I've been a Mac/PC user for almost a full year now - it's very hard to believe that last June, I took a (very expensive) gamble on a platform of which I knew nothing about and as a result, emerged with a totally new perspective on something that I had always shunned.

Over the past year, I've brought a handful of Mac related articles to AnandTech, covering everything from the mobile experience of Mac OS X to a look at the new Mac mini.  Through it all, my Mac usage has proved itself to be more than just a phase. My Macs are now just as much a part of my daily routine as my PCs. 

I'll run into people at trade shows and they are shocked by the fact that I'll actually be typing on a PowerBook (as if it is some sort of a surprise to actually use hardware that you recommend).  A few weeks back, I went down to AMD to talk about dual core and I even was commended by a few employees for bringing a "neutral" laptop to AMD, instead of my normal Pentium M based notebook. 

The reaction is always interesting, but to me, it's a non-issue; I'm not a switcher, but rather a dual user.  As such, I think my perspective on things tends to be a little different than most.  The Mac vs. PC debate almost always ends up being just as touchy of a subject as religion or politics, making it difficult to get a balanced perspective on anything relating to what's on the other side of the fence. 

I can hardly consider myself an expert on Macs, but I do see myself as someone who is genuinely interested in them; which is why when Apple started talking about the features in Mac OS X Tiger, I found myself just as intrigued as I would be talking to any PC manufacturer about a new product.   Apple's PR doesn't work the same way that PC manufacturers do; they are extremely secretive. NDAs and roadmaps just generally don't come from Apple, so I knew that if I wanted to get early experience with Tiger, I would have to go around Apple PR. 

Luckily, early on in Tiger's development, Apple created a Tiger Early Start program for developers through their Apple Developer Connection (ADC) website.  The Early Start program was designed for developers to get access to Tiger and to be able to develop for all of its new technologies. For me, it was a way to get access to monthly builds of Tiger and gain a ton of experience with the OS over the past several months. 

In order to get a good feel for the OS, I had to make sure that I had Tiger installed on a computer that I used regularly, but I didn't dare install a very beta OS on my main desktop.  Instead, I made my PowerBook the Tiger test bed, since it is something that I use regularly, yet on which I do not store extremely important data (I always had a copy of everything on my desktop and on my file server).  So, for the past several months, I used Tiger on my PowerBook, updating it whenever there was a new beta released.  However, I did wait to finish this article until I had spent a good amount of time with the final build of Tiger, which begins shipping today (although, thankfully, some copies were shipped out earlier than expected).  So, although a lot of the work that went into this article was done on beta copies of Tiger, the final article wasn't written until I'd used the final build of the OS. 

As with previous versions of the Mac OS X, version 10.4 (Tiger) isn't a free upgrade; Tiger is priced at $129.  As with most Apple products, there are some hefty savings to be had if you are a student/educator and are purchasing through Apple's online store or in an actual Apple store.  If you are eligible for a student discount, Tiger's price tag drops down to just $69. 

Tiger's student pricing was a trigger for me to talk about how much I do appreciate Apple's pricing on their software; while I agree that their higher end hardware is a bit steep, their software licenses are extremely reasonable.  I didn't think twice about ordering the iWork suite as soon as it was launched because I knew that it had applications I wanted and I knew that the price would be reasonable. I can't say the same about successive iterations of Microsoft Office, for example (or even individual Office applications).  Apple doesn't do much to combat piracy of their software, and part of the reason is that they don't have such a large user base where piracy is as big of an issue as it is in the Windows world. But, it is also worth noting that given the price of most Apple software (even their professional software is priced very reasonably), it isn't something that most users would balk at. 

Given that Tiger is basically the price of a modest hardware upgrade, a lot of the OS must be evaluated on a value basis for upgraders.  While my previous Mac articles have focused on the entire package of hardware and software, this one is definitely different as the evaluation is done from the standpoint of an OS X 10.3 (Panther) user.  Obviously, all new Macs will come with Tiger, so the cost of the OS is already included in the total package price; but for everyone else who, like me, has purchased a relatively new Mac in recent history, there is a definite purchasing decision surrounding the move to Tiger.

