Since my Cube could not run Leopard, and I did not have any other Macs, I was unable to delve into Leopard right away. Apple NL was kind enough to fix this problem for us, by generously loaning me a brand new MacBook with Leopard installed so I could review it for OSNews. Read on for the findings.
Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard is the Mac OS’ 66th release (not counting the 10.x.x releases), dating back to 1984, making it one of the longest running lineage of operating systems available. Obviously, the Mac OS has seen a massive shift between Mac OS 9.2.2 and Mac OS 10.0, but the lineage remains, and is clearly visible. Despite the massive changes over the past 23 years, the visual similarities between the software on the first Mac and this Leopard release are amusing to see. Apple really stuck to their original design. Commendable.
Still, Leopard is probably the biggest visual shift in the history of Mac OS X. They changed the dock massively, the menubar, the finder, the overall theme, the icons, and so on. In this review, I will start by detailing the visual changes, after which I will delve into the various new and updated applications and features, a few words on the MacBook, followed by a conclusion. Seeing I am not a programmer, I will not go into the various new developer features. For more information on those, I redirect you to John Siracusa’s outstanding review of Leopard over at Ars.
Seeing this was a brand new MacBook, I did not have to perform an installation or upgrade. After the initial ‘new-Mac-setup’, and the update to 10.5.1, I was ready to go. I asked Apple to loan me a fairly basic MacBook, as this basic configuration is most likely the most popular.
- 2.2Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo
- 1GB DDR2 RAM
- 120GB harddrive
- Intel GMA X3100 with 144MB of shared memory
Leopard has seen a major overhaul of its graphical appearance. If there is one part of Leopard that received criticism even months before its targeted release date, looks is the one. Many people wondered if the changes made actually had a point, if they contributed to better usability or a better user experience, or if they were just a sort of knee-jerk response to Windows Vista’s Aero. I was one of the people who posed a lot of question marks behind all the changes, but I always had, in the back of my mind, the idea that you cannot judge a user interface based on its screenshots. You actually have to use it. In other words, my complaints were based on screenshots, and not on actual usage – which kind of made my complaints rather irrelevant.
Before I detail the changes, I can say that they are not nearly as bad as some people (including myself) have made them out to be. It takes a little bit of getting used to, and yes, their contributions to a better user experience are non-existent, but they do not make it any worse either. This is the central theme when it comes to Leopard’s GUI changes.
What I initially disliked the most was the new dock. Instead of it being a sort of pinboard, that works just fine for every dock out there, it is now a sort of pseudo-3D-but-not-isometric-either plank, with a reflecting mirror-like surface. After a few weeks of usage, though, you kind of just get used to it, and it does not seem to bother me at all – despite a number of annoyances that I will detail here. As said, it does not add anything either, and because of that, you might wonder “why change it in the first place?” This is the question that keeps on wandering through my mind when using the dock.
Sadly, though, the new look has some weirdness too. First of all, what kind of perspective is the dock using? It is not 3D, it is not isometric, what the heck is it? Even though you get used to it, it is still a very unnatural thing to look at. Secondly, the icons in Leopard’s dock are a bit odd. Especially annoying is the dynamically generated shadow atop the icons; on what surface are those shadows falling? They sure do not fall on the desktop! Consequently, it seems as if each icon has a little black cloud hovering on top of it, which only adds to the weird feeling of the new dock. Another irritating niggle is that the dock labels can be very hard to read on some backgrounds (esp. backgrounds with text).
A special note has to be made about the new dock indicators. They used to be clear but unobtrusive black triangles. They worked, they got out of your way, and looked fine. They have been replaced by weird looking blue-ish white lights, whose visibility depends on your choice of desktop background. Not very optimal.
The dock looked fine the way it was, it worked fine the way it was (save for the common problems with the dock paradigm). There was little need for change, and as such, it really does kind of feel as if Apple needed a way to tell its users: look, we changed some stuff around, Leopard is all new! You know, newer is better, different is better, that kind of thing. However, the dock is such a central element to the Mac OS X user experience, and as such, you should not mess with it too much. Apple had a serious opportunity to truly fix some of the problems associated with the dock paradigm, but they blew it. They did not make it any better, but they did not make it any worse either.
