“Both John Siracusa at Ars Technica and Bruce Tognazzini have raised the same concerns, with Tog warning that Apple’s dismal OS X user interface was leading the company into a New-Coke style disaster. But if we can indulge you, this is a battle-tested road report on rubbing along with OS X. That’s eight months spent on our own personal kit, trying to justify the investment. And watching the gold CD-ROM cursor spinning, and spinning.” Read the rest of the story at TheRegister.
An Alternative View on MacOSX by TheRegister
Submitted by Hero 2002-01-03 macOS 29 Comments
Dang right. I can fully agree with their last sentence:
“In fact we have to conclude that with OS X, you’re buying Apple in spite of the user interface, not because of it.”
I think that he is drawing a much worse picture than is warented. yes there are some isues with the UI and such, but, all that is required is a few little UI tweaks that Apple can put in real quick.
I do hope that apple employs some sort of FS like BFS or perhaps gets a Database built in likr MS is going to do with Blackcomb (for some reason that name puts fear into me), though, MSs reasons for comingling a Database into Windows are more to destroy Oricle than to make windows so much better. it wil be realy cool to make some quick tables and queries on the fly though.
I think the most valid point the article brings up is that the dock is just plain lousy. Mac OS X has its other problems (mostly speed) but the dock is just a travesty. This article seems to focus on it quite heavily. The dock ruins an otherwise (since 10.1) pretty good OS. The good news is that the dock should be very easy to fix. Now, Apple, fix it!
OS X is sure to improve as it matures. I just hope Apple is listening.
I agree that the performance is not good. I was expecting that it would be much better than classic since its a modern OS but in fact, its just the opposite. Of all the issues with OS X, to me, this one is the most serious.
Regarding the dock, some people like it, others don’t. Well, since screens are getting larger, why not add a menu type bar at the bottom of the screen which shows open apps as little icons and you can just click on an icon to get to that app. There is a great shareware program called TaskMenuBar that puts icons of open apps in the top menu bar of classic which I use all the time. Since there would be space left in a lower menu type bar, you could also add other things in there. An alternative solution would be to double the size of the upper menu bar and leave the lower half of it for apps and the upper half for icons of open apps and other goodies (such as a stock ticker, net traffice indicators, etc.).
Okay, I’ll come out and say it. So far I like the OS X interface, and I was quite skeptical about it for a long time. It’s not perfect, and it gets a few things wrong that Mac OS 9 got right–but it’s far from the pit of stinking doom that this author makes it out to be. Mac purists will jump off cliffs at the implied criticism when I make the observation that at its worst UI gaffes (most notably moving or copying files or folders between folders) it’s no worse than Windows, but, well, it’s true. Windows users have put up with that nonsense for so long they think it’s a feature rather than a flaw.
The point is, that it’s not difficult to fix, and I expect some of these fixes to be put in place as people continue screaming. I’d like to see something analagous to the BeOS “folder menus” you get by right-clicking. A tree view in file lists would do it, though, along with a control-click option to open a folder in a new window rather than the same one in the Finder view.
And beyond that–sorry, Mac OS 9 partisans, but neither the more refined UI nor the marginally increased responsiveness make up for the fact that OS 9’s underpinnings are crap, crap, crap! Not only do I get fewer application crashes on Windows 2000, crashes on the (OS 9) Mac nearly always took the OS with it. Sometimes it would hang waking up from sleep, or an application wouldn’t wake up and–you guessed it–the OS would hang. Between that and a few baffling hardware travesties (no backup battery, a case which, for all its cute factor, is too damn big to open on a coach-class airplane seat) I all but abandoned my iBook out of frustration.
Yes, I really am a usability fanatic–but “usability” isn’t all about the interface. Would it have been nice if Apple hadn’t blown some things in Aqua that they’d learned in the past? You betcha. Do I think that’s unrecoverable damage? No way. Given a choice between OS X’s beautiful if quirky UI, solid OS foundation and startlingly cool API, and OS 9’s more refined “Tog-compliant” UI and underpinnings held together with Scotch tape and spit, do I think OS X is the lesser of two evils? Absolutely.
WattsM: See, there’s the real problem. All we have is a lesser of two evils, when we could have had a perfect combination of an OS 9-alike UI with OS X’ underpinnings. Apple could have done better than what we have now, but they didn’t. That’s what is really bothering me.
I read the article and was able to agree and disagree with some of their points. There are some issues with Mac OS X that need to addressed and I even send Apple feedback every now and then to give my 2 cents.
