Now regular readers are probably expecting me to tear into Leopard, uncover the faults and criticize the fact that it puts style before function. I’m not going to do that. In fact, I’ve very pleased with Leopard. In fact, I’m thrilled with it. I’m even prepared to go as far as to say that Leopard packs a lot more “Wow!” than Vista does.
Spaces is a real productivity booster, the Time Machine backup utility has no competition, and the overall snappiness and responsiveness of OS is a pleasure to experience (especially given that my Mac mini is the lowest-end Mac you can get). While there has to be a lot more to an operating system than the “Wow!” factor, it’s good to come across features and ideas that are new and refreshing. Leopard has this in spades.
And then there’s the interface. To me Leopard feels more polished and refined than Tiger was and the interface feels a lot less bleak. I’ve always felt that the grey look was dated and that it was time for it to go. Even without the 300+ new features, the interface refresh alone would make Leopard a compelling upgrade.
|Apple Mac Columns|
OK, so I’ve established that Leopard is a good OS, very good in fact. But let’s keep things real here. No matter how good Leopard is, there’s not a chance that this OS will make even the smallest dent in Microsoft sales. Some have suggested that Leopard will represent the beginning of the end for Microsoft. Some claim that Leopard will herald a huge wave of people migrating from Windows to Mac.
This, I’m afraid to say, is utter nonsense.
First off, there’s the fact that Windows is considered by many to be default. You buy a PC and it comes with Windows on it. For far too many people, this is the norm. Even dangling the temptation of free operating systems such as Ubuntu and PCLinuxOS doesn’t help.
Then there’s price. While it’s true that you get a fair amount of hardware for your money from Apple, if you’re buying on a budget then Apple is out of the question because there are much cheaper systems available.
Then there’s gaming. No matter how hard those cute Apple commercials try to bend reality and claim that a Windows-based PC is designed for the office while a Mac is designed for the home, this will be no more than marketing fluff until we start to see the same amount of shelf space devoted to Mac games as we see for the PC. See, when it comes to browsing the web, composing a few emails and writing out your shopping list, very little separates Windows, Mac and even Linux distros. However, when it comes to gaming, Windows is a clear winner.
Next page: And then there’s peripherals…
Not into games? Well, what about kitting out your PC out with peripherals? There’s all manner of treasures and trash for Windows-based PCs, from printers to USB missile launchers. If you’re into hooking up a multitude of gadgets and gear to your computer, taking the Apple route means having to live with less (which, from a stability and performance point of view, is probably not a bad thing).
|Apple Mac Columns|
What about Macs in the business environment? Is Leopard going to encourage businesses to throw out their boring beige PCs and replace them with Macs? Unlikely. It’s true that businesses are quite interested in Mac, and the MacBook and MacBook Pro systems have been a popular choice in some circles. Yet widespread adoption based on Leopard’s performance is unlikely because of price and issues relating to integrating Mac systems into a Windows ecosystem.
Another issue is Leopard’s focus. Businesses have been critical of Vista’s heavy emphasis on consumer computing, but Leopard is far further down the consumer road than Vista is. While I disagree with Microsoft’s decision to come out with as many different versions of Vista as it did, Leopard’s “one size fits all” is equally flawed.
I don’t want to leave you with the impression that leopard isn’t great, because it is, and I’ve no doubt that it will be Apple’s best selling OS to date. But it’s important to keep things in perspective. The idea that Leopard will see double digit growth in market share over the next couple of years — and that this will put Microsoft on the back foot — is baloney.