Installing TigerThe Tiger installation process is extremely quick and painless. Although you can get a similarly simple installation method with Windows, if you enable the unattended setup feature, what's important is that stock (with no modifications) Tiger offers a very painless install. This isn't a new feature in Tiger, as Panther appears to install just as easily.
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. Doing so works flawlessly (even on non-Apple keyboards, if you were wondering), and you are greeted with a familiar screen.
You select the language in which you'd like to proceed, agree to the software license, select the hard drive to which to install, and then the type of installation that you'd like to perform. The type of installation is where things differ a bit from Windows. The Tiger installer offers three options: Upgrade, Archive & Install or Erase & Install.
The Upgrade and Erase & Install options are pretty self-explanatory. It is the Archive & Install option that is unique to OS X. The installer describes this option as doing the following: "Moves existing System files to a folder named Previous System, then installs a new copy of Mac OS X. You cannot start up your computer using the Previous System folder." You can also check an option that will copy all of your users, their home folders, and their network settings to the new install - effectively giving you all of the benefits of an Update, but with the cleanliness of a clean install.
Although not explicitly mentioned here, most of your applications should work just fine after the Archive & Install option. Remember that for the most part, OS X applications are fairly self-contained and modify very little outside of your Applications folder, so moving your old System files shouldn't change the behavior of most applications. Some applications don't behave properly after this type of an install. I had to re-install Stuffit Expander and there is a known issue with Photoshop CS and no longer opening images dragged onto its icon in the Dock after an Archive & Install. But for the most part, applications were fairly well behaved.
I've tried all install options and have pretty much settled on Archive & Install as my favorite of the bunch for the reasons mentioned above. One thing that I was curious about was how long the OS X Tiger install would take, and so I conducted a timed install procedure on three machines: a Powermac G5 2.5GHz, a Mac mini and a 15" PowerBook G4.
Both the mini and the PowerBook G4 came in with identical install times of 36 minutes, while the G5 installed Tiger in 22 minutes. What's also particularly nice and quick about the Tiger install is that the procedure is complete without any reboots until the very end; after the OS is installed, a single reboot will drop you into the brand new OS.