Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted from
McCracken’s First Law of Contrarian Operating System Punditry—which I just made named, but have long believed—states that it’s good news when an OS is delayed. What rational computer user, after all, would prefer to buy and use a product when even its own developer doesn’t think it’s ready for prime time?
I’ve often expressed that sentiment when Microsoft’s Windows ship dates have slip-slided away, so it’s only consistent to cut Apple the same slack. I’m a little startled by the company’s announcement that it’s
delaying Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard until October
to wrap up work on the
iPhone. But I’m OK with the decision—and even though I’m looking forward to getting
for my MacBook, I’ll happily bide my time until Apple thinks the OS is fully baked.
From everything we know about Leopard so far—and it’s possible, or even likely, that we don’t know everything—it looks to be a pleasant but reasonably minor update, with one known knockout new feature, the
Time Machine continuous-backup system. (Which, incidentally, I could have used last month—I had a hard-drive crash on my Mac and lost some vacation photos which I hadn’t safely preserved anywhere else.)
To me, the big news about the Leopard delay isn’t the delay itself. It’s the fact that it feels like one more piece of evidence that the Mac, which was Apple’s flagship product for a couple of decades, may be suffering from a lack of full corporate attention in the era of the iPod, iPhone, and
So far, it’s been the quietest of years for the Mac platform. There have been plenty of rumors about cool new Macs, but no actual new systems (OK, one minor upgrade:
the eight-core Mac Pro
). The MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac Mini lines, while all nifty in their own ways, are also pretty darn familiar; Apple’s a company whose very DNA involves releasing noticeably new and different machines pretty frequently, and the time has surely come for a genuinely interesting new Mac or two. But you gotta wonder whether Apple will release ’em as Tiger machines, or wait until they can ship with Leopard.
There were also rumors about an upgrade to
that was supposed to show up at
in January; the iPhone did, but iLife didn’t. And now Leopard won’t be a reality until Fall.
Meanwhile, new iPods big and small have continued to appear; the Apple TV showed up; and the iPhone is apparently on schedule for its June debut. I was already sort of wondering whether Apple had taken its eye off the Mac ball, so to speak, to concentrate on other efforts; with the Leopard announcement, it’s essentially admitted that it did so.
We may be in the midst of a Macintosh news drought, but it won’t, of course, last forever. There will be new Macs, and an iLife upgrade, and presumably some noteworthy stuff that only Steve Jobs and his secretive minions know about just now. And it would be pretty darn surprising if Leopard is the only major Mac item that arrives in 2007.
Like I say, I’ll cheerfully wait until products are truly done to get my hands on them… but that isn’t stopping me from wondering what’s on the way for Mac fans, and when it’ll all show up….
Harry McCracken is
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