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  • The Leopard Report: Playing the Great Waiting Game

    March 16th, 2007

    I’ve noticed that, of late, that people who care about such things aren’t speculating all that much about the alleged “hidden” or “top secret” features of Mac OS 10.5 Leopard. Instead, they’re wondering when the darn thing will be released, as if that’s something that is more important than almost anything in their lives.

    More to the point, you don’t hear so many predictions these days about those new features. I’ve weighed in on a few possibilities I’d like to see in Leopard, but beyond a new, more fluid Finder that can handle multitasking in a reasonably swift fashion, the speculation isn’t all that interesting, or imaginative.

    In a sense, maybe some of you will be so glad to see the thing after all this time that any features extending beyond the ten or so that Steve Jobs debuted at the WWDC last June will just be icing on the cake. Just having Leopard available may be sufficient to expand the Mac platform into new, unexpected directions. Or maybe not. We’ll just have to wait and see.

    In the meantime, Apple can easily make everything right in this alternate reality simply by revealing all the information that hasn’t been disclosed so far about Leopard, including its expected release date. That would be the simple answer. Lacking that, folks are looking for signs, checking the direction of the wind, or whatever it takes to ferret out the truth, which is definitely out there. But that truth lies within the walls of Apple Inc., and even they might not have a precise shipping date yet.

    So let’s look at three of the theories that have arisen around the Web in recent weeks and see how they survive a little dose of logic:

    The 10.4.9 Theory

    This new wrinkle on an old idea has it that development of Tiger — with the possible exception of critical security patches — must have ended with Tuesday’s release of the 10.4.9 update. Thus, Leopard is just around the corner, and that, as they say, is that.

    However, nobody has any way of knowing whether there is a 10.4.10 in our future. You see, it’s always possible that 10.4.9 will reveal a serious, remaining defect that will require another update. Or maybe that update is already under construction, slated to appear in the next month or two. In short, we just don’t know. Sure, it may be true that Apple would rather not devote too many more resources to Tiger, but software development isn’t that certain a process.

    The Leopard Book Theory

    If 10.4.9 provides no clues, might as well go to Amazon and see when your favorite computer book author has a Leopard title slated for release. Right now, May is the most common publication date. But take it from me, since I’ve written Mac OS books too, that such dates are sheer guesswork. The editor asks their author if they know anything. He or she will say no, but make an educated guess, based on the present state of the prerelease seeds they are getting from Apple.

    Yes, that’s how they get those books out within weeks of the release of a new Mac OS. As with developers who join Apple’s paid programs, they get to see the operating system as it’s being developed. They can’t talk about it, of course, because they all signed an ironclad confidentiality agreement. If they violate that agreement, they won’t be writing any more books, and will probably lose whatever money they’re earning on their current assignment.

    But don’t take those estimates as anything more than estimates.

    The WWDC Theory

    This one may have some traction. A goodly portion of the Worldwide Developer’s Conference will be devoted to Leopard and how programmers can make their products take full advantage of 10.5. This year, the WWDC is scheduled for June 11-15, which means Apple expects it to be released by then. They don’t traditionally reschedule a WWDC, but the date provides lots of clues. Consider, for example, that last year’s WWDC was held in August, in time for the release of the first developer preview of Leopard and the Mac Pro.

    In short, unless something goes really wrong with Leopard’s development process, you can be reasonably assured it’ll be out shortly before WWDC. Sure, it could appear sooner, but even if Apple gave that delivery date tomorrow, which is not very likely in the scheme of things, it wouldn’t appear at your favorite computer store until some time in the middle of April, and that may be pushing it.

    So be patient and don’t worry. When it’s here, it’s here. Your life won’t change either way.



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    14 Responses to “The Leopard Report: Playing the Great Waiting Game”

    1. John says:

      Personally, because of Apple’s marketing goals, I’ve became indifferent to these things. Intel released quad-core Xeons in November, and then we had ‘Macworld’ (not AppleWorld) in January, and Apple chose to talk about anything except the Mac.

      Before the keynote, I was ready to plunk down whatever the top of the line Mac Pro costs to get one. I can afford it, but I have no pressing need for it. I was psyched to buy. I was looking forward to hear anything new about Leopard and was ready to jump and buy.

      After the keynote in January I was completely floored by how disappointing it was. When a friend of mine called and asked what I thought about the iPhone and he was really excited about it, my reaction was ‘[email protected]#k the iPhone’. I was really that disappointed.