Am I totally satisfied with Mac OS X when compared to Classic Mac OS? Not totally (at least not yet anyways). Apple did take away some of the ease of use and functionality from Mac OS with the release of X and I hope they realize this and implement what is missing. Overall I think Mac OS X is a step up from Classic Mac OS in many ways (Unix being one them)!
As for the ‘Dock’ I agree and I disagree with them… being a programmer and working with the likes of Solaris, I have always liked how powerful the ‘Work Space Manager’ (CDE) was and I think that the dock shares some of that power (though it could be more powerful). I agree with the users that want the option to disable the Dock in System Preferences if able… it should be an option I think. I use the ‘Dock’ efficiently and find it very useful (it’s better than the old App Switcher). I have actually thought about reverting back to Mac OS 9, but only to version 9.0.4 (9.1 and 9.2 is slower at startup and buggy in some areas). The reason I thought about this has nothing to do with Mac OS X not being worthy of an OS, other than I use Mac OS X at work now on my Ti-Book G4 and I miss the ole Classic Mac OS and could run it at home and have some fun again.
Last but not least…
When comparing Mac OS X to Windows XP for engineering genius, Mac OS X is a clear winner. I have had the pleasure on a number of occasions to play with and work with XP (some of my colleagues are using XP on their laptops). I have been reading on some of the aspects of XP’s core is of an improved NT kernel, I never thought NT was all that great, we have NT here at work, it’s not that great of an OS (but thats my opinion from user experience). I do like Window XP’s new ‘Luna’ GUI look, it is a nice compliment to Mac OS X’s Aqua GUI.
I would have to say that Mac OS/X is probably the best OS out there at the moment. What really turns my crank with it is that it basically uses the exact same principles as NeXT used for NeXTStep, way to go Steve Jobs! Real UNIX with a nice face. I might be wrong in saying this, but doesnt OS/X not even use X at all? That could be the single best move ever, if UNIX ever wants to get on the desktop it needs to jettison X, its not the right tool for the job.
Aqua doesn’t use xfree86, but you can install xfree86 alongside it if you wish. I have and it works just fine.
I know a lot of Mac users lament not having the OS 9 interface. I personally hated that interface. In fact, it is the reason more than anything else that I *hate* using Classic mode. The one thing from Classic that I wish I could do in Aqua is window shading a window. That is a good trick, and one I even like under Linux too. The rest of it looked old and tired. I really couldn’t stand using it. Luckily I haven’t had to run the classic environment or boot into classic since 10.1 was released.
User interfaces are all a matter of taste. It is like arguing whether a black Mercedes S-Class has better lines than a red BMW 7-series. Both are great cars, but it a matter of taste which you prefer. It’s just looks, which is why Steve Jobs should stop going after everyone trying to skin the OS. If it were *that* perfect no one will bother downloading skins to change it.
UI design is not about looks. Pretty or ugly is something is a matter of taste, but usability can be measured and partially calculated e.g. with Fitt’s law or GOMS.
Its still too sloooooowwwwwwwww……
If Apple would have bought BeOS it would have been a blazing fast OS with truly amazing mediacapabilities. And best of all in that case I would have bought a Mac. Now the best OS (BeOS) is dead and these ‘OLD’ (unix/windows-based OS) are still here to stay, how ironic and sad. I really hope the OpenBeOS project really takes off!
Well, this is still the first release of OS X, particularly the Quartz and Aqua components that differentiate it from either NextStep or MacOS. There probably aren’t many Apple users around now whose first exposure to Macs was at System 2.0; mine was. A lot of the things people lament about missing in OS 9 weren’t there in “OS 2″… or 3, 4, 5, or 6, and in some cases not in 7. Personally the things I miss the most are things from BeOS that weren’t there in any previous MacOS: multiple workspaces and the right-click folder menus.
And, one of the things that most profoundly annoyed me about MacOS 9 (I returned to it in 1999, after leaving circa System 7.x and spending years getting used to other windowing systems), was lack of interleaved windows between applications. If I had multiple windows from one application open and wanted to copy and paste something from another application, it was often a move-the-window puzzle: if the window from the second application was on top of one of the windows from the first, I couldn’t bring the other window from the first in front–I had to bring ALL the windows in front. And I couldn’t hide just one document window from an application: it was all or nothing. OS X fixes this. For me, that’s worth the price of spring-loaded and tabbed folders.
