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Mac OS 10.5, aka Leopard, may be the most analyzed release of an operating system upgrade in Apple’s history, coming as it does into a flourishing blogosphere after a multi-month (and leaky) beta cycle and an extra six months of rumination, contemplation, and investigation.
There's a lot to like about Leopard - and a few things we don't like.
Apple has done their part to stoke the excitement, as well. If you’re a true MacLifer, you’ve watched the Guided Tour and have pored over the oh-so-comprehensive list of Leopard's "300+ New Features." You've also perused Leopard's system requirements and have taken note of the more-demanding requirements for iChat. If you're a tech type, you've dug into the Leopard Dev Center and have given the Leopard Technology Overview more than a passing glance.
But the question remains: What's it like to actually use Leopard for day-to-day work?
Well, after picking up my copy of Leopard at a briefing in the Apple mothership on Thursday afternoon, I've spent over 30 hours communing with the big kitty. (I'm writing this on the morning of Sunday, October 28th.) I've worked in Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Microsoft Office, iWork, and more. I've emailed, surfed, and iChatted. I've FTPed and PDFed. I've even taken a couple of breaks, listening to tunes and podcasts, and watching The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
But part of that emailing was of head-scratching messages back and forth to my contacts at Apple, trying to ferret out reasons for the cat's occasional misbehavior. And part of that iChatting was with Mac|Life reviews editor Roman Loyola, trying to get some of iChat's much-vaunted new features to work as advertised. And then there was simply time spent rebooting, hoping that a fresh start would quash a bug.
Bottom line: There's a lot to like in Leopard - a lot - including a gorgeous new Finder, efficiency-boosting Spaces and Quick Look, enhanced support apps such as Mail and Preview, under-the-hood muscle such as Core Animation and a broad range of security advances, and - finally - improved font management.
But Leopard is buggy. If you're a geek like me and can handle the slings and arrows of a version .0 release, go for it - but be prepared for the bumps you'll find in the road. But don't install Leopard on your mom's machine. Not yet, at least - keep your eye on Software Update and wait for the bug fixes that are sure to arrive sooner rather than later.
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6. Time Machine