      Now, it’s been more than 7 months since we heard a peep about Leopard from Apple, and it’s been 4 months since the new Xeons were released, and nothing to show for it from Apple.

      It’s hard to keep speculating. It’s not possible to keep imagining what the new Leopard features could be after such a long period of silence. I’ve never known anybody to stay excited and speculating about anything for longer than 3 months without any kind of actual news.

      At this point, I’m indifferent. Whenever they release the new system is fine. I may not even jump to get it in the first week (I usually pre-order new systems). I don’t really care about a new Mac Pro until it comes with Leopard on board.

      Yes, this long lull from Apple about anything concerning the Mac has taken away any enthusiasm that I had for anything Mac-specific.

      We don’t see any current sales numbers from Apple, so we have no idea how things are going. I’m guessing that things are going well since Apple didn’t feel the need to change them. If the Mac Pros weren’t selling as Apple has projected then they would have changed something to appeal to customers more.

      Now that Vista has come and it wasn’t that big of a deal, I don’t think Apple feels the need to get the attention back, after all, each and every review of Vista mentions Tiger and the upcoming Leopard, so Apple doesn’t feel that it needs to do anything to keep the Mac in people’s minds.

      Personally, I think that Apple would show off the rest of Leopard at WWDC in June and will announce a ship date. This may sound too pessimistic, but I don’t think Leopard will ship by the end June.

    2. David says:

      I’m one of those people who could get his hands on a pre-release version of Leopard if I really wanted to, but I lost my zeal for beta software several years ago and, to be quite frank, I’ve seen nothing in Leopard that makes me want to rush out and buy it. Likewise I see nothing in the Mac product matrix that interests me; I don’t buy repackaged notebooks (mini), or all-in-ones and I am issued a notebook by my employer.

      I was also let down by a Macworld that didn’t even mention the Mac. My miniscule number of Apple shares should do very well by the iPhone, but I have little interest in a product I don’t need at home or work, can’t use while commuting and one that would tie me to one of the world’s most expensive voice and data plans. Recent arrivals from the UK simply can’t believe how much Canadians pay for wireless phone services.

    3. SteveP says:

      Aesop would be proud of your responders today.
      “The Fox and the Grapes” comes to mind.

      A pity that some people seem to have this need for constant stimulation to maintain interest or to “value” something.
      “I used to be excited but she put her clothes back on so now I can’t see her value.”
      And there are sooo many who are willing to provide empty excitement because of them – or maybe they’re just exhibitionists?

      Anyway, why not just wait and see what is provided, see if it offers you something you value enough to purchase and enjoy – for whatever reasons, there is as much “magic” as tool in Apple products – then go for it. Or not.

      Thoughtful speculation is fine, but let’s not get carried away with religious zeal or act like spurned suitors.

    4. Robert Boylin says:

      I’m waiting to purchase a new Mac and suffer double frustration. It appears that the delays in releasing new hardware may be coincident with Leopard’s release date. What if Apple is using their new multi-touch interface in some way? What if Apple’s providing two hard drives in various models, or at least made them upgradeable internally? Then, there is Intel’s chip timeline to complicate hardware complications.

      I’m guessing, like everyone, that Leopard might be released at the WWDC; but it’s public display is likely to be a Job’s event prior to the puchase date. Jobs has had success in advance notices lately. I cannot see the undisclosed features being secret from Apple’s programming community until Leopard being available over the counter. So, until we see Leopard being put through it’s paces, I’m reserving taking any bets.

    5. I’m waiting to purchase a new Mac and suffer double frustration. It appears that the delays in releasing new hardware may be coincident with Leopard’s release date. What if Apple is using their new multi-touch interface in some way? What if Apple’s providing two hard drives in various models, or at least made them upgradeable internally? Then, there is Intel’s chip timeline to complicate hardware complications.

      I’m guessing, like everyone, that Leopard might be released at the WWDC; but it’s public display is likely to be a Job’s event prior to the puchase date. Jobs has had success in advance notices lately. I cannot see the undisclosed features being secret from Apple’s programming community until Leopard being available over the counter. So, until we see Leopard being put through it’s paces, I’m reserving taking any bets.

      I’m sure that developers will have a chance to gain hands-on with the new features prior to WWDC, or at least I hope they do. Certainly if it impacts their products, they should know about it as soon as possible.