How New is Tiger?

Cost of entry aside, there are a number of feature and performance improvements in Tiger that are worthy of evaluation.  Quantifying the "newness" of Tiger is difficult; Apple put together a list of over 200 new features that made it in to Tiger, but some of the list appears to be more of a way to increase "feature count" rather than listing truly individual features.

At the same time, there are a number of changes that have been made in Tiger that aren't feature-worthy, but are either positive bug fixes, or negative changes in the way that aspects of the OS work. 

I've done my best to go through both the little things and the major changes in Tiger, but as is the case with all of these Mac articles, I always finish the article feeling like there's still a lot more to talk about.  These Mac articles have become easier to write since the first nerve-racking one, but they continue to be uniquely difficult as a lot of it is just trying to convey feelings of an experience. 

That being said, if you are new to the Mac platform or are interested in knowing how I ended up in a situation where I'd be interested in reviewing Apple's latest OS, I strongly suggest that you go back and read my first two Mac experience articles.  For everyone else, let's get right to it.

Installing Tiger
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  • pecosbill - Monday, May 16, 2005 - link

    As for your comments on the bugs in the initial release, I couldnt' agree with you more. Apple seems to have taken a page from Microsoft whereby only critical bugs are fixed for a .0 release. The other thing to consider is Apple relelased new hardware around the same time. My new 2.3DP G5 came with Tiger pre-installed. Apple used to have a strict tie between hardware and OS so any delay in Tiger would delay the hardware. I'm rather sure that has decreased now, but they may rather not support the older version of the OS on newer hardware as that raises costs due to compatibility testing requirements. Reply
  • pecosbill - Monday, May 16, 2005 - link

    Reply
  • msva124 - Thursday, May 05, 2005 - link

    >NeXT and NeXT step succeeded in the markets where it succeeded.

    In other news, among stocks that went up yesterday, stocks were up.
    Reply
  • JAS - Thursday, May 05, 2005 - link

    OS 10.4 has already exceeded my expectations.

    I was a little hesitant to install the new OS on my two Macs until the first update (10.4.1) is released. But today, I installed Tiger on a secondary drive in my dual processor G4 desktop Mac. I was pleased with the boost in overall system performance and did not encounter any software incompatibilities. So, I installed 10.4 on my G4 iBook, too. No problems there.

    The first improvements I noticed are with Safari and Finder operations. Dashboard, Spotlight and the new iChat AV are very cool. I just played a high-definition QuickTime movie trailer for the first time. The image quality is spectacular on my Cinema Display.

    I've upgraded QuickTime 7 to "Pro." I like how you can now record audio directly within QuickTime.

    Although there's room for improvement in certain areas, I think Apple has done a fabulous job with Tiger. I'm looking forward to seeing what the incremental 10.4 updates will bring over time.
    Reply
  • CindyRodriguez - Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - link

    Ah, I almost forgot:

    "The "foundation" for OS X was kind of forced into play, you know...;) And, it was years late and initially very lacking in promised features (many of which it still lacks.) "

    You really have no idea what you are talking about do you?
    How was it forced into play? Because Apple chose it over BeOS? Because Apple recompiled OpenStep for PowerPC? Because Apple came up with Carbon libraries to seamlessly run classic Mac OS Software in OS X natively with almost zero changes to code? Man did they force that sucker in.

    What I really wanted to ask you was, what features are still missing? What was promised at the purchase of NeXT but hasn't been delived yet?

    Finally, how was it years late? You are specifically talking about the NeXT/OpenStep core as far as I can tell. Are you talking about the first OS X Server release which was way more NeXT than the current OS X distribution (which has a FreeBSD core)? Or are you just talking out your butt again and confusing Copeland with NeXT and FreeBSD?
    Considering that Apple bought an OS that didn't even have SMP support because a MAJOR library in the development environment wasn't threadsafe and they almost completely reworked it into the basis of today's OS X in a couple years.. I think that's pretty damn timely, don't you?
    Reply
  • CindyRodriguez - Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - link

    WaltC:
    Do you believe all the crap you write?

