Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" unleashed
I finally received a copy of Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" and I've spent the last hours or so exploring new features in this latest revision. So far, I'm not overly impressed, considering the 18 months of development time. Here are some general first impressions:
Performance. Tiger is in most respects faster than Panther. Windows resize more smoothly, login time is noticably shorter, and Safari renders at blazing speed.
File representation. The contents of Finder windows are now always up to date -- if you create file via the command line, you won't have to suffer a delay of 3-4 seconds before it appears in the Finder window in question. This is an unquestionable improvement, but things could only get better.
Searching. The new Spotlight technology is nice and fast. However, it doesn't serve well as an application launcher (in the style of Quicksilver), and indexing the volume takes forever after the initial install. Strangely enough, it doesn't seem to cache search results, or at least not their presentation...
Screenshots. They're now in lossless PNG format, as opposed to PDF. Still no JPEG option, though...
Cool new apps. Automator, Grapher, Dictionary, and some nifty updates to the development tools.
Dashboard. What a pile of dung. Abandoning all user interface guidelines, Apple inflicts on us these silly, colourful widgets, each with their own peculiar (and rather uncomfortable) user interface. Then the damn things eat RAM like Adobe Photoshop on a good day...
Finder. Still a complete piece of shit. Gone downhill, if anything, from 10.3. It's slow, cumbersome and remains unable to remember window positions. Of course, it goes without saying that Apple still insists on those stupid metal file browser windows. On top of that, the "Always show file extension" option now also shows the .app extension on application bundles, in addition to extensions on regular files. Not a sensible move. With the introduction of the new Spotlight search windows into this mess, the confusion and chaos has reached an unacceptable level. Whoever is in charge of the Finder team should be summarily executed.
AirPort. The wireless tracker has gone from rock-solid to completely unreliable. It sometimes reports full wireless connectivity when I'm unable ping hosts, and often reports 3 or 4 bars when the connection is choppy.
Mail. The new Apple Mail client is an absolute user interface catastrophe. Gone is the accounts drawer, replaced by some kind of monstrous quasi-metal hybrid with translucent blue buttons. I don't know who thought of changing the admirable interface of the previous Mail client, but he should face the firing squad with his friend on the Finder team.
What the hell?
Safari. Version 2.0 is fast and sleek, but the metal remains. Removing the metal is, however, no longer as easy as it was in 10.3 -- you'll need SafariUnify, but even this utility does not give you the good old Aqua appearance. Rather, Safari gets the new hybrid theme introduced in Tiger. It's not so bad...
All in all, a worthwhile update, but disappointing in light of the development time involved. Perhaps toying with some of the under-the-hood stuff will make me appreciate this revision to a greater extent, but on the surface, it's rather a let-down.
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