24 hours in OSX Leopard + iLife '08

I'm not going to bore everyone with stuff they've read elsewhere. This is purely my first impressions for the sake of posterity. So with no more intro, here it is, my top five new features in Leopard/iLife '08 I can't live without.

  1. Spaces. Some people hate them, I can't live without them. Organise my work spaces into logical areas in a virtual space. Make sense? No? Tough. Get a Mac!
  2. iPhoto '08. Nothing revolutionary in the product but a nice evolution from the '06 iteration I've been used to. The interface is a lot more intuitive and polished. Now to find another plugin that will allow me to upload directly into the galleries here at the Gray Matter and I'll be set.
  3. Tabbed terminals. We've all (by now) seen tabbed browsers and Unix environments (KDE/Gnome/Enlightenment/et al) have had tabbed terminals for a long time. It's so good to have the same functionality in OSX. Now I can open one terminal program and run many shells without cluttering up my work space. W00t.
  4. Apple Mail. The new RSS integration is superbly done and well integrated. I can now read my RSS feeds just as easily as my e-mail. This totally kicks butt.
  5. Speed. It's faster than Leopard from a purely subjective point of view. Applications open faster, switching between apps is snappy without significant lag, boot up and shutdown is not painful. All round, even with all the eye-candy, the whole system feels faster.

Another noteable mention is the "stacks" feature which greatly reduces clutter in the dock. Don't know what I'm talking about? Then get a mac :P Seriously, you wont regret it.

I'm not going the end with "insert non-Mac system here" bashing, but I will say that in terms of intuitive interface, usability/features out-of-the-box, speed and overall " polish" Leopard makes the other offerings in the market today look decidedly dated. Vista looks good, don't get me wrong, but damn(!!) could BE any slower? Linux (the desktop distributions) are fantastic for out-of-the-box features and productivity tools but compatibility problems with new and/or exotic hardware can make getting going non-trivial, especially for the new Linux user.

Compatibility is really a moot point on OSX; if you don't own a Mac then you can't install it (without some serious hacking). That in a lot of ways is what so good, and at the same time bad about OSX - Apple never have to worry about obscure hardware combinations, but if you don't like their hardware, there aren't a lot of options to modify specifications greatly. If they didn't build it, you're on your own. Microsoft and Linux are in a totally different world of pain having to ensure support for all manner of different components, and then having to make sure they all play nice together, which we all know is easier said than done. I'm not convinced that Vista would be selling as well as it is if it weren't for the OEM market bundling deals that Microsoft have done - regardless of the legality or "fairness" of those deals (I'm not going into that...most people know my thoughts).

But I digress. Leopard is everything we were promised for the next iteration of OSX; Apple did not disappoint. However, initially the annoucement was OSX and iLife would be bundled and not be separate products once Leopard hit the market. This didn't happen. My only guess is that after seeing what was on offer in Vista, Steve Jobs decided there was no good business or marketing reasons to bundle the two cash-cows for Apple to remain competitive. Who knows. Even so, the purchase price for OSX+iLife is still significantly less than a comparable Vista bundle and you get arguably the best desktop operating system available, period. I'm one very happy Mac user.

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