    How many times to people have to point out to you that MICROSOFT was the one who started all the Tiger/Longhorn comparisons? Blame freaking Jim Alchin for comparing his vaporware to Apple's soon to ship OS. (BTW, last time I heard, WinFS was scrapped)


    Also, NeXT didn't "fail". it was bought by Apple. It certainly wasn't the company it was intended to be when Apple bought it but it wasn't out of business.

    "Oh yes--I suppose that's why the board fired him in '85...;) "
    That was an internal power struggle that Jobs lost. I'm not even sure what your point was? Perhaps you wanted to point out how well Apple did after Jobs left?


    "Both NeXt and NeXTstep failed commercially as I recall. The "foundation" for OS X was kind of forced into play, you know...;) And, it was years late and initially very lacking in promised features (many of which it still lacks.) "

    Um, no. NeXT and NeXT step succeeded in the markets where it succeeded. I bet that's hard for you to grasp but let me break it down. NeXT and OpenStep specifically provided a great development environment and it took of in industries that had a lot of internal custom code. From what I had heard, NeXT, NeXTstep and OpenStep were still very pervasive in the Chicago Stock Exchange well well after the heyday of NeXT pretty much up until Apple's buyout. (OS2 actually had a similar but smaller phenomenon)

    "Ah, yes, the RDF again...;) The truth of course is that *nobody knows* what Longhorn will be since Longhorn is a long way out. I see nothing wrong with a Tiger-x64 comparison because MS is *shipping* x64. Pretty simple, really. "

    Hmn, good point. I KID. It really was a dumb point.
    Microsoft just held a week long conference called WinHEC that focused on guess what? Come on walt, Guess. Do It.
    YES!! The focused heavily on Longhorn. In fact, I've hearn no real news out of it other than Longhorn. Gee, I wonder how people (like Jim Alchin) can even compare Longhorn to Tiger considering how tight lipped Microsoft is being about Longhorn features. I mean, aside from the regular info, the early build to developers, and the week long Longhorn love fest a couple weeks ago, we know absolutely nothing about it.

    On the other hand, there is the Windows64 comparison argument. Of course, that's pretty dumb too since I don't know of a single feature difference between XP64 and XP-SP2 aside from 64bit libraries. There's also that problem where MS won't even release XP64 for retail sales because driver support is still so crappy.

    Other than those few point and all the other ones covered by a dozen other people, I found your comments very enlightening.

    Cindy.
    Reply
  • rsfinn - Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - link

    From page 2: "With Macs, since there's no exposed boot menu, you have to hold down the "c" key while starting your machine to tell it to boot from whatever is in the CD/DVD drive."

    This works, but most users will never do this -- they'll insert the DVD and double-click the icon labeled "Install Mac OS X". This will set the computer to boot off the DVD and put up a dialog with a "Restart" button. After the installation is finished, the computer will be reset to boot off the partition on which Tiger was installed. No muss, no fuss.
    Reply
  • rsfinn - Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - link

    From page 3: "I definitely didn't see a single build that was released to developers that was 100% bug free ... with no public beta, and if the bugs aren't getting fixed in the developer release, then who's there to tell Apple when stuff isn't working right in Tiger?"

    Well, you, Anand, for one. "Beta" is supposed to mean "early access so developers can test the OS against their applications and report problems". Did you report any of the problems you saw in those prerelease builds? Or did you join the developer program just to get early access to the next cool thing?

    I'm picking on Anand here to point out this wider misconception about beta software -- even public betas; as a software developer myself it's annoying to me that most people think "public beta" means "I get to play with it for free". If people don't report problems, how can they get fixed?
    Reply
  • WaltC - Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - link

    #39 "Most of what you said is ridiculous."

    That's only because you don't really understand what I said at all...;)

    #39 "First of all, Apple's market share is growing. Of course other platforms sales aren't Apples sales. But most other sales aren't either Apple/Sun, etc."

