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
One snag that commercial users hit during migration is the deactivation of applications that require license keys or online purchase validation. Such applications will demand registration on their first launch, making it all the more critical that you keep a record of your registration keys.
Following installation, Leopard activates Software Update, a free service that rapidly checks your Mac against available updates. All Apple-branded software is covered by Software Update, so it's important to run it again if you install new software after Leopard is running.
Leopard comes with a short printed manual that walks you through its features. It will strike Mac newcomers as bizarre that this tiny manual actually takes a green user from baffled to productive, and with no condescension, no disarming cuteness, and no intimidation. You get used to that. It's common to all Apple documentation and services.
Spoiling users in productive ways
Leopard is intrinsically integrated from the core to the bundled apps, making Leopard useful straight out of the box, no extra software required. That hasn't been the case to this point. Leopard is the first release of OS X that, if made and sold by a competitor, would bankrupt Apple.
The trouble with 300-plus new features is that even Mac users might fear being knocked off balance, if not buried under an avalanche of newness. (And yes, 300 is a verifiable claim, shy of reality if anything; that figure doesn't include a lot of the new system-level and developer goodies.) Millions of users were just finding their rhythm with Tiger (OS X 10.4). Won't most of this go to waste simply because professional users don't have time to stop working and play with the mountain of toys that Apple put under their trees?
The mind-stretcher with Leopard is that the 300 features actually make OS X simpler. You don't have to pull in pieces from elsewhere and fire up AppleScript to flesh out a maximally productive environment. Leopard users will spend far less time bouncing from app to app, or from one System Preferences (the Mac's Control Panel) pane to another, to wire up their workflows. Insider tips are no longer required. With Leopard, Apple has brought everything to the surface. The beautiful part is that the way Apple put Leopard together, the new features don't carry a learning curve. They just seem to appear when you reach for them.
I worked constantly and deeply with Leopard before slogging through Apple's overwhelming master list of Leopard enhancements to make sure that Apple kept its promises. It did. That tedious work done, I'd rather relate some direct experiences with the features that just appeared when I needed them while I was using Leopard. It is by no means a representative sample or a greatest hits remix. Leopard doesn't lend itself to that. I'll just tell you about some of the things that jumped into my hand when I stretched it out.
No matter how big our displays are, they're never big enough. OS X is so slim and fast that Mac users immediately take up the habit of leaving apps and documents open so that they can easily multitask. I multitask best on the two-headed (dual display) Mac Pro in my lab. But an hour into any work session with that machine, I've managed to fill two displays with deep layers of overlapping windows and begun wishing I had another display, and then another.