Apple also changed the menubar. A lot can be said about the merits and problems of the global menubar (I like it) – it makes sense because of Fitts’ Law, it is cleaner, it sucks for multiple desktops, and so on and so forth. Apple changed little about the menubar, except for that one tiny bit about making it slightly transparent. It is not that bad at all, but again, it is not anything useful either. It does not improve the user experience or usability in any way. It will not kill you, but it will not make you dinner either. This is another case where Apple could have done something really substantial – like fixing the odd behaviour of the global menubar on multiple screen setups – but again, Apple blew it.
Apple also – finally! Sanity! Praise Jobs! – decided to consolidate the ten million billion different themes available in Tiger into one. Sure, they chose the one I personally find the least attractive of them all (the ‘plastic’ look), but I am already thrilled they decided to standardise in the first place. Sure, the standardisation process is long from over (they still mingle those pill toolbar buttons with normal toolbar buttons, iTunes still sports its own widgets, among other things), but it is a huge step forward. The plastic theme itself has been changed here and there too, and I could not help but notice it being influenced by… Platinum from OS9 – which is a good thing, as I love the OS9 artwork. A related change is the easier identification of the active window, even though I personally never had a problem with that in OS X.
The icon set in Leopard has also been changed massively, and sadly, it is not for the better. The program and file icons have all been reworked and look a little bit different (and better), but where Apple really went all-out is the folder icons. And they messed it up badly. The general-purpose folder icons look just fine, that is not where the problem lies; the problem lies in the special folder icons, like ~/Pictures, /Applications, ~/Documents, and so on. Instead of being clearly distinguishable, they now all look alike, and that is such a tremendous error I am not really sure how Apple gave this the green light. It is a major step backwards from the previous icon set, and I’m also not sure how Apple is going to fix this issue. Especially when you place stacks (more on that later) on your dock for easy access to your Documents/Pictures/Applications/etc. folders, you will have to consciously look at the icons in order to differentiate them. A fairly major usability error.
All in all, it is difficult to escape the feeling that Apple made changes to Mac OS X’s look just for the sake of making changes to the look. The changes were surely not dictated by an objective of improving usability. Do not get me wrong, the changes will not really degrade the user experience that much either, but one has to wonder: why change something just for the sake of changing it? Especially seeing they could have been fixing so many substantial things, things that users have been asking for for years?
The next area where Apple claims to have made major improvements is the Finder. The Finder has always been a problem child in Mac OS X, and it has been criticised heavily for its inconsistent and downright aggravating behaviour – both by me, as well as more eloquently by Siracusa at Ars Technica. The major problem for me, personally, was the apparent split personality within the Finder: it tried to be a navigational as well as a spatial file manager at the same time, even though these concepts are fairly mutually exclusive – consequently, the Finder did not pass the test in either paradigm.
The biggest problem with this split personality lay not in the fact that the Finder could switch between the two; the problem lay in the fact that the Finder was actually both at the same time. You could press the little dash button to change between the two paradigms, but especially the spatial bit just did not work very well. As I noted in my little rant on the Finder:
“The spatial version of Finder is a bad implementation of the concept as well; for instance, open directories are not marked as such, which is a very important aspect of the spatial metaphor.
But wait! That’s not all! The spatial metaphor is only retained when you start navigating the filesystem from the exact same window you toggled the dash widget on! When you toggle the widget in /usr, destroy that window, and then start navigating in /bin, you get back to the navigational Finder; while when you start browsing in /usr again, you are back in spatial mode! Insanity!”
These were not the only problems. Another irritation is that the Finder litters the filesystem with binary
.DS_Store files, in which things like window position and size are stored. You are forgiven for never having seen these files – you will notice them when moving data between Macs and other operating systems – directories coming from a Mac may each contain such a
.DS_Store file. Apart from all these problems, the Finder also had major, well, speed issues: the spinning beachball has been a common sight while using the Finder to navigate through network shares.
Apart from the performance issues, none of these problems have been addressed in Leopard. In addition, the new Finder even creates a few new problems.
Performance-wise, as many other reviewers have noticed, the new Finder is a definite step up from the previous Mac OS X releases. I regularly move files between my standard desktop box and my Mac, and I have yet to encounter a spinning beachball while doing so. This will please many of you Mac users out there; I am fairly sure that the performance complaints weigh heavier than the behaviour complaints to most of you.
As said, the behaviour issues have not been fixed. The Finder still suffers from a severe case of split personality disorder (no, not schizophrenia, that is something completely different), and few steps have been undertaken to fix this problem. I second many others that have been saying this for years: split the Finder into the two paradigms, and allow users to select which mode they prefer, and make the Finder stick to that choice. The default should be browser mode, as that is what users have come to expect in this day and age.
