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  • Newsletter #367 Preview: The Tiger Report: Overcoming Inertia

    December 11th, 2006

    On a fairly regular basis, I talk about the problems remaining in Mac OS X, despite five major releases.

    First, the positives: Each update is said to be faster and more supremely stable than the previous release, in contrast to Microsoft, which as onerous system requirements for Windows Vista, requirements that up to half of the existing PCs cannot meet. Indeed, unless you have a very powerful PC, the Vista experience is apt to be second-rate, with some of its fancier graphical features disabled.

    Now there is really no official word on what systems will be supported and what systems might be left behind with Leopard. Some suggest you won’t be able to run it on a G3, which leaves behind iBooks that will be barely four years old when Leopard arrives.

    Of course, those computers don’t really do that great a job with Tiger either, so maybe it’s time for them to be retired or set up to handle backup chores, or used as a dedicated fax machine or phone management computer.

    Story continued in this week’s Tech Night Owl Newsletter.



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    One Response to “Newsletter #367 Preview: The Tiger Report: Overcoming Inertia”

    1. Andrew says:

      Another criticism of Vista, surprise surprise. Vista requires an 800MHz Pentium III as its baseline, and 512MB of RAM. That minimum will run perfectly fine if you turn off the eye-candy (much of it won’t turn on even if you want it), which contrary to most reviews, is NOT a valid reason anybody should upgrade any OS anyway.

      OS X Leopard leaving G3 machines behind is about the same as Microsoft requiring an 800MHz processor. There were hacks on Tiger to run on machines too old to be supported, and they work fine for the most part, but Apple’s hardware baseline matches up pretty well with the hardware you need for decent performance. Despite the criticism, Microsoft is pretty good at setting hardware baselines as well.

      For Widows 2000, a Pentium at 133MHz was the baseline. For Windows XP, it was a Pentium II at 233MHz and for Vista its a Pentium III at 800MHz. That works out, in each case, to a 5-year-old laptop at the time the OS was released. Such machines will not give you all of the eye-candy, but for tasks that a 5-year-old laptop are typically used for, they do just fine. Its kind of like running Tiger on a 400 MHz Pismo PowerBook, which will boot up and run productivity applications just fine, but will likely balk under even moderately heavy applications.

      More important than processor requirements, RAM requirements have also increased with each release of both OS X and Windows, and again the two platforms pretty much mimic one another for how much RAM they need to work well. On Tiger and XP 512MB is the practical minimum, with 104MB a lot more comfortable.

      Ditto for graphics. Panther introduced Quartz Extreme, followed by CoreImage in Tiger. Its very easy to complain that Vista’s Glass interface won’t work without a hot-shot video card, but how many non-Glass capable video cards (those with a Mac version) will give you CoreImage support? The 64MB ATI 9250 in my 1-year-old Mac Mini fails the cut for CoreImage, and as a result I don’t get some of Tiger’s eye-candy. You don’t see a flood of complints that widgets don’t give the “Ripple” effect by owners of Macs that don’t support CoreImage, and I doubt you will see a flood fo complaints from Vista users whose dialog boxes don’t fade gracefully in and out.

      I use Vista (RC2) on one of my older PCs, a 1.13GHz Pentium III laptop with 768MB of RAM and 16MB S3 (non-Glass capable) video card. The experience isn’t much different than using Windows XP or 2000 on that machine, only the security is better, networking is more robust and there are a few cool new features (mostly stollen from OS X). It isn’t any slower or less compatible than Tiger is on my 1GHz G4 Power Mac (no CoreImage), which is also in daily use without complaints, despite not getting all of OS X’s eye candy.

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