MacOS 10.5 (Leopard) Preview

I had a brief look at the “Leopard preview material”: on Apple’s website this morning before work (Jobs’ WWDC 2006 keynote started around 3am Australian time), and was disappointed. “Time Machine”: looks gimmicky (and, as someone who already has an automatic back-up mechanism, is not the sort of thing I need), though Apple’s long-overdue multiple-desktop feature, “Spaces”: looks intuitive and useful, a good replacement for “Desktop Manager”: and “Virtue”:, which I expect it to kill off. Otherwise, the major updates were updates to apps like Mail, and iChat, which I don’t and won’t use because there are open-source alternatives.

In the keynote video, which I got to watch tonight, Jobs promises that there’s “top secret” stuff in Leopard which they don’t want to reveal too soon. When we’ll start to see these, I don’t know. Leopard is due in May 2007, and if Vista appears before then, I expect Apple will show its trumps to the media soon after. But they’d better be good. Improvements to Spotlight are in the works, and with “Google Desktop”: and “Beagle”: around, they need to be. Nautilus on GNOME is already a far more capable file-manager than the anemic Finder, and it’ll be more so by May. If we don’t see serious improvements in MacOS’s usability in Leopard, top-flight Linux distributions like “Ubuntu”: will probably eclipse MacOS as the most useable desktop OS by the time 10.6 comes around. That’s a healthy thing: free and open-source is the future of software, and a usability victory over OSX would be a great achievement. I’m thinking of switching. Apple, you’d better make Leopard a revolution, because it could be your last chance to keep me on the platform, and I won’t be the only one to go if you don’t…

Author: Ben Hourigan

Ben Hourigan is a novelist from Melbourne, Australia. His books Kiss Me, Genius Boy and My Generation’s Lament are Amazon category bestsellers, and are available wherever good books are sold online. Ben also works as an editor, copywriter, and self-publishing consultant at his own firm, Hourigan & Co. For news and book release updates, sign up to his email newsletter.