Still, Apple has not exactly been standing still either. The Finder’s interface has been renewed, bringing in some major iTunes-esque features such as the new sidebar and Cover Flow. The new side bar is a tad bit annoying. In previous versions of the Finder, you could adjust the size of the items in the side bar easily; you could make them smaller, bigger, you name it. I preferred them bigger, because I put links in there to my most used folders, to be able to drag and drop stuff into them very easily. The new sidebar only allows for the items to be really, really tiny, making it a lot more difficult to drop files and folder into the items of the sidebar. The good thing about the new sidebar is that the layout has been improved, and you can store Spotlight searches in the sidebar, a welcome addition.
Initially, I had a hard time seeing a use for Cover Flow other than as a show-off gimmick in Apple Stores and retailers, much like the magnification of dock items. In all honesty, that view has not changed much. I do not think I have ever used Cover Flow in a substantial way – except in combination with the Finder’s best new feature: Quick Look.
Quick Look is amazing. With a simple press of the spacebar, any selected file will be previewed in a slick black overlay window. It works with documents, photos, images, audio files, movies, you name it. You can even use Quick Look in Time Machine mode (more on that later), and you can find Quick Look all over the system. Received an email with an attachment? Select the attachment, hit the spacebar, and see a preview before you ever have to save and/or open it.
Quick Look is one of those typical Apple things: sure, it has been done by other operating systems, but Apple has done it well, in a way that is both unobtrusive as well as easily accessible. A definite thumbs up to Apple, and I would love to see this feature making its way to other desktop environments.
Quick Look has a flaw though – a flaw that is actually caused by the Finder (no surprise there). Let me explain – say you are in icon view, the view I use in my pictures and documents folders, since it allows you to see previews, and still retain good overview thanks to the Finder’s new ability to resize the grid (you can reduce the spacing between icons). Now, the problem with this view is that the arrow keys work in a fairly weird way. Where in other operating systems you can use the left/right keys to browse through the contents completely (as in, you automatically jump to the next/previous row when you reach the last column of a row by pressing left or right), this does not happen in the Finder.
Now, I had the intention to use Quick Look to quickly show pictures to my friends (I find iPhoto overkill for just showing photos), or for simply personal viewing. However, because of the above behaviour in the Finder, you cannot easily browse through a folder’s contents with the Quick Look pane open. If you reach the end of a row, you need to press down to move to the next one. This does not only break the ordering of your files – since the Quick Look pane generally covers the directory’s contents, you cannot actually see the files underneath, making it impossible to navigate through your files. This is a really annoying problem, and it basically means that you cannot use Quick Look to browse through large sets of files while in icon mode.
That is where the Cover Flow view comes into play: in this view, you can easily browse through a folder’s content with the arrow keys. So, in combination with Quick Look, Cover Flow makes sense to me. Still, I should not have to resort to changing view modes just for using Quick Look properly – especially taking the Finder’s erratic behaviour with retaining view modes into account.
Quick Look has an extensible plug-in interface, allowing programmers to write their own filters for Quick Look, so support for file formats can be added later. This flexibility was demonstrated recently when someone came up with a Quick Look plugin for zipped files.
Stacks, Spaces, and Spotlight
Which, quite illogically (don’t ask), brings me to stacks. Stacks are links on the dock to folders that allow you to view said directories’ contents in two views: a fan or a grid.
I find stacks to be a bit of a letdown, in their current form. While the idea shows a lot of potential, Apple’s implementation leaves a few things to be desired. First of all, the stacks’ icons default to the very first item in the directory the stack represents. This means that in for instance the download stack, the icon is ever changing, seriously hurting the ability to easily recognise the download stack icon on the dock. If we were to look at a stack of the Applications folder, you would always be looking at the Address Book icon. This issue is fixed by these overlays, but for me, this solution did not work. That is most likely a flaw on my end, as it works fine for just about everybody else out there.
The second problem is a performance issue. The exploding animation that precedes the grid view drops frames on the brand new MacBook Apple loaned to me when the stack is large (say, the Applications folder, or my Pictures folder which has 38 folders), and that is really annoying. There are other issues, like not being able to pull up a context menu on items within a stack. These are all issues that can easily be fixed in updates, but for now, I do not find stacks to be particularly useful just yet.
