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> Desktop. Okay, so the Leopard menu bar is translucent, the Dock is 3D and reflective, and new Stacks folders help you organize stuff in your Dock (which can be easily done - though less elegantly - today). Nothing earthshaking here. The Stacks "fan" view, in fact, seems quite odd at first blush, and also seems to limit you to a rather small number of "fannable" items per Stack. The Downlaods Stack, on the other hand, looks promising in its ability to tame and contain downloads, and the new, deeper window shadows seem to actually be helpfuly. All in all, however, the new Desktop is primarily eye candy.
> Finder. There's some real meat to the refurbished Finder - enough, I venture to predict, that you'll be seeing more than one article in Mac|Life or on MacLife.com that's designed to help you get the most out of it. The new network searchability capability will be a true boon to home, office, and remote networks (if it works well), as will the abilty to use Boolean logic in Spotlight searches (although, admittedly, this is a relatively complex capability that will be used by few). The new Cover Flow file view is a truly useful treat, enabling you to page through images of your files as you do through your CDs in iTunes. Speaking of iTunes, the new Finder looks a lot like its music-organizing forebear - Apple appears to be bringing all of its hardware and software together into one Grand Unified Interface Theory (expect the old iPod's scrool 'n' click interface to go the way of the dinosaur Real Soon Now). Although we need to dig into the Leopard beta before we pronouce the new Finder a full success, even this cynical soul is encouraged.
> Quick Look. Truly slick - ranks up there in the "How did we live without it?" strata along with Expose. At its most basic, Quick Look simply allows you to view the contents of a file without having to launch the app that it's linked to - and if you've ever needed to look at an InDesign or Photoshop file and had to wait while those turgid beasts slouched towards the desktop, you'll greatly appreciate the time saved. (But wait - will Adobe apps work with Quick Look? At 11:46 on the evening of June 11th, the answer to that question is not known; stay tuned...). Quick Look enables three different levels of file viewing: At its most basic, there's the Cover Flow view in the Finder. Next up is an expanded window view. Finally, there's a full-screen view - great for videos and large images. Put me down as impressed.
The final verdict: Although we had hoped for more out of the Leopard announcements - wow us, Steve, please! - we must admit that what we saw demonstrated today in Moscone Center is one slick, smooth, well-thought-through, and undeniably attractive operating system. Of course, all we saw were demos, so there are still many questions that need to be answered - but Leopard appears to be a winner. An incremental, evolutionary winner, but a winner nonetheless.
That said, I'm worried about how much horsepower will be required to support a lot of the slickness I witnessed today (system requirements weren't announced) and I find myself a bit more than a little concerned that all the eye candy may give us all a case of digital diabetes rather than simply allowing us to get our work done with efficiency (though the new, simplified user-level icons were an eye-settling relaxation).
However, Leopard looks well worth the upgrade price - which Jobs teasingly introduced as $129 each for the Basic, Premier, Buiness, Enterprise, and Ulitmate version in a clear swipe at Microsoft's inane Vista pricing scheme. As Jobs said, though, "We think most people will buy the Ultimate version."
In other news
Jobs also announced the release of a public beta of a Windows XP/Vista version of Safari 3. Y'know, it may be that I'm not a business guy; it may be that I'm not a Windows guy; it may be that I'm a simple, dyed-in-the-wool Mac head ... but I couldn't care less. Yes, it may help Apple increase its market share. Yes, it may further bring The Goodness That Is Macintosh to the Windows heathens, but... hey... let someone else worry about that.
One Safari tie-in that is of interest, however, is that Jobs announced that developers would be able to use standard AJAX methodologies to create Web-based apps that will run on the iPhone's Safari implementation, and that will have access to all iPhone services such as the keyboard, scrolling management, calendaring, contacts, full security, Google whatever, and the like. The developers in the crowd who had been hoping for a full SDK (software development kit) seemed cool to the idea, but at least it puts them in a better situation than what was announced a couple of months back - which was that the iPhone would be a totally closed system. Now it's available for web-centric apps.
So that's it
What the five-thousand-plus of us crammed into the Moscone Center this Monday morning were shown was, all in all, all good stuff: Leopard looks as good as ever - and, with its Finder and other interface improvements, even a bit better than we knew of on Sunday.
New iMacs? Not yet.
New Cinema Displays? Not yet.
New multi-touch screen iPods? Not yet.
A new subcompact 'Book? Not ... yet?
As the Firesign Theater once reminded us, the future ain't here yet.