Mac OS X Leopard: A perfect 10
Apple's new operating system and its massive new feature set challenge users and developers to explore new and better ways of workingFollow @infoworld
What's changed in Leopard is that Apple has invested enormous effort to expose Mac framework enhancements to users through OS X's built-in facilities and applications. Leopard's out-of-the-box experience, which I define as the things that a user can do without spending an extra dollar on software, eclipses Tiger's, and Tiger was no slouch in this regard. In the past, third parties have offered freeware and shareware facilities to extend or even replace Finder, the Mac's answer to Windows' primitive Explorer. That died out with Tiger, and Leopard makes such efforts entirely useless. That is not a bad thing.
Unlike Microsoft, Apple is not afraid to put developers out of a given line of business. Leopard integrates e-mail, browser, calendar, search, preview, dictionary, thesaurus, media player, code-free scripted workflow, accessibility, and almost innumerable top-level bundled apps and capabilities that, in one sense, take out any market for supplanting these things. No matter how well Apple does something, someone has cooked up what it feels is a better, but usually just different, way to do it.
Leopard addresses that. Rather than seeing Leopard as a popping of the balloon for third-party enhancements to the Mac's core user experience, a more accurate way of looking at it is that Apple frees developers from trying to improve on that experience. Third parties can focus on new applications instead. Yet, Apple's 300-plus features are all things that third-party developers have at their disposal without requiring any hacks or workarounds to get at. If this registers somewhere between confusing and unbelievable on your scale, I understand. Apple has always let users and developers make their Macs into anything they like. Leopard moves the line between top-level functionality that can be improved upon and baked-in user-facing capabilities that don't need improvement.
Windows and Leopard don't compare
To the user, Leopard drives like the ultimate and ultimately extensible integrated application suite into which the Macintosh happens to boot. Every application installed to Leopard plugs into and extends the suite. Developers can't help it; merely using the Mac frameworks creates a Mac app, which is distinguished by its integration with and extension of the Mac as a whole.
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