Aqua will keep getting better, and Quartz will keep being optimized. And, BeAdingo, I have to admit that I think OS X is developing into a killer media OS. We can complain about it being “old” all we want, but in the end all that matters is performance in applications. BeOS may have *potentially* been able to deliver something better than Final Cut Pro, but it didn’t. And the reason it didn’t is largely Be’s fault. Not Microsoft’s, not Apple’s, not Adamation’s, not Mediapede’s. Be’s. They sold the OS to developers as a great platform for high-end media work but didn’t deliver support for high-end peripherals and took ages to get the Media Kit fully functional (promised for R4, no codecs until R4.5, crucial timing elements broken until R5). Say what you will about Apple–they’re not making those mistakes.
If you really want to talk about sad and ironic: the original work on Final Cut Pro was done by fredlabs, the people who developed “Virtual Mac” for BeOS in its pre-Intel days but left the platform when nobody wanted to take the risk of marketing their software. (Insert your own sarcastic comment about how sorry they must have been to get out then.)
The Mac OS X UI — while by no means perfect — is actually very carefully thought out, and works extremely well, with an excellent logic behind all of its polished flourishes. Some more power-user features are needed (an smarter Dock, a SLF mechanicis,etc.) but what the Register writer is really complaining about here is responsiveness (and not UI).
That’s an irritating confusion. It’s basically a 1.1 release, folks. Give Apple a year to work out the kinks and whip it into shape.
The Mac OS X UI — while by no means perfect — is actually very carefully thought out, and works extremely well, with an excellent logic behind all of its polished flourishes. Some more power-user features are needed (an smarter Dock, a SLF mechanicis,etc.) but what the Register writer is really complaining about here is the speed of the UI — responsiveness (and not the UI design).
That’s an irritating confusion. It’s basically a 1.1 release, folks. Give Apple a year to work out the kinks and whip it into shape.
One cannont install apps as a basic user, one does not have the unix tools to set, change, add groups and permissions. I was very deceived when I finnally got my hands on it. I had hopes it would be the unix with a nice GUI but it turns out it behaves like one but you don’t get the tools to use it.
IMHO, the quote should have read:
“In fact we have to conclude that with OS 9, you’re buying Apple in spite of the user interface, not because of it.”
I HATE the classic Mas OS interface. Hate it, hate it, hate it. I never would have considered getting a Mac and switching from Windows/BeOS/Linux until Mac OS X arrived. Now, I’m using OS X on a PowerBook G4 exclusively, and loving every minute of it. The OS X interface fits me like a glove. It’s fast, intuitive, spatial, and logical. I so strongly disagree with people who think OS 9’s interface is great and OS X’s is awful that I feel physically ill when I hear of such opinions. I wish I could write a 100% polar-opposite article for The Register as a rebuttal to their nonsense. Hmm, maybe I’ll just do that.
One shouldn’t be able to install apps as a basic user–one should have to have the rights to do so. Any user can be given that privilege in Mac OS X. The “problem” is only that OS X is, in a basic sense, a port of NextStep, and NextStep didn’t do a lot of things in the traditional Unix way. You must learn how to use the NetInfo manager to make the changes that you make to /etc files on a traditional Unix system.
This does bring up one thing I’ll blame Apple for, although they’re certainly not alone in this fault: they need to ship their products with printed, detailed manuals, dammit. Make the OS friendly enough that people don’t need to read the full manual, keep giving them the 24-page booklet, but give users all the information they actually need to use the OS. (To be honest, Be’s user manuals weren’t much better; after being a nearly exclusive Be user from the first R3 release up until fall 2001, there were still Be-written command line tools and configuration file directives that remained mysteries.)
There use to be a time when both Mac fans and non-Macintosh users use to agree that the Macintosh had the best user interface. The UI use to have a natural feel to it. It use to work like the way people do, it use to fit like a glove, it used to be ergonomic etc…
Those days are gone for ever.
The least Apple could have done is offer the “Macintosh” UI in addition to the crappy UI they have today. I don’t just mean the looks of the “Macintosh” UI but the actual funtionality. That’s what makes it “Macintosh”, that’s why people love it!
If a Macintosh look-alike is good enough, then why not just use winblows?
I’m surprised that The Reg seems to think that OS 9 has a good interface. Sure, it *can* have one – but only after you get through disabling that *#$@#$ annoying control strip, taking all the crap off the desktop, setting your finder view mode to something more reasonable than “open a new window for every folder” (that worked great in ’91, but times have changed!), and, well, I still haven’t found a web browser that actually looks Platinum when run under Classic Mac OS.