Apple also (finally) implemented virtual desktops, known as Spaces, in Leopard. Many people even remotely familiar with the UNIX/Linux or BeOS worlds will welcome this addition to the Mac OS, especially seeing Apple did it in quite the slick manner – yes, another example of taking an existing concept, and making it easy to use. It is not a revolutionary new feature, but its implementation is rock solid.
You can easily bind applications to a virtual desktop, something I could never seem to get right on Compiz. You can also easily add virtual workspaces by simply adding rows and columns, allowing you to create up to 16 virtual desktops. Additionally, you can drop into a bird’s eye view of all your virtual desktops (similar to the ‘Expo’ plugin in Compiz Fusion), where you can drag windows around, and even drag entire desktops around. The bird’s eye view looks a tad bit odd with a multiple screen setup, but nothing serious. There is one tiny other problem, that most likely only goes for Compiz users: there is no shortcut for moving a single window across virtual desktops; you must use the bird’s eye view for that.
Spotlight has also seen some major improvements. First of all, it has gotten so much faster. I already used Spotlight as an application launcher, and the performance improvements make this specific use of Spotlight so much better. Additionally, you can now easily ‘stack’ search criteria on top of one another within a Finder window – I felt all warm and fuzzy inside because it reminded me of (the much more limited) BFS queries. Great stuff. You can now also use Spotlight to search the contents of other Macs on your network, a much requested feature ever since the introduction of Spotlight.
Personally, I still find Spotlight to be the best implementation of system wide search. It is fast, easily accessible (cmd+space for the win!), and quite multifunctional. Compare this to the implementation in for instance Windows Vista, which, somehow, just does not seem to work just as you would expect.
Coming to a conclusion, I can say that the new features and performance improvements to the Finder and Spotlight are really worth it. Quick Look is a great feature, the more robust Finder will please many, and Spaces is an excellent implementation of the virtual desktops concept. Stacks have potential, but for now, the implementation leaves a few things to be desired. Sadly, though, Apple did not take full advantage of the Finder and menubar overhaul by not fixing many of the long-standing issues.
Probably the biggest new feature of Leopard is its new backup solution, Time Machine. Apple’s website says that “Time Machine is the breakthrough automatic backup that’s built right into Mac OS X. It keeps an up-to-date copy of everything on your Mac – digital photos, music, movies, TV shows, and documents. Now, if you ever have the need, you can easily go back in time to recover anything.”
First of all, it is dead-easy to set up. Plug in your external drive, and your Mac will ask you if you want to use the drive as a backup disk for Time Machine. Confirm the dialog, and System Preferences will pop up, warning you that the disk first needs to be erased before it can be used by Time Machine. Since I hooked up a brand-new LaCie 500GB external disk, I had no worries about that one. After erasing the disk, Time Machine will start with the initial back up, which logically takes quite a while to complete (as it backs up your entire Mac).
Time Machine will make backups every hour, but since the system works incrementally (using UNIX-style hard links to files and directories), it only writes those files to the backup disk that have been altered since the last backup. It will keep hourly backups of the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups until you run out of disk space. When you do, Time Machine will alert you that it is going to delete old backups, so you will not be surprised when old backups suddenly start disappearing.
Time Machine’s interface is where it gets quite interesting. When browsing a folder, you can press the Time Machine icon on the dock, and the desktop and all other windows will slide out of view, to reveal a view on a galaxy filled with stars, stars that are passing you buy in a science-fiction-y kind of way. In the middle, Finder windows are set up like a set of domino pieces, with the first window being ‘now’, and the others being earlier incarnations of the folder in question. At the bottom of the screen are 3D controls that allow you to go back in time, restore files or folders, or cancel the operation. The interface is pretty much self explanatory, albeit a tad bit ‘too much bling’ for me. I do understand Apple’s intentions though: backing up is boring, and they needed to make it sassy. And they surely succeeded at that one.
Time Machine has more tricks up its sleeve, though. Apart from the ability to restore individual files and folders in a versioning-kind-of-way in the Finder, you can also use your Time Machine back ups to restore your computer after a serious crash or hard drive failure. Additionally, Time Machine works in other applications than the Finder too, such as iPhoto or Mail.app. A problem with this is that it is not exactly clear which applications support Time Machine, and which do not. If you click the Time Machine button while using an application that does not support it, Time Machine will show you the desktop folder.
A problem I personally foresaw was how Time Machine would deal with laptop computers, Apple’s strongest market. Laptops generally do not have external drives attached to them all day long like desktops and workstations do, and that might pose problems. Luckily, Apple’s engineers are actually quite the clever blokes, and they fixed this potential problem by allowing Time Machine to store any changes made in an external drive-less state locally, syncing them with the Time Machine disk as soon as it gets connected again.
