• The Tiger Report: A Memo to Readers Who Bought a New Mac on April 11th

    April 16th, 2005

    Dear Reader,

    I feel your pain. You are intrigued by the prospects of Tiger and would probably have purchased a copy anyway. But, rumors aside, you didn’t know when it would ship, so you went ahead and bought that new Mac. It doesn’t matter which model. I’m sure it’s working great, and that you’re pleased with your new computer.

    But you have to be upset about the way Apple handled the release date for Tiger. I mean, it’s not as if it didn’t know before April 12th when it was ready to ship. If you can believe the rumor sites, the Golden Master, the version that was released to manufacturing, was declared on March 31st. This makes sense from a logical standpoint, too, considering the shipping date and the time it takes to duplicate DVDs, package the product and get it into the stores on April 29th.

    In other words, Apple could have announced the shipping date on March 31st, and probably a few weeks earlier, assuming it knew development had reached the final stages.

    So why pick April 12th? Well, it’s true Apple is in the habit of announcing new products on a Tuesday. It’s also true that this particular date is just 24 hours before the latest quarterly financial results are being released, so it could combine to help boost the stock price. Ah, I see a pattern emerging. I also see another pattern, and that’s one of greed.

    Now for those who did buy a new Mac on April 12th or later, you can get the Tiger upgrade for just $9.95 direct from Apple. Well, at least that’s progress. In the past, the price was $19.95. I appreciate the generosity.

    But if you’re not one of the lucky ones, what then? Well, if you want to have a Tiger in your tank on April 29th, you can either buy a copy at a local store or order it direct from Apple. The price of admission is $129 plus sales tax. If you can control your needs and desires for a few days, you can take advantage of the special offers from such dealers as Amazon and Other World Computing, and pay less than $100.

    What to do?

    Well, unless you’re an early adopter, you may just want to sit back and let others test Tiger for you, just in case there are last minute bugs that didn’t get squashed in the rush to ship the product. And you can bet there will be problems; there are always problems with new operating systems. Do you recall when Panther shipped in October of 2003? Within days, the news came down that some FireWire drives would refuse to mount after Panther was installed. All right, part of the blame could be placed with the company that built the controller chips for those drives, Oxford Semiconductor, which did indeed release a firmware update to drive vendors to address the problem. It’s also true that Apple got a 10.3.1 update out real fast. But the folks who were bitten by that bug may not really care, especially if they lost a lot of mission critical data as a result.

    This isn’t to say that version 10.4.0 will have show stoppers of that magnitude. I’d like to think that Apple learned its lesson and was a lot more careful in getting Tiger ready for release. Since it’s arriving some 18 months after 10.3, there was no doubt sufficient time to let it simmer in the development labs before declaring it fit for sale.

    But why take chances? Your Mac isn’t going to stop working on April 29th. There’s really no harm in waiting a week or two, just to see whether any unexpected bugs have turned up. You’ll see the chatter on MacFixIt and other online watering holes within hours after Tiger goes on sale. Sure, some of the initial problem reports may be traced to specific installations and will not apply to anyone but the people writing those complaints. You may, though, begin to see a trend, especially if a lot of those early adopters report the same problem, over a wide variety of Mac systems.

    Let me assure you that if there are any serious problems, you’ll soon see a 10.4.1 or even a 10.4.2, so you may just want to sit back and wait for things to settle down. Panther is now at 10.3.8, and some folks still say it isn’t good enough, and there are rumors that still another Panther update is in the wings.

    Despite the cautions, I can’t blame you if you’re upset with Apple for announcing Tiger’s shipping date almost at the last minute. It didn’t have to be that way. In the end, though, I bet you’ll forgive Apple after the initial feelings of betrayal wear off. It’s not as if there’s a viable alternative. I mean, Microsoft is still a long ways off from getting it’s next OS upgrade out the door. In fact, you might just want to stick with Panther for now, and keep that money in the bank.

    Gene Steinberg

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