      Peace,
      Gene

    6. David says:

      I’m still running PowerPC at home and I’m happy with Tiger despite having seen development versions of Leopard. I wouldn’t call that craving “excitement” I’d call it not wanting to mess with something that works. You know, if it ain’t broke…

      I don’t want more flashy features in Leopard. I’ll move into the buyer’s category if they simply fix the Finder and Spotlight.

      On the hardware side I’ll probably wait forever for the kind of machine I want so Apple can continue to wait for my money. I’ve purchased 10 different desktop Macs since the early 90’s and Apple only got my money twice because they insist on charging a premium for basic features like drive bays and slotted video cards. I understand that Steve Jobs wants the computer to be an appliance and that many people in the general public want that too, but if you make a great computer for just one IT guy you influence the purchasing decisions of one hundred other people.

    7. I’m still running PowerPC at home and I’m happy with Tiger despite having seen development versions of Leopard. I wouldn’t call that craving “excitement” I’d call it not wanting to mess with something that works. You know, if it ain’t broke…

      I don’t want more flashy features in Leopard. I’ll move into the buyer’s category if they simply fix the Finder and Spotlight.

      On the hardware side I’ll probably wait forever for the kind of machine I want so Apple can continue to wait for my money. I’ve purchased 10 different desktop Macs since the early 90’s and Apple only got my money twice because they insist on charging a premium for basic features like drive bays and slotted video cards. I understand that Steve Jobs wants the computer to be an appliance and that many people in the general public want that too, but if you make a great computer for just one IT guy you influence the purchasing decisions of one hundred other people.

      I can go along with you to some extent about 10.5, particularly about the Finder. But Apple will have more than 200 new features in Leopard. Some will be flashy, because that’s what they have to do to sell upgrades.

      Peace,
      Gene

    8. gopher says:

      Leopard’s feature number one for me is Time Machine. Finally archival backup that makes sense.

    9. Troy says:

      You’re right about crawling Finder performance. That’s why these days I have a Windows XP box next to my Mac. I use it to store and browse all my photographs, for the simple reason that XP (on a Pentium 4 2.66GHz chip with 2GB memory and 32MB Matrox graphics card) displays the thumbnails almost instantaneously while the Mac (G5 Dual 1.8GHz with 2GB RAM and 64MB Geforce graphics) absolutely crawls.

      Let’s hope Apple fixes the Finder in Leopard. But then again, this is a call I have been hearing from OS 9 devotees ever since the first OS X came out, and Apple still hasn’t done anything about it (it’s been 7 years!). So I don’t hope for much, if anything at all, happening.

    10. Michael says:

      I don’t think I’d like a Finder that was “fixed” in the way “OS 9 devotees” would like it “fixed”. But I would like Finder to be faster and more reliable. And I’d like it to stop strewing .DS_Store files everywhere it goes (that it does is actually a result of an attempt to appease “OS 9 devotees”).

      If I need to archive and email a directory I’ve taken to going to the command line: ls -a to see what’s there, then rm -rf to delete .DS-Store files, and then tar -cjvf to make the archive. And after all that I could still end up sending useless “resource forks” to people on other platforms.

      On Linux I’d just use Ark in the GUI, and I’d be done with it.

      I guess Finder could add a few new features, too, without becoming over-complex: for example, drag-and-drop might be easier if one were able to split a Finder window in the way one can with Konqueror.

      It’s time the brushed aluminium look went, too.

    11. Ivo Wiesner says:

      “It’s time the brushed aluminium look went, too.”

      I am amazed that not more people complain about the Aqua interface. Is it not simply boring, if not annoying, to look at? The silly fake aluminium look, those tragic traffic light buttons…

      I use ShapeShifter, it makes such a huge difference. I know SS has a bad reputation for causing instability, because of APE and all that jazz, but I never had a problem with it.

      What’s wrong with being able to customise the look and feel of one’s computer? Why should one size fit all? Some people prefer a light appearance, some prefer dark colours. Some only want white or grey, others want pink. Why not give it to them?

      I really hope Leopard will bring a few colour options to the table. I feel like saying that Vista makes OS X look drab and uninspiring.

    12. “It’s time the brushed aluminium look went, too.”

