Tiger coverage

Yesterday was one of the busiest days I’ve had for a while. After finishing off a feature for Macworld UK in the morning came the release of Mac OS X 10.4 AKA Tiger, and a story for eWeek on the industry reaction to Apple’s latest and (if the reaction is to be believed) greatest operating system.

And what reaction! Everyone I spoke to was enthusiastic about the release, for a variety of reasons. It’s a long time since I’ve heard developers so excited about a release – certainly, it’s a more exciting release for developers than Panther was. The points that seem to have got the most attention:

  • Spotlight. Everyone I spoke to had been working on something that takes advantage of this, or saw it as a major development. While obviously I have to maintain a degree of professional calm () I’m also excited about this, partly because I’ve seen the effect that Google Desktop has had on the way I’ve been able to work on my Tablet PC.
  • Automator. This is going to be huge. I was particularly pleased when Brent Simmons, developer of the excellent NetNewsWire RSS reader, mentioned that he’s looking forward to adding Automator support to NNW – the prospect of being able to take RSS via NNW and use it in other applications is mouth watering.
  • Core Data. Several developers mentioned this as a big, big thing. I don’t know enough about how Mac programming handles data structures at the moment to get excited about it myself, but when developers start consistently mentioning it as a big thing, I listen.
  • Tiger Server. There are some nice features in the server version, including a blogging system based on Blosxom and an iChat server based on Jabber. Extra points for using open source foundations, although I suspect that some of the customers for OS X Server would prefer Apple to fix some bugs!

Of course, there’s much more on the user side that will catch lots of attention, from Safari’s support for RSS through a new version of Mail to iChat, which is now miles ahead of MSN Messenger for both audio and video support. But it’s the underlying technologies that Apple has done a really great job on, and that will be most significant in the long term.

Naturally, it wouldn’t be Apple if there weren’t a couple of Snafu’s as well. The Up-To-Date program dates back only to 12th April, which is tight. It’s also counterproductive – people who have been burned by buying a Mac last week and having to shell out the full $129 for Tiger will be more likely to listen to the so-called “rumor sites” next time, and delay buying a new machine when an upgrade is close.

And although Apple has got voerall pricing in the UK right – £89, which isn’t too much of a rip off compared to the dollar price – it’s got the education pricing wrong. In the UK, Tiger is £59 for education customers, compared to $69 in the US.

But these are minor issues, and concern marketing rather than the software. Apple’s engineers should get a big bonus for shipping, because they’ve managed to produce an OS update that actually looks worth the money – especially once developers start taking advantage of its features.

Incidentally, there’s a lot of good coverage around the web. Highlights are:

  • Fraser Spiers, the developer responsible for the excellent Flickr plug in for iPhoto, sums up his thoughts thus: “What delights me the most, though, is that the usability ethos that’s always been part of the Mac UI also extends to the developer-level stuff, even to the API design.”
  • Joe Wilcox, Jupiter analyst, on Tiger and Longhorn: “Tiger will feature metadata search capabilities as part of the file system. Microsoft touted such capabilities with WinFS, but that file system now won’t ship with Longhorn, if ever. Robust search is a potentially transforming technology that can change the metaphor for working with a computer. The archaic file folder metaphor is long past its prime. Do people think about where to file their memories in their brains? Robust search is much closer than file folders to how most people think. Apple can claim leadership, while Microsoft appears to fall behind.”
  • Russell Beattie on the sync stuff: “Everyone in the mobile world is waiting for the next version of iSync to see if it syncs with their new mobile phones like it should. Hopefully Nokia Series 60 phones are supported from the start. This will be great if I can easily sync my phone to the mac using SyncML, it’d be a huge step forward for that standard and for the Mac. From what I’ve heard this has been ready to go for a while, but needed the rest of Tiger to be ready first.”
  • Michael Gartenberg: “Tiger is a big deal and it just might be the the best OS on a PC I have ever seen for productivity use…There’s a real experiential difference here in what Apple’s offering and if you spend far too much time organizing your stuff or just can’t find it again, you need to take a close look at Tiger. What’s missing? not much for me. I’d like to see RSS persistent so I can read and search offline and I wouldn’t mind seeing MSFT add Spotlight for Entourage. Otherwise, for the moment, this OS is nirvana for productivity.”
  • Tim Bajarin sums the whole thing up nicely: “ Apple is light years ahead of Microsoft when it comes to developing PC operating systems.”
  • http://blogs.linux.ie/stuff Mark

    Minus ten billion cool points to your post Ian ;-P

    You use:

    Google Desktop Search. Which of all the search offerings (X1, Copernic, and MSN Desktop Search) is the worst.

    Then you quote Joe Wilcox *and* Russell Beattie, both of which have proven time and again to know as much about the Macintosh, and Apple, as a plucked chicken.

  • http://technovia.typepad.com Ian Betteridge

    Mark, have you *used* MSN Search on a machine that’s under a bazillion gigahertz? Google beats the pants out of it for not hogging system resources. And, of course, it indexes Thunderbird mail – which is what I often use.

    Joe covered Apple as a reporter for years in his CNet days, and knows plenty about the platform and about Apple. Russell’s got two Macs these days, and knows plenty about phones – which is why his perspective is interesting.

  • http://blogs.linux.ie/stuff/ Mark

    Yes I have, and it’s still not as processor munching as the vastly superior X1 is. Indeed it’s only marginally better than Google’s offering and both are terrible since they badly handle displaying the sheer volume of results a search can turn up.

    It’s the fact that Joe covered Apple while at CNet which is what destroys his credibility. His work was lacking then and he’s done nothing to lead me to suspect that it isn’t lacking now.

    Remember his “People don’t want DVD drives” spew back in 2000? Then there was the classic “Apple should be supplying CD-RW/DVD combo drives” even though it would significantly up the price of the iMac range he had already bashed as being over priced.

    Then there was his “Apple looking to charge OS X Server customers for updates Apple might never deliver” thingamebob, and the classic Apple to reveal a new device today which “won’t be a computer and will have Wireless networking”, only to come back a day later and claim that he was right, even though it was a PowerBook update which the company announced.

    As for Russell time and again his entries on Apple appear to be shaped by the fact that the company should be doing something to solve a problem he’s having. For example, when he broke the DMCA by ripping a DVD movie to his phone, and complained about how hard it was and how Apple should do something to make it easier. The fact that it would be illegal and land the company in court was met with the response that “Apple didn’t care too much about piracy when it came to selling iPods”, which showed me that he went right off the deep end as when I last checked ripping CDs for personal use *isn’t* illegal.

    Yes he’s up on the phone market, but that doesn’t mean he knows a thing about anything else.

    Btw: where’s your Rob Enderle quote, you could have gone for the half dozen. :-P

    (And will you stop feeding Matt “The Tablet” Rothenberg, I know people who’ve entered college and walked out as brain surgeons in the time he’s been flapping his arms about mystical magical Mac Tablet’s from Mars)

  • http://www.blindmindseye.com/2005/04/15/will-longhorn-be-worth-it/ Blind Mind’s Eye

    Will Longhorn be worth it?

    Besides some cosmetic improvements and support for technologies like IPv6, there doesn’t appear to be much of a reason for the average user to really care about Longhorn. One of the interesting this about the Longhorn versus MacOS X 10.4 issue is that …