Apple has given Microsoft a lesson in software development with the launch of its new Leopard operating system which is faster, slicker and packed with a lot more practical features compared with the slow, underperforming Windows Vista operating system that is prone to crashing or locking-up systems.
Apple has also introduced some neat new mail features that make Outlook look like yesterday’s technology. An example is the tag associated with an address which when hit will open up Google maps.
In previewing this software the first impression that one forms is that the developers at Apple are far more in touch with the needs and habits of users.
Even simple tools such as calendar, currency converter and notes are handled better in the Apple OS environment than the Windows environment. With Vista the “Gadgets” have to be stacked in a frame on the desktop. In the Leopard environment they can be placed anywhere.
For the first time I believe that consumers will desert the Windows platform in their thousands for a Mac running Leopard. In the first instance it will be driven by the fact that the new Mac OS allows Windows Vista to be run natively. However once consumers start seeing and feeling the difference they will move over to a pure MAC OS.
The new Apple operating system puts Apple light years ahead of Microsoft, but it’s not revolutionary. What Apple has that Microsoft lacks is an understanding of consumers’ great software skills and a very rare understanding of technology design.
After seeing the new Leopard OS and playing with it one is left with a sickening feeling that the Vista I am currently using on my PC is old-hat, so much so that one is tempted to call it quits and move over to a Mac.
There are several reasons for this, including the security problems in the dominant Windows platform from Microsoft, spill over from Apple’s blistering success with its iPod music players; the fact that Macs can now run Windows programs; and Apple’s consistent ability to deliver stunning performing software and great design.
But another key factor has been the Mac operating system, called OS X, which came out in 2001. It has proved to be as powerful and versatile for mainstream consumers as Windows, yet easier to use and more secure. And Apple has upgraded OS X far more rapidly than Microsoft Inc. has upgraded Windows, bringing out major new releases roughly every 18 months, while Microsoft struggled for more than five years to produce the latest Windows iteration, Vista, which came out in January.
While the new Apple OS is impressive it is an evolutionary, not a revolutionary, release. I believe it builds on Apple’s quality advantage over Windows. In my view, Leopard is better and faster than Vista, with a set of new features that make Macs even easier to use.
Leopard will come preinstalled on all new Macs. It can also be purchased for $159 as an upgrade to existing Macs that, depending on configuration, can be as many as six years old. Unlike Vista, which is sold in four non-corporate upgrade versions ranging from a stripped-down “basic” edition to a deluxe “ultimate” edition, there’s only one version of Leopard. It includes all the features, from those aimed at novices to those aimed at power users.
For me, the marquee features in Leopard are a new function called Time Machine that automatically backs up your entire computer in the background; two new methods, called Cover Flow and Quick Look, for rapidly viewing the contents of files without opening any programs; and new techniques that allow you to access the files in, and to remotely control, other computers on your network or connected over the Internet with a few clicks and no technical expertise.