The Leopard Report: Running Late?

February 22nd, 2007

There were lots and lots of hopes when Apple first unveiled Mac OS 10.5 Leopard last August at the WWDC. Although some might have thought “Is that all there is?” when the presentation was over, you expected there was a lot more to come. Steve Jobs said that some features were being kept under wraps, because Microsoft might allegedly copy them for Windows.

True? Well, it sounded like marketing hype, actually. The chances that Microsoft could somehow graft new Leopard-derived features onto Windows Vista in a few months wasn’t terribly logical. Microsoft had five years to finish Vista, and had actually shed significant features along the way.

But it made for good copy, and maybe some people believed it. No matter, because most of you no doubt expected the rest of the picture to be presented during the keynote address at last month’s Macworld. But that was not to be.

Oh well, maybe Steve Jobs wanted to focus attention on the iPhone, and some on the Apple TV, and too much emphasis on Leopard — any emphasis on Leopard — would dilute the message. So expectations arose that there would soon be some sort of special press briefing where we’d learn the rest of the story.

That was not to be either. As of today, all we know about Leopard, officially at least, is what Apple tells us in its “Sneak Peek” and that it’s due for release this coming spring. As we approach the final days of February, you have to wonder why all’s quiet about what’s really happening. Surely the feature set has long since been finalized, and all that’s left is a few weeks or a few months of fine-tuning. Or at least, it would seem that way, although I realize things aren’t so simple when it comes to building a new version of an operating system.

Some Mac sites have suggested that the date for this year’s WWDC, June 11-15, clearly indicates that Leopard will ship during that timeframe. This would seem to be in keeping with previous WWDC sessions, where there has been a major product revelation that developers and power users alike need to know. Surely the release of a new operating system would fit into that category.

So is there some unexpected hang-up in getting Leopard out the door? Or are we all becoming just too impatient about such matters. After all, it’s not as if Tiger is so bad that we can’t continue to use it for a few more months.

On the other hand, the arrival of Windows Vista must have somehow pressured Apple to get their work done as quickly as possible, without sacrificing quality of course. But that is pure speculation on my part.

Of course, none of this has stopped the rumor sites from suggesting that Apple is way ahead of schedule at this point, and that Leopard will ship in late March, closely coinciding with the expected arrival of Adobe Creative Suite CS3. Somehow the planets are supposed to align on both projects at the same time, although I fail to see any real connection. After all, a spring 2007 release for Adobe’s productivity applications was announced last year, and the Photoshop CS3 public beta got some pretty good marks considering it wasn’t a release product. So Adobe may indeed by making great progress in getting the suite out the door.

It’s not as if the heads of Apple and Adobe are secretly plotting to get their products out at the very same time. Besides, if Leopard were only a few short weeks from release, I’d think we would have heard more about it by now, and not be left with an incomplete Sneak Peek. But what do I know? After all, it’s quite possible Apple is finalizing the press announcements and that the full briefing, and the public revelation of all of Leopard’s features, will come in a week or two. Then we’ll all know the actual release date and pricing.

However, I suppose it is possible that Apple has encountered some unexpected bumps along the way, thus slowing work on completing 10.5. It may well be that some features that might have appeared will be held until 10.6, or whatever it’ll be called.

But since Apple doesn’t let us in on such information, I can only consider a few possibilities and leave plenty of room in our Comments section for you to contribute our own ideas. Who knows: One of you may even have the right answer!

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9 Responses to “The Leopard Report: Running Late?”

  1. Max says:

    ANY “Mac” news will do 😉

  2. Love says:

    Well, developers haven’t seen a new Leopard seed in a long time. Either they’ve introduced some huge new features that they’re waiting to show before seeding (such as the much-anticipated UI refresh), OR development has completely run off the rails for some reason, so they don’t have anything positive to show at the moment.

  3. Richard Taylor says:

    Two possibilities — the engine is off the track, or Apple is about to introduce a new technology so advanced it will shock the world — native Windows interoperability, say, or maybe anti-gravity. In any case, the beta folks have got to have their time with it, so maybe March is not a reasonable release date.

  4. David says:

    Perhaps I’m in the minority here, but I’m very content with Tiger. For me, the feature I would like to see improved most is iCal, but even iCal as it exists today really is quite good (for my needs). I would be more excited if Chronos could get SOHO Notes to work properly and actually sync as advertised.

  5. William says:

    I think there’s a misunderstanding. Though Microsoft is well-known for cheap, quick & dirty, knock-offs, the issue of Microsoft “copying” Apple wasn’t one of copying ideas in code; it was of copying the same promotional mantras, burining features, and reasons to upgrade that Apple will hope to entice Apple users and potential switchers with. You’ll note that some Windows features like parental controls, backup features, and media experience got heavy promotion in Vista’s (ho-hum) rollout. If Apple has identified what it thinks will drive people to open their wallets, why should they give any hint to their competition what they’ll be beating the drum about? My guess is that Apple will have their press conference when they want to start the Leopard “Time to Upgrade” promotion and not a minute sooner. Work people into a frenzy and look like you’ve left your competitors in the dirt.

  6. Richard Dalziel-Sharpe says:

    I would rather wait and have it as bug free as is humanly possible, rather than have patch after patch to clean up the mess of a golden beta release.

  7. Roger says:

    William is on the mark; Apple is a marketing company as much as anything. The hardware and software are something to market.

    I would only ad to William’s thoughts with this; Apple’s Leopard timing will have a lot to do with Vista teething problems as they they become a larger target with all the new adopters.


  8. Mike Peter Reed says:

    Let’s hope the Leopard is not a fat cat. Can a Leopard change its spots?

  9. Al Feldzamen says:

    Leopard might well be thought of in synch with the forthcoming iPhone.
    What that device truly needs to succeed, in view of its obvious disadvantages (high price, limitation to Cingular, small memory for music/video, lack of voice dialing, etc.) is a KILLER APP.

    Such an app could well be DICTATION-OCR SOFTWARE (since a microphone is already present, and a stripped down OS X) . . . software that would let a user dictate an outgoing Email, or text that could go into a rudimentary word processor (like TEXTEDIT), and thence to a memory file or, by any one of several means, to a printer if desired.

    Then that device, trademark issues permiting, could be renamed the POCKET MAC !

    And then that software could well be incorporated into LEOPARD, which would give it the boost needed to stand out as more than a slight improvement over TIGER !

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