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Making Stories Out of Nothing At All

An example of how far Apple has climbed in the tech world is the recent story suggesting that the latest version of Adobe’s Creative Suite applications may not run properly under Mac OS X Leopard.

It’s all based on some apparently offhand comments from Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen during an interview that are surely honest, but the interpretations are going way overboard. But then, this is Apple, and anything with the slightest negative implication is apt to be exaggerated beyond all proportion by certain less savory elements of the media.

So let’s look at the facts: Leopard hasn’t shipped yet, nor has Apple specified when it’ll be released, beyond the vague October time-frame. Adobe is clearly receiving prereleased versions, same as any other registered developer, so they are fully aware of the state of the operating system.

At the same time, things are apt to be quite fluid until the moment Leopard is declared Golden Master. A problem discovered today may be fixed by an update tomorrow. Indeed, we could probably expand Adobe’s comment to cover every single Mac software company. None of those products have been tested against anything but beta versions of Leopard. Fixing problems is akin to chasing a moving target, unless, perhaps, Apple assures them that a particular feature that broke their software won’t change in the final release — or a conflict has been fixed. That also requires regular communication between Apple’s software engineers and third parties.

So basically, all Chizen said is that he just doesn’t know, which is, of course, an expression of common sense. If there’s a problem, they’ll fix it. Period. After all, Adobe sells a ton of Mac products, which accounts for a handsome portion of their income. How could it be otherwise?

At the same time, these stories raise the specter of the Adobe Creative Suite having problems with Leopard, which is something that simply can’t be confirmed.

You can, however, use the past as a guide. In large part, applications continue to run just fine as Apple has upgraded Mac OS X. There may be occasional rough spots, but more often then not, they won’t seriously interfere with regular use of the product in question.

The major exceptions occur when a software company’s developers use unsupported techniques or attempt to change a system feature. Such steps, even though they may work just fine, may also create serious trouble for the product or the operating system even when there’s a minor maintenance update.

On the other hand, Apple doesn’t work in a vacuum. They are no doubt testing Leopard against tons of third-party products to make sure they run properly, and to work with the affected developers to set things right. Think they don’t communicate with Adobe, Microsoft, Quark and all the rest of the companies that build mission critical software for the Mac? Well think again, because it’s clear that they do. Indeed, if they discovered something was seriously wrong involving Leopard and the Adobe Creative Suite, they would inform Chizen’s crew forthwith.

So let me go on the record to state that I have no clue how well anything runs under Leopard, but I would submit that there probably won’t be any serious problems with Adobe’s products, any more than there will be serious problems with those of most other companies.

I also gather from what I’ve read about Leopard is that its foundation carries over in large part from previous Mac OS X versions. It’s not a revolution, but an evolution.

Of course, some elements of the tech press, inured to the chronic problems afflicting Windows users whenever Microsoft upgrades its operating system, will probably expect a major catastrophe to occur on the day Leopard is released and is installed on Macs around the world.

I do not expect that to happen. Two and a half years have passed since Tiger’s release. Apple has had plenty of time to refine Leopard and make sure it as stable as possible right out of the starting gate.

Yes, there will be the inevitable 10.5.1 and so on and so forth. I would only hope, though, that they will take the time to squash potential early-release bugs before Leopard appears and not three weeks later. With the eyes of a skeptical tech press following their every move, Apple has to move with far more care than they used to. Of course, that may indeed be a good thing for everyone concerned.