I am impressed with Time Machine. It is the cleanest, easiest, prettiest, and yes, funniest back up solution I have ever laid my hands upon. My personal back up habits were a tad bit weird: I have multiple machines running in my house, and I simply synchronized my important documents and photos on all of those machines (manually!); if one installation died on me, I could simply re-install, and copy things over from another machine. Tedious, but it worked. Time Machine is a million times easier, and I can surely see myself relying on this method instead of my OCD-inspired manual synchronisation. A definite thumbs up to Apple and Leopard.
Safari, Mail.app, and iChat
As usual, Apple also updated most of the applications that come with Mac OS X. First off, Safari has been bumped to version 3, and comes with some interesting additions. Just like Firefox has had for ages, Safari now has an inline ‘find-as-you-type’ search bar. A welcome addition, as the search dialog in Safari 2 started to feel fairly archaic. Safari 3 also includes inline .pdf controls, which solves the problem in Safari 2 where .pdf files were rendered a tad bit too small for my comfort.
I am no fan of tabbed browsing (ok, I hate it), but I would still like to mention that Apple has implemented dragging tabs, and the possibility to drag a tab out of its parent window, creating its own window. You can also easily create Dashboard widgets now by simply selecting a piece of a webpage which will be turned into a live widget. My most beloved feature in Safari 3, however, is the fact that you can tell Safari to re-open the last closed window – or all the windows in case you shut Safari down. This is a great little tool, and a small step towards my ideal of a system-wide undo. Sadly, the tool has no shortcut key assigned to it (it is in the History menu).
Safari has one big problem though: it is unstable. I am used to Safari being an application that I could run without ever having to worry about it crashing or hanging up on me – apart from badly designed websites with lots of Flash and Java stuff that would bring the poor thing to a crawl. In Safari 3, however, even the simplest of websites can lock Safari up completely, with the infamous spinning beachball out in full force. It happens once about every two to three days, and I noticed in the Resource Monitor that during such a hang, Safari would eat up 16777000 TB (tera bytes!) of shared memory (see the screenshot). Something tells me that cannot be right.
Mail.app has also seen numerous improvements. Sadly, it still uses the odd-looking pill buttons, but to compensate, there is now a nice and long-overdue activity section placed conveniently in the Mail.app main window. Additionally, you can now create and manage notes and to-dos in Mail.app, which are accessible system-wide. You can also convert emails directly into notes or to-dos. I can sure see how that would eliminate the need for emails to yourself, something I see people do quite regularly.
A more debatable feature is the new stationery element of Mail.app – more commonly known among us geeks and nerds as annoying html email. I have an absolute distaste for html-based email, whether Apple calls it stationery or not. Yes, it looks ‘Applelicious’, is easy to use in an iWork kind-of-way, and yes, I can see the usefulness of the feature for people who want to make birthday invitations for their children – but still, I cannot get over the fact that Apple just reintroduced html-based email and even put the spotlight on it. As a geek, I find that all email ought to be text based, period.
iChat has also been significantly overhauled. Apple has done some amazing stuff with iChat, I simply have no other word for it. Firstly, you can play around with Photo Booth effects when you are videoconferencing. Not particularly useful, but definitely a fun thing to do with your friends when you are bored. It also includes a backdrop feature, a feature also seen in the new Photo Booth. It will ask you to step out of your camera’s view, after which you can step back in and it will know where to draw the backdrop. This can be a bit problematic on a laptop, though, when you use it on the couch. Nice playthings.
The star of the iChat show, however, is iChat Theatre. With iChat Theatre, you can show nearly any file to your friends in a videochat; it will even play music, slideshows, you name it (if it does Quick Look, it will do iChat Theatre). Ever seen a keynote by Steve Jobs? You can now do all that in iChat yourself. You can also do screen sharing, and pass on control of your Mac to your friends, so they can help you in troubleshooting sessions. You can easily record all these iChat sessions in ACC or MPEG4, but only with full consent from the people in the chat.
For the rest, just about any application or utility in Leopard has been under the knife. iCal’s interface has been reworked, Preview has finally gotten the ability to resize/crop images, and to order and merge .pdf documents. As I already mentioned, Photo Booth has gotten the backdrops feature, while also receiving some new effects and the ability to record video. Front Row has a completely new interface, similar to that of the Apple TV. It is still amazingly easy to use, and actually looks a little bit better than previous incarnations, if you ask me.
