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Leopard early adopters suffer for the rest of us
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Written by Daniel   
Saturday, 03 November 2007 10:42
November 2, 2007 4:00 AM PDT
Leopard early adopters suffer for the rest of us
Posted by Tom Krazit
C/Net

I can't decide whether early adopters are saints or fools.

Mac OS X Leopard, the latest version of Apple's operating system, turns one week old today. An estimated 9 percent of the Mac OS X installed base had already signaled their intention to upgrade last weekend, and those numbers presumably grew by some degree over the last few days.
Most Leopard users seem satisfied. But there have been a fair amount of complaints from those who were first down the road to Leopard. Most are relatively minor, some were quite annoying, and a few raise questions about how Apple's operating system strategy might be different when it's time to ship the next release. The "blue screen" problem perhaps got the most attention because it made for a delightful comparison to the infamous Windows "blue screen of death," and because it was frustrating as hell for those who had gone through the entire installation process only to derail right at the end. MacFixIt is keeping a running tally of other problems reported with incompatible applications, wireless networking and .Mac accounts, and user accounts.

There was grumbling among some of the design geeks regarding the aesthetic choices made by Apple's designers, the new folder design appearing to take the brunt of the criticism. The whole debate about transparent docks or folder icons is a little beyond me, but I do think the wavy Stacks thing is a little off-putting, and some of the icons are more confusing now than in Tiger.

And some in the developer community, most audibly Java developers, are up in arms over Apple's failure to include support for Java 6 in Leopard. They see it as another example of Apple's iron-fisted control over its developers, in that the company assumed the Father Knows Best role even though Java 6 is the latest and greatest version of that development environment.

Can you compare Leopard's first week to Tiger's, or perhaps (if you're in a sardonic mood) to Vista's? There certainly was no Leopard-related disaster, and if you measure it by sales, it was a success. As I read all of the reviews, nits, and obsequious literary odes to Leopard trotted out over the past week, I kept coming back to a few things.

First of all, the point I referenced in the opening: let's give thanks to the early adopters, however masochistic they may be. You can do all the QA in the world before releasing an operating system, and it's not going to compare to what happens when the unwashed masses get their hands on the product.

Microsoft's Windows Vista had years of developer releases, and was released to manufacturing several weeks before it went on sale to the general public. Still, compatibility problems cropped up because it's extremely difficult to anticipate what people are running, and in what combination. It's easier for Apple because it tightly controls its hardware and software, and because there are fewer potential combinations in the wild, but it's still a Herculean task.

Those people willing to be first-on-their-block with an operating system bear a disproportionate brunt of the slings and arrows to identify the problems that will be fixed in time for the rest of us. But did they go through more pain than was necessary?

Leopard had already been delayed several months to make way for the iPhone. The last-minute removal of some features promised for Leopard, such as Time Machine support for external hard drives plugged into a wireless router, could have been a signal that Apple was hard-pressed to make the late October deadline for Leopard.... Much More    Comment in the Forums
 

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