Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Review: Mac Os X steps ahead of Windows

Filed under
Mac
Reviews

Tired of waiting while your PC slowly scours its hard drive for a document you stashed somewhere six months ago? Sick of having to change how you work to conform with the computer's rigid way of organizing files? Bored with the flat look of the desktop's graphics?

Microsoft's next-generation operating system for Windows, code-named Longhorn, is supposed to address such digital woes. It may even be released in time for Christmas 2006.

But if you've got a Macintosh computer, or plan to buy one, those issues have been tackled. They're amply addressed in the latest update of Mac OS X, dubbed "Tiger," goes on sale Friday.

Despite a much smaller user base, Mac OS X has been steps ahead of Windows on key fronts since its first release in 2001. It's got more advanced and polished graphics. It's less prone to malicious attacks. And Macs look better than nearly all Windows PCs.

Until recently, Apple has been dogged by a reputation for high prices. Its computers now start at $499, and the number of programs that run on them has grown dramatically. Tiger provides another excellent incentive to switch from Windows.

I've been trying out Tiger on a borrowed an iMac G5 and my own dual-processor Power Mac G4. New Mac users will get it with their systems; existing customers must pay $129 for the upgrade. (The update was simple, taking about an hour.)

Topping the list of 200 or so improvements in Tiger is a built-in search tool that goes a long way toward relieving one of the biggest headaches that's plagued computers.

That is, as hard drive capacity grows and our digital universe broadens to include text, music, video, e-mail, pictures and everything else, information gets lost in the shuffle of folders scattered across gigabytes of hard drive real estate.

Operating systems have been designed to pigeonhole that data into a hierarchy of folders. But what if a document, song or picture fits into five or six different categories, each with its own folder? If you choose one, how will you remember it a year from now?

Tiger addresses both problems with a search technology, called Spotlight, that also enables a new way of organization, called Smart Folders.

Accessed by clicking small magnifying glass icon, search results fill in as you type keywords. Spotlight doesn't just search filenames. It also looks inside files - into a document's text, a picture's caption or tags linked to a music file, for instance.

Spotlight's speed, even on my older Power Mac, is impressive. Results were on target, too.

Like the desktop search tools available on Windows PCs from Yahoo, Google and MSN, Spotlight relies on an index that's created when it's first installed. Instead of having to scour an entire drive in search of something, it just looks it up in the database.

Indexing with Windows add-ons is a more computer-intensive process. Most are smart enough to do their work only when you're not working on something, but that means new information isn't always available. I have also found their range of files to be limited.

After the initial index is built in Tiger, changes are made to it whenever a file is changed - whether it's saved, deleted, moved or modified in another way. I noticed no performance hit and, despite my repeated attempts to trick it, Spotlight never missed a file change.

I actually found myself using Spotlight to launch programs.

And there's more. Searches can be saved and the results turned into folders that run a query each time they're opened, fine-tuned to display only certain types of files. Time variables can also be set.

There is room for some improvement, however.
Spotlight only searches for files on the local computer, not networked hard drives or remote shared folders. Network file searching is something that's expected in Longhorn, and Apple hasn't ruled it out as a future feature.

Tiger - like previous versions of Mac OS X - also sets the bar high in the graphics display area.

In its "Dashboard," small programs called "Widgets" overlay the screen at the punch of a button. They such display information as the weather, stock prices, flight information and calendar info. More can be added, and they pop open with a rippling flourish.

But Tiger is about a lot more than look and feel. It's also about looking at more people than ever on your video screen live.

With Apple's iSight camera ($149) and Tiger's new built-in iChat AV program, you can set up and participate in video conferences with 10 people. It's visually stunning, with each person showing up in a panel, their animated faces reflecting against a black background.

Of course, it's impossible to judge how Tiger will compare with the next-generation of Windows since Longhorn isn't available.
As more details come out, additional complaints of Microsoft copying Mac OS X will surely be heard.

Both Apple and Microsoft are trying to address the same problems: sifting more quickly through more and more data. The onus is now on Bill Gates & Co. to see if it can one-up Steve Jobs' shop.

MATTHEW FORDAHL
Associated Press

More in Tux Machines

Linux Devices

  • MediaTek Announces An Interesting Deca-Core ARM Dev Board
    The folks at MediaTek in Hsinchu announced the Helio X20 Development Board today as the first development board using a tri-cluster, deca-core design. As implied by the name, this developer board is using the Helio X20 SoC, which features a tri-cluster CPU architecture and ten processing cores: two Cortex-A72 at 2.3GHz, four Cortex-A53 cores @ 2.0GHz, and four Cortex-A53 cores at 1.4GHz. Depending upon system load, the relevant/needed cores will power up. The X20 uses ARM's Mali graphics, supports 2 x LPDDR3 POP memory, and has integrated 802.11ac WiFi.
  • Voice control your embedded systems with 20 lines of software code
    Speech recognition software technology provider Sensory is offering TrulyHandsfree SDK to embed voice enabled functions in your embedded systems software. TrulyHandsfree SDK supports fixed triggers, user enrolled triggers and commands phrase spotting technology.
  • No SSD Storage On Raspberry Pi 3? Try MinnowMax Turbot Board
    The fact that you can not use an SSD storage device with the Raspberry Pi is a huge drawback. Devices that use the Raspberry pie consume a lot of storage. Devices like drones etc could use the onboard SSD storage. Too bad that the Raspberry pi 3 does not support it. But no worries have you head of the MinnowMax Turbot board?

Server Administration

  • Why Container Skills Aren't a Priority in Hiring Open Source Pros (Yet)
    It should come as no surprise that open source training and hiring is typically predicated on what skills are trending in tech. As an example, Big Data, cloud and security are three of the most in-demand skillsets today, which explains why more and more open source professionals look to develop these particular skillsets and why these professionals are amongst the most sought after. One skillset that employers have not found as useful as professionals is container management.
  • All Hail the New Docker Swarm
    Unfortunately, I’m not able to attend DockerCon US this year, but I will be keeping up with the announcements. As part of the Docker Captains program, I was given a preview of Docker 1.12 including the new Swarm integration which is Docker’s native clustering/orchestration solution (also known as SwarmKit, but that’s really the repo/library name). And it’s certainly a big change. In this post I’ll try to highlight the changes and why they’re important.
  • Apache Spark Creator Matei Zaharia Describes Structured Streaming in Spark 2.0 [Video]
    Apache Spark has been an integral part of Mesos from its inception. Spark is one of the most widely used big data processing systems for clusters. Matei Zaharia, the CTO of Databricks and creator of Spark, talked about Spark's advanced data analysis power and new features in its upcoming 2.0 release in his MesosCon 2016 keynote.

The heartbeat of open source projects can be heard with GitHub data

GitHub released charts last week that tell a story about the heartbeat of a few open source, giving insights into activity, productivity and collaboration of software development. Why are these important? Enterprises increasingly define software development as a top priority to gain competitive advantage or defend against disruption. They often turn to open source software because it is fast and agile. Enterprise IT decision makers should understand GitHub because it is the backbone of most open source projects. Read more

Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator: Lorenzo Paglia

The Linux Foundation offers many resources for developers, users, and administrators of Linux systems, including its Linux Certification Program. This program is designed to give you a way to differentiate yourself in a job market that's hungry for your skills. To illustrate how well these certifications prepare you for the real world, this series features some of those who have recently passed the certification exams. These testimonials should help you decide if either the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCS) or the Linux Foundation Certified Engineer (LFCE) certification is right for you. In this installment, we talk with LFCS Lorenzo Paglia. Read more