Sunday, October 28, 2007

Leopard: The ratings

In order to help you decide if Leopard is worth your buck, I have decided to rate this new OS from Apple, using what I call the "Finder heads"!

I don’t believe in one single rating, especially for such a major product like this, because different users come from different backgrounds and hence will come to different conclusions as to how good Leopard is (this is what I said in my podcast). Some users wanting to use Leopard might be PC users, or existing Mac users, and these two groups of consumers will come to rate Leopard very differently, thus one rating just isn’t sufficient.

Broadly, I can classify users wanting to purchase Leopard into 4 groups:

1) Existing Mac users (OS X 10.4 “Tiger”)
2) Longtime Windows XP users
3) Windows Vista users
4) Generic Linux users (e.g. Ubuntu, Linspire)

Now let’s rate Leopard based on these 4 main categories, and you’ll realise, my ratings would be very different!

For existing Mac users (OS X 10.4 “Tiger”)
2.5/5. I’ve said before, Leopard is a minor upgrade and if you’re currently using Tiger, Leopard isn’t going to be wham-bang fantastic and all that worthy of praise. Other than a few new important features like Time Machine and a revised Finder (and maybe Stacks), the rest are just minor upgrades and appearance changes, such as the new Dock. You’ll find that forking out S$238 is a bit pricey, and life would still go on even without Leopard. If I’m generous, 3/5. Nothing more than that.

For longtime Windows XP users
5/5. Flawless. If you’re still on XP, and you switch to the dark side and take up Leopard, you’d be wondering why didn’t you switch earlier and rescue yourself from the countless security and reliability issues associated XP. To any XP user, Leopard is quite clearly superior in almost every way. The UI’s stunning, the platform is as secure as can be (because it’s unix), there are little problems, blue screens or error messages popping up now and then, and it’s so simple and easy to use! So for that, Leopard thoroughly deserves a perfect 5.

For Windows Vista users
3.5/5. This is a little more tricky… I was contemplating between a 3.5 or a 4, because some features in Leopard are actually found in Vista, such as Time Machine, which is actually similar in concept to Previous Versions in Vista, and also the parental controls stuff… But Apple has sort of made things look way cooler than in Vista. For example, Time Machine looks so much cooler than Previous Versions, so based on that, you might want to slap a 4/5 on Leopard, but purely from a feature standpoint, I think a 3.5 would be more realistic.

For generic Linux users (Ubuntu, Linspire etc.)
4/5. In terms of security (viruses/online threats), many Linux systems and distributions are about as secure as Leopard, because Mac OS and Linux are built on the same, rock-solid unix foundation, with Leopard being closed source but most Linux offerings being open source.

Leopard is superior to Linux in that it is more polished and mature, and the UI seems more coherent and pleasant as compared to, say, the colourful and amateurish KDE desktop environment. Compatibility should be better on a Mac than on Linux too, and of course, you don’t need to deal with codes and weird gibberish for you to run/install Leopard. Furthermore, because Leopard is proprietary software, you will have long term support from Apple and can be assured of constant quality software updates. On Linux, not all systems are LTS, and many assume a higher level of technical know-how on the part of the user, so Linux is for the geeks, but Leopard is for the rest of us.

I hope these few figures will give you a clearer picture of Leopard. In general, if I rate this thing 4 "Finder heads" and above, this product is absolutely worth your money and is a must-get! I give a 3-3.5 heads, then it's an average product. If you see less than 3 heads, think twice before paying!

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