A few notes on the MacBook
Since Apple loaned me not only a copy of Leopard, but also the MacBook to actually run it on, I want to make a few notes on the MacBook too. I have always been a fan of Apple’s notebook offerings; as far as I am concerned, there is still nothing on the market today that can beat the lower-end iBook/MacBook in terms of features, looks, and price.
The new MacBook is no exception. The build quality feels a lot better than on my G4 iBook (which was a tad bit flimsy), and the various innovative (yes, they are innovative) features such as the magnetic screen lid and the MagSafe power cord really add to a high-end feeling, even though this is actually the lower-end Apple notebook offering. The screen is also quite slick and bright, and the iSight works fine.
There are a few problems too, of course. I know I will get flamed for this, but Apple, please include a two button trackpad in your notebooks. I know it is a touchy subject, but now that we have the Mighty Mouse, it only makes sense to include multiple buttons on notebooks too. Additionally, the package does not include a mini DVI -> VGA/DVI connector. I had to go to the Apple retailer and buy one myself for 20 EUR. My iBook G4 did come with an ADC -> VGA connector.
All in all, for 1099 USD or 1049 EUR, the MacBook is a lot of bang for your buck, and there is little in the form of competition for it. If you are in the market for a small but full-featured laptop, the MacBook is actually the only sane choice.
When I first entered the world of Mac OS X, during the Panther (10.3) era, on a G4 iMac, I was blown away. I came from a BeOS, Windows, and Linux world, and back then, I had the feeling that OS X truly was the end-all-be-all of operating systems. I could not help but think, if people can get this, than why on earth are they still chugging along on their Windows and Linux boxes? What is wrong with these people?
Of course, it did not take me long to realise that the Mac OS was far from the end-all-be-all operating system I thought it to be during the first few days of using it. It had its fair share of flaws, limitations, and oddities that made me understand that OS X was ‘just like everybody else’; it is good at some things, it sucks at a whole lot of other things.
Over the years, the Mac OS did improve significantly. Especially in the performance department, each successive release performed slightly better than its predecessor, which is a far cry from its competitors who have gotten significantly slower over the years. In addition, new OS X releases seemed to introduce new features that actually made sense, that actually tried to solve problems real users coped with. I still consider Expose to be the best graphical user interface idea this century. There are other features in a similar league, like Spotlight.
Panther was a huge improvement over Jaguar, and Tiger was a huge improvement over Panther; is Leopard a huge improvement over Tiger? It may not be a huge improvement like Panther and Tiger were, but it sure is an improvement – contrary to some of the reports we see online. Even though this review started a tad bit negative, you have to realise that the start of this review dealt mostly with the looks of the system, simply because Apple itself made quite a fuss of it. Looks, however, are quite subjective, and as such, it may very well be that other people totally dig the look of the dock or the new folder icons. And even if you do not, you can change these things (although it is still Apple we are talking about here, so they have not made it easy).
As for the real new features, Leopard does in fact carry a serious punch. Even though many would rate Time Machine as Leopard’s ‘killer feature’, I would rate Quick Look as the killer feature. To have instant access to any file without ever having to launch an application is a major step forward from the single tasking days of yore, where not the document was central, but the application. Quick Look does away with the application-centric paradigm even more, while being available system-wide, and this makes it my personal killer feature.
However, do not underestimate the power of Time Machine. I have often harped on it for being inflexible and too bling-blingy compared to Windows Vista’s Volume Shadow Copy, but the cold hard truth is that VSC is only available to those who have either Vista Ultimate or Business, and even those most likely have no idea how to set it up or use it properly. Time Machine may do less than VSC, but what it does do, is done so much easier, better, and prettier it is almost scary. Time Machine makes backing up easy and fun, and that is a major achievement.
The new iChat deserves a special note. The sad thing about iChat is that it is fairly useless in my country, since we all use MSN Messenger, and nobody uses AIM (and Macs are not exactly that widespread yet either, even though it is getting better and better), but with a few test chats with my OSNews colleague Adam, the power of the new features just left me flabbergasted. Being able to watch presentations, pictures, and videos together in such a slick fashion, despite the Atlantic Ocean being in between us was just awesome.
Leopard is a great release, despite its bugs and annoyances. It certainly is not as big an improvement as Tiger or Panther, but definitely worth your money.
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