Opinion

Who will upgrade when Leopard comes?


Now, I'm not going to talk about users like myself and those who visit this website here. We know we're all going to upgrade to Leopard by one way or another. Rather, I sit to speculate about the "normal" people. Will they upgrade?

My short answer is: No. Leopard simply offers nothing that people have been craving for since Panther. At least, nothing that we know of having seen so many screenshots and videos of Leopard posted on this very website. You see, Panther was this excellent OS that Apple released in 2003 and if you gave me a Panther computer to use today, I could do so comfortably and without wanting to use most of the features that Tiger provides. I couldn't do that with any version before Panther because key technologies like Exposé and Fast User Switching are missing.

Spotlight? Well, Panther does have live searching like iTunes even though it might not be instantenous and I honestly preferred Panther's simpler results window. Dashboard? Konfabulator might not be as fast or snappy, but it's there and it works if you need the functionality. Once those two main features are out of the way, let me say that the Tiger-to-Leopard transition will actually introduce more of those "little features that make your life easier" than the Panther-to-Tiger transition did. Also, most people do not use Tiger-only features like Automator.

Add to that the fact that Panther runs significantly faster on older hardware such as my G4. Also, apart from the fact that most Mac applications today place 10.3.9 as their minimum requirement and not 10.4, and you're not exactly left out as in the case of pre-Panther OS's, which didn't support features like Cocoa Bindings. Even Apple's brand new packages like iLife '06, iWork '06 and iTunes 6 will work on Panther, which speaks a great deal. The only major piece of software that I use that won't run on Panther is Final Cut Studio 5, though I admit I could just as well use version 4 and not notice the difference, since I use less than 1 percent of FCS's features anyway. All in all, Panther is an extremely usable operating system and most people I know who got it with their Macs are still using it, and have next to nothing to gain by upgrading to Tiger.

So why would they upgrade to Leopard? I don't think they would. There's a huge base of people who will, and these are not just "Mac enthusiasts" like myself but also "enthusiastic Mac users" and I know quite a few of them. Those people who just use the computer as a tool to get things done have no need to upgrade to Leopard. These are the people who prefer to keep their workflow stable. They haven't even begun using Exposé - so they have no use for Spaces or Core Animation. (I honestly couldn't use Spaces much myself.) These are people like my parents. They just want things to work. They want their apps to launch everyday without trouble, save their files without corruption, print whichever files they want to and chat with their loved ones whenever they like. All this is possible in Panther. And some old computers, like this G4, simply don't run as well on Tiger as they did on Panther, so it just makes sense.

Also, although the G3-using community might be small, let me just say that they are definitely not going to upgrade to Leopard because they simply cannot. Leopard won't have it.

Unfortunately, from all that we've heard and seen about Leopard upto this point, nothing points to it being even close to revolutionary in any way, and although it'll be a solid upgrade, I don't think we'll see a mass adoption by the Tiger-using population. Once I see some further developments (as in, I'm sure it'll be previewed again in Macworld 2007), I might decide on whether I'm going to buy it or acquire it. 

Comments (12) Posted on at  

  • » I think for Tiger and especially for Leopard, it will be the new machine sales. That is how I went to Tiger. It was one of the many things that helped me decide to get a new Mac (not to mention faster processors).
  • » "I might decide on whether I'm going to buy it or acquire it."

    Wha?! Piracy?... Shocking! If you want it enough to acquire it, you might as well buy it. :P

    I'm pretty sure there are some major user features yet to be seen.
  • » 1) big features havent been announced (i honestly dont think leopard is "only" that. Wait until the final release.

    2) leopard will be lot more optimized for intel, which means faster and more efficient OS

    3) those with core 2 will see the real power of 64 bit, audio-image-scientific stuff will notice that change, as they already have on other 64 bit processors. And with the technologies that leopard brings, it will be amazing.

    for me those are reasons to upgrade, plus the thing to come.

    i would wait before making a full review on to upgrade or not to.
  • » Generally, it's not a very good idea to install software that is a lot newer than the hardware. For instance, when I got my iBook four years ago it came with Jaguar and I didn't upgrade it to Tiger (like my Powerbook) because I had to be able to test with Panther back then. That's no longer the case but I don't see much reason to upgrade now. Everything works fine on that iBook, realistically, it can only get worse.

    I think the new backup stuff may be worth an upgrade to Leopard for the Powerbook, but it's a toss-up. But the better 64-bit support on 64-bit hardware and (hopefully) resolution independence on screens with a higher resolution than the 100 dpi we had until a year or two ago would be good resons to upgrade as well but those don't apply to my Powerbook.
  • » I couldn't live without Spotlight on a Mac. And my G4/500 works faster with 10.4 than with 10.3. I'd be surprised if 10.5 didn't improve performance at least marginally, especially for Spotlight, and Automator.

    Automator's ability in 10.5 to record mouse clicks and keyboard strokes will mean anyone can use it for any task. This will be a productivity boon to people *working* with a Mac and will easily compensate for the cost of 10.5.

    WRT iLife '06, iWork '06 all running on 10.3. Don't forget the digits "06" in their title. I'd be extremely surprised if iLife and iWork '07 didn't leverage 10.5 features. They will be released close together and I'd suspect iLife and iWork '07 will require 10.4 or greater. If you continue with 10.3 then you won't buy iLife/iWork '07 and you will feel some need to upgrade.
  • » One important point is that between 10.3 and 10.5, we are seeing a lot of progress in the APIs. Everyday people obviously don't give a damn about this, but once that new application they want requires 10.4 or 10.5, they will upgrade.

    From my perspective, many of my friends at Uni bought Macs for the first time somewhere in the 10.3 lifecycle. None of them (other than me) have upgraded. It's only those who have bought new machines since that are on 10.4.

    However, I think the additional features of 10.5 will make them consider it far more seriously.
  • » I'll second that we don't know all of what's in Leopard, and between now and early 2007 is a long time in both development and marketing activities. A lot can still happen, and I hope it will.
  • » Oh, come on. Leopard r0x0rs! And Tiger was waaaaaay better than Panther. Waaaay better. Frankly, Panther's search function seemed too complex. And also, Konfabulator is all well and good, but, Dashboard is just better. Way better. So, I dunno what you mean by "people not wanting to upgrade to Leopard". I mean, the WWDC crowd LOVED it!
  • » Tiger was the most successful OS X release yet, so clearly a lot of people don't think Panther was good enough as argued in the article. I'll challenge the last paragraph and say that OS X Leopard will follow the trend of every OS X release and be even more successful than Tiger was.
  • » I evaluated a copy of Tiger for awhile and decided to go with the copy of Panther that came with my system and find myself quite happy with Panther's core set of features much like this articles talks about - I just didn't find any Tiger features that useful.

    now I have to admit being a huge share/free/open source user - I find plenty of circumstances where 10.4 is required - not enough to complain though.

    where i definitely disagree is I'm looking quite forward to Leopard - I think time machine will be a big saver and being a tvwm user in a past life, Spaces will most certainly be welcome! iChat's sharing features, while can definitely be implemented other ways - does look like a breath of fresh air from a collaboration standpoint.

    I certainly will heed the warning in regards to using Leopard on a "classic" mini - so we'll just have to see what happens when it gets released!
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