Leopard's Certainly no Microsoft 'Vista 2.0'
Apple's Windows Focus Wrong Comparison for its Latest, Greatest OS


by Joe Leo, Columnist


OPINION: 3.26.08-- Today marks the, if anybody's keeping track, pseudo-"fifth" anniversary (really five months) of Apple's big cat's release: Mac OS X version 10.5, also known better as its code name, Leopard. In only five days into its foray out into the wild, 2 million copies were sold, outdoing its predecessor, the still popular Tiger 10.4. 150 days later, how is the big cat faring?

Is Leopard purring along, tame as its domesticated brethren, or is it still as finicky as any release of Microsoft's Windows operating system, making it a true "Vista 2.0"?

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First let's start out with Apple's biggest marketing mistake--in my humble opinion (though I love it to death)--with Mac OS X in recent years when they started the whole "Redmond, start your photocopiers" or the "Introducing Vista 2.0" campaign prior to the official releases of Tiger and Leopard, respectively.

Granted, it wasn't an official advertising campaign, but rather a poking fun at its rival during WWDC (the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference) 2004 and 2006.

It's like Apple was shooting itself in the foot because to say that Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows Vista, is a copy of Tiger or the next generation of Vista ("Introducing Vista 2.0") is like saying Pepsi is Coke. Or Star Wars is the same as Star Trek. I think you get it.

Speaking of shooting oneself in the foot, I am totally guilty of that by, in essence, considering Leopard to be just that-- "Vista 2.0." What's that you say?

I never got a chance to publish these thoughts prior to this--I intended to in a feature story / commentary piece late last year but never got around to doing so--but I was not a fan of Leopard when I tested it out at the Apple Store the night I covered its launch at the flagship store in San Francisco. And it's a good thing I didn't, though I'll share a bit of it now.

I really felt, like the great Walt Mossberg before me (and everyone else before me, everyone more famous than me, which equals everyone?) that, "...it is an evolutionary, not a revolutionary, release..." but contrary to his belief that it was better than Windows Vista, I actually started comparing it as being similar to Vista.

Yeah, go ahead and shoot me now. But wait just a second... hold your fire!

My notion came from, and I did say this here on these pages, that Apple was seemingly designing Leopard not for us long-time Mac users, but for PC users coming over from the dark side. Beaming up from the next quadrant. Take the iTunes-like interface of the redesigned Sidebar, um, and then, Cover Flow? It smelled of the whole iPod "halo effect" theory.

And that's what really turned me off. Instead of making the next release of Mac OS X revolutionary, like the jump from System 7.5 to Mac OS 8, and then from that to the revolutionary Mac OS 9 (and then the huge leap we're currently at), it seemed like a let down. A kind of downgrade of sorts. Like Vista users going back to Windows XP.

As I said in my feature article on the day of Leopard's release itself (not coverage of the event, but a lead-up to it), the last thing Apple needs is for Leopard to look like Vista, or, not much different from Tiger.


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