      I am amazed that not more people complain about the Aqua interface. Is it not simply boring, if not annoying, to look at? The silly fake aluminium look, those tragic traffic light buttons…

      I use ShapeShifter, it makes such a huge difference. I know SS has a bad reputation for causing instability, because of APE and all that jazz, but I never had a problem with it.

      What’s wrong with being able to customise the look and feel of one’s computer? Why should one size fit all? Some people prefer a light appearance, some prefer dark colours. Some only want white or grey, others want pink. Why not give it to them?

      I really hope Leopard will bring a few colour options to the table. I feel like saying that Vista makes OS X look drab and uninspiring.

      So long as you have ShapeShifter to provide the interface you like, you needn’t worry about what Apple does.

      Frankly, I find the full-blown Vista, with the 3D Aero interface, a little but much, and prefer the scaled-down version.

      To each his/her own, I suppose.

      Peace,
      Gene

    13. Ivo Wiesner says:

      So long as you have ShapeShifter to provide the interface you like, you needn’t worry about what Apple does.

      Frankly, I find the full-blown Vista, with the 3D Aero interface, a little but much, and prefer the scaled-down version.

      To each his/her own, I suppose.

      Peace,
      Gene

      Hi Gene (sorry for the long quote, perhaps it would be better if it was possible to quote only relevant sections from someone’s post?).

      The thing with ShapeShifter is that it is a “haxie”, or a pretty invasive hack. I’m not a programmer, but I read recently that Apple will not consider *any* bug report when APE or any other Unsanity product is installed on the affected machine. Apple will not take any responsibility whatsoever. Maybe Apple are justified in doing so, but the bottom line for the customers is that they have to choose between either accepting Aqua for all its questionable design choices, or installing a hack that has caused all kinds of issues for a number of people (However, I mentioned that I personally never had a real problem with SS. The same goes for WindowShade, which is also a great product).

      I’d rather not have to worry every time there is an OS upgrade – just like there was a few days ago – that APE or any “haxie” might screw up parts of my OS.

      Right now, SS is not compatible with my main application, Logic Pro. SS causes Logic to freeze when using certain menu bar items. I know I can add Logic to ShapeShifters “Exclude List”, but that’s not a satisfactory solution, since Logic will then appear in Aqua style, yet the menu bar displays half Aqua, half my chosen theme. Now, *that’s* ugly, believe me.

      Why doesn’t Apple include a few theming options in OS X? I can’t see why not. (BTW, I agree about Vista, it does seem a bit over the top, but it has that certain “Wow” factor, which OS X lost quite a while ago).

    14. Hi Gene (sorry for the long quote, perhaps it would be better if it was possible to quote only relevant sections from someone’s post?).

      The thing with ShapeShifter is that it is a “haxie”, or a pretty invasive hack. I’m not a programmer, but I read recently that Apple will not consider *any* bug report when APE or any other Unsanity product is installed on the affected machine. Apple will not take any responsibility whatsoever. Maybe Apple are justified in doing so, but the bottom line for the customers is that they have to choose between either accepting Aqua for all its questionable design choices, or installing a hack that has caused all kinds of issues for a number of people (However, I mentioned that I personally never had a real problem with SS. The same goes for WindowShade, which is also a great product).

      I’d rather not have to worry every time there is an OS upgrade – just like there was a few days ago – that APE or any “haxie” might screw up parts of my OS.

      Right now, SS is not compatible with my main application, Logic Pro. SS causes Logic to freeze when using certain menu bar items. I know I can add Logic to ShapeShifters “Exclude List”, but that’s not a satisfactory solution, since Logic will then appear in Aqua style, yet the menu bar displays half Aqua, half my chosen theme. Now, *that’s* ugly, believe me.

      Why doesn’t Apple include a few theming options in OS X? I can’t see why not. (BTW, I agree about Vista, it does seem a bit over the top, but it has that certain “Wow” factor, which OS X lost quite a while ago).

      The quoting system is automated, so we don’t have much control, and the person who created it has apparently given up the project. So, though imperfect, we’ll stick with it. If we remove it, the existing quotes are replaced with a numeric ID number, which means we’d have to do lots and lots of manual editing to fix. And that’s not worth it.

      I understand your concerns about ShapeShifter. Apple has been reluctant to provide multiple themes for a long time, and I didn’t see that changing.

      As to “wow factors,” well at some point the operating system has to get out of the way and let you get some work done.

      Peace,
      Gene

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