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  • The Tiger Report: The Last One?

    September 27th, 2006

    With so much attention devoted to Apple’s latest efforts, you can easily forget that there is actually another product that’s bundled with every new Mac, still available on the store shelves, which you may be taking for granted these days. That’s Tiger.

    Tiger? Well, yes. After all, Leopard is still just a dream and not a real product, and won’t be out until the spring of 2007. And that’s assuming that Apple has established a realistic schedule to get the thing done. Although they have been able to meet or exceed their deadlines in recent years, nothing is precise when it comes to software development. Microsoft might be an extreme case, of course, but that’s another story.

    When Tiger first came out in 2005, I felt it was unfinished, that it had been rushed to market with a few too many bugs. The most serious stuff had to do with networking, particularly connecting to private office networks. Here Apple’s built-in tools were broken, and third party stuff had to be updated for compatibility. There were other troubles too, which is why we’re at 10.4.7, with rumors of a 10.4.8 and even another one or two additional updates over the next few months.

    However, that didn’t stop me from recommending Tiger to most people, and I haven’t been second guessed very much. In fact, I really never had most of the problems people talked about, although I’m certain most of the complaints were valid. I work in a home office, so I don’t need the tools that left some of you irritated that Apple didn’t wait a few more months for Tiger to come out.

    What isn’t mentioned as often as it should is that there are, in fact, two distinct versions of Tiger. They look the same, they work the same, but they are quite different, with one compatible with a PowerPC Mac and the other designed for the Intel-based version. True they may now have synchronized development cycles, but you can’t get a single, Universal installer for both. Or at least not yet.

    That may not seem to be a huge issue, but it is a significant irritant in a company where both types of Macs are being used. You can’t, for example, create a unified installer disc or image for everyone, so you’re left with two versions, labeled PowerPC and Intel for clarity. Or you have another DVD to lose if you just file your installation media somewhere in case you need to reinstall something.

    On the positive side, Tiger remains the operating system to which you still compare Windows Vista. Both have fancy user interfaces, although you need some awfully powerful hardware for the latter to get the best, or at least most blatant, visual special efforts to appear.

    When Apple demonstrated the most obvious resemblances during the WWDC keynote in August, you had to wonder what Microsoft was thinking. After all the delays, and features being cast aside, the Vista interface designers gave you the impression that they developed a spreadsheet (Excel of course) with Tiger in Column A and Vista in Column B. Microsoft simply added a few things to make their stuff look sort of different, and made everything more complicated to create the illusion that you could do more. In fact, it just took longer to do the same thing.

    But, when you come down to it, the best computer operating system is one that should get out of the way, more or less, when you want to get some work done. It shouldn’t intrude, call attention to itself, or behave erratically when you are rushing headlong towards an important deadline.

    When it comes down to it, Tiger, while far from perfect, is really a superlative operating system. After all of Mac OS X’s growth pains, Apple is going to have to work awfully hard on Leopard to provide a follow-up that will truly make you want to upgrade without a second glance.



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    11 Responses to “The Tiger Report: The Last One?”

    1. Jack Beckman says:

      ” you can’t get a single, Universal installer for both. Or at least not yet.”

      You can if you buy Tiger Server.

    2. ” you can’t get a single, Universal installer for both. Or at least not yet.”

      You can if you buy Tiger Server.

      Point of order: The article is clearly about Tiger client 🙂

      Peace,
      Gene

    3. Verna Zing says:

      Vista Rocks. You’re just looking on the outside. There lots more under the hood!

    4. Dan Speck says:

      The artcle is about Vista versus OSX (as usual).

    5. Catherine Ku says:

      Universal Tiger? Why would you need it? Oh, I see, what you hope to do is to get a new machine with Universal Tiger DVD, then reuse the DVD in your older G4 or G5 machine. That’s dishonest.

    6. Garret says:

      Superior? You should try playing a game that supports surround sound and uses EAX technology. Can’t do that on OSX at all. Build .NET applications? Nope.

    7. Universal Tiger? Why would you need it? Oh, I see, what you hope to do is to get a new machine with Universal Tiger DVD, then reuse the DVD in your older G4 or G5 machine. That’s dishonest.

      Or the reason I posed, which is that your company wants to deploy the same operating system among all Macs, but can’t do so the way it is now. We assume, of course, that they have legal licenses for everything.

      Peace,
      Gene

    8. auramac says:

      One of the reasons I don’t Need Windows- an entirely different list from the one called “Why I Much Prefer a Mac”- is that I’ve got too many interests and things going on in my life- musician, artist, tech support specialist- to have the slightest interest in playing computer games as the clock keeps ticking away. Bang!- you’re dead. At least, not really alive. Oh, I like to veg, and rest, and play- but I’m too old and too young for the gaming. But we are digressing, aren’t we?……

    9. JB says:

      ” you can’t get a single, Universal installer for both. Or at least not yet.”

      You can if you buy Tiger Server.

      Point of order: The article is clearly about Tiger client

      Peace,
      Gene

      Or the reason I posed, which is that your company wants to deploy the same operating system among all Macs, but can’t do so the way it is now. We assume, of course, that they have legal licenses for everything.

      Peace,
      Gene

      A company that’s managing multiple Macs of different processor flavors would certainly be the target market for Tiger Server, and most could probably afford it, so why burden Tiger Client with Universality?

    10. Blind Lemon Curd says:

      Garret: Fine – if you play games with EAX then you have a point.
      .Net though is mostly irrelevant outside the Microsoft universe, although in theory there are some really clever ideas within it. Security concerns will probably dog its general widespread uptake though. Ethical concerns are the ones I’m stuck on, but that’s probably just me.

      Taken as a whole though, OS X is superior for the average end user in my opinion, if not for a specific kind of developer. It’s all shades of grey here, and I don’t have a problem with anyone pointing out when they find Windows superior to OS X, as it undoubtedly is in your case.

    11. SourceHound says:

      Err,

      there’s no Universal installer for Tiger because it has no reason to exist. Since Tiger Server is an add-on product, you can purchase it for use on any Intel or PPC make which supports it. On the other hand, since every Intel Mac ever made has shipped with 10.4.4 or higher, there’s no point in Apple producing a Universal installer, is there?

      Unless Apple decides it’s going to allow purchasers of Tiger to install it on non-Apple Intel hardware, there’s no way we’ll see a Universal installer for Tiger client on store shelves. Pointing out the lack of a product that has no reason to exist sort of makes me scratch my head.

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