had it since 2001
You ask why we compare: I think it's stupid NOT to compare. Longhorn wants to be a 'next generation' OS, and it's prototype and model 'next generation' OS is available now, and has been for four years, in Mac OS X.
We're not the only ones comparing. As I said before, Allchin of Microsoft has made direct comparisons, to Microsoft's detriment.
WaltC - Sunday, May 1, 2005 - link#25 "But what you forget is that every Mac that sells takes away a sale of a copy of Windows from MS."
Conversely, every Windows PC sold, along with SUN boxes and various Linux boxes of all types, etc., takes away a Mac sale from Apple...;) Heh...;) Sort of sobering to think about it like that, isn't it? Kind of clarifies Apple's <3% world-wide market share, doesn't it?
#25 "Apple will sell more that a million more computers this year than they sold last year. That's over a million fewer copies of Windows sold. As well as less copies of windows software by MS and others. It also means more copies of MS Office for the Mac sold."
Oddly enough, again, your vision is distinctly tunnel. I would hope it is not your contention that Apple alone of all the PC makers is growing...because by your reasoning every sale they make takes an equal bite out of the Apple, doesn't it?...;) Every sale they make is not an Apple sale, is it?
#25 "It's just dumb talking about "balls". This is a business. Maybe you like to play chicken, but companies that like to stay in business don't."
Heh...;) Tell that to AMD--or any number of successful companies today...;) In 1998 almost every "analyst" alive was writing off AMD and declaring that AMD was all but finished. Intel was considered an unbeatable juggernaut. The past six years at AMD have put the lie to that sentiment convincingly, I think...;)
Launching the K7 at AMD took every bit as much balls as it did brains (after all, what good is a great idea if you lack the courage to follow it through?). AMD proved the prevailing wisdom that said Intel was unassailable dead wrong, and is living long and propsering as a result. Launching the K7 and following through with everything since that AMD has done took guts and confidence out of the yin-yang...;)
So what's the only thing stopping Apple from actually competing directly with MS on the OS front? Why, it's nothing more than the firm belief that if it does it will fail. And there you have it completely...
WaltC - Sunday, May 1, 2005 - link#22 "The fact, "Jack", is that this is marketing and Apple does make nice hardware and a great OS for some people. And I do agree with some of your salient points. But for a company that "is not a direct competitor to MS", some of you guys sure seem to worry a lot about them."
So the fact that it is "marketing" is supposed to make up for the fact that Apple likes to fantasize that it's "ahead" by comparing its shipping OSes with MS's future, unreleased, unfinished, non-shipping OSes? That's bizarre, since Longhorn isn't close to shipping, let alone close to being finished, and so what's there to compare? Seems like shadow boxing to me, but, well, that's just Apple for you.
Yes, I worry--but probably not for the reasons you suspect. I worry that Apple seems congenitally unable to understand that *most people* see right through this kind of delusional "marketing" and get turned off to Apple in the process. But they don't call Jobs the King of the RDF for nothing, do they?...;) I suppose that if the RDF was ever dismantled and discarded in favor of something real that Apple's market share just might rise precipitously. I worry that Apple itself doesn't appear to understand this to any degree whatever.
I mean--Jobs has known for decades that unlike Apple, MS is not a hardware company. Yet he seems constantly confused about precisely *who* his actual competitors really are (he also occasionally seems to see clearly enough to spot Dell and other companies)--and the result is that mostly under Jobs tutelage in the last decade Apple itself has survived at the expense of approximately 80% of the market share in the worldwide consumer computer markets that it held in 1995 and earlier (down from 10% to about 2%.)
While being winners in terms of Apple's short-term survival as company, Jobs' strategies have also resulted in Apple's reduction to merely a negligible status today in terms of computer market share percentages world wide. Indeed, look how much of Apple's present profit and revenue derives from the iPod, for instance, which is not a computer of any type. Subtract Apple's iPod revenue and profit from Apple's bottom line and you'll see the true picture of Apple as a computer company today. Seems to me there's plenty to "worry" about in that sense. But, then, the RDF has never afflicted me so I guess I "think different" in that sense...;)
WaltC - Sunday, May 1, 2005 - link#23 "Uh... I should point out that the Apple Mac OS X pages don't have a single reference to Longhorn anywhere, AFAIK."
As well they shouldn't...;) You tell me, then--why are so many others comparing a shipping OS from Apple with an unfinished, unreleased, non-shipping OS from MS? Sure beats me...;)
chennhui - Sunday, May 1, 2005 - link#20 michael2k, It is true that gaming is not all, but a important part of computer experience. If you don't game, a P3 or G4 will probably does a good job overall.
Most applications available for Mac is available for PC. In fact, I feel MS Office is faster in PC compared to Mac (thank to Bill). So obvious Mac or PC is just a matter a taste (and may be you game or not).
Jbog - Sunday, May 1, 2005 - linkTo say every Mac and OS X sale takes away Windows sales, is like saying the number of illegal mp3 download equals to the lost revenue for record companies. One should consider the possibility that some buyers are not even interested in buying Windows machines and vice versa.
The Slashdot article thread was amusing. The legal dispute between Apple and TigerDirect reminds me of the time when Spike Lee sued Spike Channel. He argued that people would think of him when they see Spike Channel. I think they eventually settled out of court.
mircea - Sunday, May 1, 2005 - link#25 said:
"But what you forget is that every Mac that sells takes away a sale of a copy of Windows from MS. Apple will sell more that a million more computers this year than they sold last year. That's over a million fewer copies of Windows sold."
I think your judgement is a little off. Every Mac sold will mean a x86 based PC not sold. And on all these PC's it might be that if they were sold it would have been equiped with a Linux OS or something proprietary just as well as an Windows OS.
If there is to talk about comparison then it would be about how Apple, a hardware company is able to create an OS that can compete on functionality with a company that works almost exclusively with software. So if something is unjust on this comparison is that Microsoft is unable to stand out head and shoulders above a company that solds primarly hardware.
P.S. I never owned or currently own a Mac. Only used it at school on a music score editing software (Finale 2005) that I own on PC as well.
msva124 - Sunday, May 1, 2005 - link>But what you forget is that every Mac that sells takes away a sale of a copy of Windows from MS.
Perhaps there are dual users who purchase macs in addition to, rather than in place of, their windows computers.