    Apple's current market share--growing or not--is still ~80% below what it was a decade ago, in terms of percentage. One significant sign of this is the fact there are very few if any Mac-only development houses left in the world today. As I pointed out, the market as a whole is still growing and the fact is that *everybody's* unit numbers are rising because of it. Increased unit sales only counts for increases in market share when they exceed the growth of the market as a whole.

    #39" This is mostly an Apple/Wintel market. Sun is only servers and Apple doesn't compete much in their space yet. Apple's server sales are increasing, but are only now ramping up. Except in the scientific Unix space, Apples server sales would be against Windows servers. They don't yet have the breath to compete in the higher areas yet."

    Yes, in the Apple/Wintel market it's Wintel ~97%, Apple ~3%.

    #39 "Otherwise, it's Apple vs. MS."

    Impossible, since the vast bulk of Apple's earnings come from its hardware sales, and MS doesn't sell personal computers of any type (unless you want to count xBox, which would be silly, imo.)

    #39 Sure, other pc companies, or rather company (Dell) are growing, but that takes sales away from each other. Apple's increase in marketshare takes away from the Windows market itself. If Dell takes sale from Gateway, it's still a sale for MS. That's the point."

    First you say it's an Apple/Wintel market, then you say that every Apple sale is a bite out of Wintel, and then you say that people buying Wintel instead of Apple doesn't even affect Apple sales--which seems to me very much an RDF sentiment if I've ever heard one. If you think a great number of people do not consider and then reject Apple in favor of going Wintel, you are definitely an RDF sufferer...;)

    #39 "I suppose that Apple is taking away a few Linux sale as well, but it's almost all MS's."

    Have you ever stopped to consider how many Linux sales take bites out of the Apple? For you folks it's always a one-way street where Apple gains but never loses...;)

    #39 "All AMD did was to finally come out with better processors that they could actually make, rather than just announce, and then NOT make."

    'All AMD did...'--as if it was trivial...;) All AMD did was face a juggernaut with little more than a slingshot for a long time--and manage to win, over and over again. Heh...;) You're funny. The only company you don't trivialize is, of course, Apple...;)

    #39 "Apple does directly compete with MS on the OS front. Apple has always had different hardware. When Apple went to the 68000 rather than the 8088 way back when, there were few arguments that the 68000 was not a better chip. Apple simply went on through from there."

    You do not understand that an Apple OS *requires* and Apple-branded box *exclusively*. A MS OS will run on boxes manufactured by hundreds of companies around the world--and none of those boxes are made and sold by MS. It's very simple. That's precisely why its a ~97% to 3% market share split, if you haven't figured it out.

    39 "If Apple were to change to an x86, then every program would have to be redone. That would be almost impossible for the many Mac developers out there . It's just like the Itanium. Little software development has been done for it. Why should Apple be caught in that trap?"

    Itanium is a cpu. OS X is software. FYI, the foundation for OS X, NeXTStep, has *already* been done for x86--years before OS X shipped. "The many Mac developers out there" (heh) could still develop for the Mac since presumably Apple would still sell Macs while releasing an x86 version of its OS *at the same time* which might well attract *many more developers* than Apple presently has.

    Last, as noted, the split is *already* ~3% Apple versus 97% x86--so the current situation is not *much different* from the poor Itanium allegory you tried to use, is it?
    Reply
  • msva124 - Monday, May 02, 2005 - link

    Sorry, it was a dumb mistake. I don't think you are a troll anymore.

    >If Apple isn't taking away from the Windows market, then which market is it taking away from?

    Every sale made by apple doesn't necessarily take away someone else's. There are many users who are more or less satisfied with their current setup of 1 PC, yet decide to go ahead and buy a Mac to complement it. Had Apple not existed, they wouldn't have bought another PC, they would have just stuck with their current setup. So in this case, Apple gains one sale, but PC makers do not lose any. Obviously this is not the case all of the time. The situation is more complex than saying "for every sale made by apple, pc makers lose a sale" or vice versa.
    Reply

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