Why Leopard Isn't Better than Vista

Apple's newest operating system is at best an evolution from predecessor Tiger. Some of the criticisms leveled at Windows Vista apply to Leopard. Seriously.

I bought my copy of Leopard on Saturday from the local Apple Store. Granted, I've only used the software for two days, but it has made a remarkably fast first impression. There is much to like about Leopard, but this cat scratches—oh, am I wounded.

What's bugging me about Leopard is what bugged me about Vista eight months ago:
* Feature or UI changes made without really good reasons
* Application compatibility problems
* Diminished performance compared to the predecessor operating system
* Irksome sense the software shipped before being really ready

I tested Leopard on a MacBook Pro that Apple provided for testing Aperture: 2.4GHz processor, 4GB of RAM, 256MB graphics accelerator and 160GB hard drive. I kept the notebook longer for Leopard testing. No doubt someone will ask for the loaner back as soon this post is passed around Cupertino.

My problems with Leopard started fairly quickly. Apple's pre-Leopard launch marketing exacerbated the problems, because it so increased expectations about those 300 new features. Apple's past practice of delivering more than promised gave some confidence about Leopard. Sure, there are some truly whiz-bang enhancements, with some of the seemingly smallest having big impact (example: users can from the main Spotlight search window type in definitions to find words in the dictionary). But compatibility and performance problems are causing me way too much trouble.

Some quick examples: * The new Apple Mail can no longer delete messages from my personal domain's IMAP server; they're piling up in the inbox
* Leopard is incompatible with my version of Cisco VPN. I did hunt down a compatible upgrade
* Safari crashes ... often enough
* Outlook Web mail works sometimes in Safari, but usually just hangs; it's A-OK in Firefox
* Internet connection is sluggish and routes slowly (connected through an Apple AirPort router); performance is speedy by comparison on Windows Vista or Tiger

Interface changes add unnecessary complexity to the operating system. Another added complexity: Like Microsoft, Apple has added new and annoying security prompts to the operating system. This morning, I downloaded an updated NewsFire RSS reader and got a warning popup asking if I really wanted to open this application—because it came from the Internet. Maybe Apple's user interface designers should watch their own TV commercials: "Security."

I'm going to give Leopard another day, but already I'm thinking about switching the MacBook Pro back to Tiger. Isn't that a story told and retold about Vista, where people went back to XP? It's a story other Leopard adopters may tell.

My point: Leopard is no better than Vista, in the sense that some—perhaps many—of the same migration complaints and problems apply. Windows' visibility and exponentially large number of applications amplify its complaints. There are more potential problems to have with Windows compared to Mac OS X. Besides, Microsoft is the successful company so many people love to hate. Criticism is easy, and it's frequent.

Leopard's problems would be a whole lot bigger if more businesses used Mac OS X. I'm simply one consumer user. By the way, I had no serious problems (other than Cisco VPN) migrating to Leopard's two predecessors, Panther and Tiger. My user experience, while anecdotal, shows the problems that can come as an operating system adds on features and its supporting ecosystem of software increases. Those 300 new features have their price in increased complexity and compatibility problems.

By the way, Cover Flow is the one Leopard feature I really like. Cover Flow lets me scan through documents without opening them, which is hugely convenient. But the one compelling feature won't be enough to stick with Leopard, particularly if personal and professional e-mail problems persist. By comparison, Vista's shakedown is largely over. I have little to complain about and lots more to like about Vista than I did in February.

source: microsoft-watch.com



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