You can’t imagine the consternation on the part of some Mac users after reading published reports that Mac OS X Leopard was being postponed until October because Apple wanted to improve compatibility with Windows Vista.
Without much thought, some folks ignored the illogical nature of the basic premise and the story simply took off. It’s not that Apple has helped much, since they’ve said very little about Leopard in recent months. Everything about Leopard’s progress is unofficial, with reports from folks who ought to know better about the state of 10.5’s development process, which was said not to be going so well.
So where are all the “top secret” features touted by Steve Jobs at last year’s WWDC? His excuse was that he didn’t want to give Microsoft a chance to copy those features for Windows Vista. As a practical matter, this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Even if Microsoft wanted to steal some of those features, it might take a year or two to alter an operating system that was already in the final Q&A process.
In other words, it was all just marketing hype, or perhaps a clever excuse to avoid saying those extra features weren’t quite ready to display publicly last year.
Of course, when Apple barely uttered a word about Leopard’s progress in January at Macworld Expo, you can bet that the rumor mills were fueled to overflowing. Every single month, we heard that final release was just weeks away and Apple would reveal all of Leopard’s secrets to an eager audience of Mac users.
To be sure, I felt reasonably certain in January that Leopard would arrive in late March, to coincide with the sixth anniversary of Mac OS X. As February turned into March, I realized my expectations wouldn’t be fulfilled. At this point, though, it really didn’t matter. It could be May or June and it would make no difference. I have other things to spend my money on, and Tiger works just fine for me. As much as I enjoy putting a new Mac OS through its paces, I’m content to wait.
Update: Anyway, the theory that Leopard would be postponed until fall made no sense either. What would Apple need to do to Leopard when it came to Vista compatibility that would delay it so long? It couldn’t be Boot Camp, since third parties have already managed to induce it to run Vista, and this wouldn’t seem a valid reason to put Leopard on the back burner. What’s more, version 1.2 of the Boot Camp beta has since added official support for Vista, eliminating one more silly argument about the alleged delay.
To make things all the more interesting, Apple was finally quoted as saying that it wasn’t changing its promise to deliver Leopard during the first half of this year.
Now that doesn’t mean that you should always believe Apple, because it may well be that a final delivery date is still in flux. Besides, as most of you realize, Apple has been known to say one thing and do another. For example, as some have mentioned already, the Mac mini first appeared only a few months after Apple’s finance executives said they didn’t intend to enter the low-cost PC arena.
Of course, that could have been a little sleight of hand to misdirect potential competitors. Or perhaps the final decision about whether to go ahead with the mini wasn’t made until after the analyst meeting in question.
So where does that leave us? Well, nowhere I should imagine. After all, the original story about a Leopard delay had no verification and was without logic. It probably should not have been published in the first place.
Of course, so long as Apple continues to say nothing about Leopard, I suppose there’s plenty of room for rampant speculation to fill in the gaps. At the same time, I would hope that a few of those so-called journalists who are ripe and ready to run with any story about Apple, whether verified or not, will learn a few of the basics of their profession.
However, that’s something I’m not betting on.
In any case, for the sake of any of you who really care at this point, I think Apple’s decision to schedule the WWDC in June says it all. They fully expect to have Leopard shipping or close to shipping at that time.
Meantime, I would hope the official announcement will be coming soon, so all the speculation can end for good. Or until there’s something else to speculate about.
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