That, and the total lack of decent multitasking makes it extremely annoying to do more than one thing at a time. OS 9 deserves serious dings for the way it handles multitasking (cooperative, please.)
Newer does not mean better, neither does candy coating
I think a person who has nerver used either interface would feel more confortable with “Macintosh” than “quaqua” much more quickly. It’s simply more consistent and less complex. It works like people do and gets the job done!
The mixing of the old and the new in OS X is an absolute disaster.
If Apple had continued UI research along the lines of the Coplan UI, they would have possibly integrated some of the cool UI features found in BeOS for example, they would not irritate and lose as many fans as they do now. At least offer both and let the user choose.
The “quaqua” UI is funtionally no better than Motif on any other Unix desktop. To make matters worse, it’s fat like a pig and slow like a turtle.
Okay this myth of Mac OS X being slow is just hogwash, okay it was slow with the original release and trust me I was complaining just like the rest of the Mac faithful and kept returning to Mac OS 9 with a mindset that Mac OS X was a waste of my time. Helk I even remembered when Mac OS X was first announced and seeing some screenshots and saying to myself that I would never go that route, but of course Steve Jobs said that ‘X’ was the future and the old Mac OS was going to be history in due time which I can admit was scary, really it was a huge gamble in my opinion! How do you make a whole user base switch to something almost overnight, my close friend and colleague that is also a Mac user refuses to upgrade to Mac OS X, so I do realize that some Mac users are not willing to move on up to ‘X’!
Now as for the performance and speed… am I saying Mac OS X is a very quick OS?… NO! But when compared to Solaris, Windows and Linux, it is pretty damn quick if not quicker… I work around all the above professionally (mainly Solaris, but) and to be honest out of all those above Windows is the slowest running on similar hardware as Linux… as for Solaris, it is running on our Ultra 10s/60s, though there is a version of Solaris that runs on PC, we don’t use it. The only real OS to gauge speed against is BeOS and there is nothing quicker, at least I haven’t seen one. I am very spoiled by BeOS’s power and speed, but BeOS is in limbo right now and hopefully will rear its ugly head once again to show the rest of the industry what a real OS can do!!!
At least OS X doesn’t CRASH like 9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 … Though possible, it’s not likely. And frankly the operating system needs to be seperated from the GUI. The only thing OS X needs are more GUI choices.
While we’re dreaming, how about a choice between Aqua, Classic, Gnome, and KDE? That should make at least some of us happy!
I think when people say that MacOS X is slow, they’re referring to the redrawing/resizing speed. For example, try resizing a browser window or a finder window with lots of text in it.
The resizing issue I can definitely agree with. I think that Opera’s Web Browser provides the best solution for this in being they only let the outline be resized and then the window acts on the new size, alot of software companies should follow that example, it is annoying watching the redraw trying to keep up with the mouse. But the redraw issue is a problem in almost all operating systems, even with BeOS… I use to drag a window across the screen quickly and see about 3 to 8 shadows lagging behind, but this is apparent to all OSes!
Believe it or not, there’s one objective way of measuring the quality of OS X.
It’s not like ‘It’s slow’, ‘It’s fast enough for me’, ‘I have to slow it down it’s so fast’ or ‘It’s ugly’, ‘I like it’ or ‘I spend hours in front of my mac just looking at the throbbing buttons’, no, it’s just one number that says it all.
Since the introduction of OS X apple’s unit sales fell by over 30%.
>>Since the introduction of OS X apple’s unit sales fell by over 30%.<<
It’s called a recession! The industry (including the one I work in) is hurting right now. Actually even with that 30% loss of sales Apple is actually the #1 computer company as far a profit margins go, with Dell at a very close 2nd as reported by Business Week! So even tough Apple would like the money to keep rolling in like a waterfall, they are still doing well compared to the rest of the industry!!
Yeah, sure, it’s the recesion, stupid. OS X is great, smashing, the best OS we ever had, but unfortunately it coincides with the recession.
Wake up. 30% means roughly one third. This is major. Maybe the recession added to it, but the reason for a decline this big has to be a bad product. And Apple isn’t a company like SGI that used to survive in their special small sector. Apple needs market share because they sell consumer products.
Apple had their chance. It took them more than 5 years of development (this to all the people saying it’s just version 1.2 now) of a stable MacOS, and in the end they scrapped everything they had and came up with UNIX + a freaky GUI.