Early Leopard Reviews: So Far, So Good.

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I wrote about a “first look” at Leopard earlier this week. Now the first wave of bona-fide Leopard reviews have come out, so let’s take a quick look.

The New York Times sums it up as this:

“Leopard is powerful, polished and carefully conceived. Happy surprises, and very few disappointments, lie around every corner. This Leopard has more than 300 new spots — and most of them are bright ones.”

Prior to the summation, however, the article notes something perhaps even better (at least to me):

“I pushed my system hard for a week using the final Leopard software, and encountered occasional glitches with Spaces, automated synching among Macs and switching programs. “

No matter how good an OS is, or how great the features are, first and foremost it must be stable. Sounds to me like it is in this case. The “occasional glitches” being no more than one may reasonable expect with a new OS.

Meanwhile, USA Today runs down most of the bigger features and concludes:

“These and other features should satisfy new and old Mac fans. Leopard is one cool cat.”

The article also states the following about the upgrade:

“I migrated to Leopard from the last OS X version, Tiger, without pain on a MacBook laptop and my own iMac desktop; there’s mercifully none of the software driver and other hassles associated with a Windows operating system upgrade.”

This is another thing I want to see: Painless upgrading. Again, no matter how cool it is it’s meaningless if I’m pulling my hair out getting it to install over my old OS.

The Wall Street Journal also gives it high marks:

“When I upgraded my personal iMac desktop to Leopard, it took less than an hour, and after the process was complete, all my programs, including the Mac version of Microsoft Office, the Firefox Web browser and Adobe Reader, worked rapidly and fine. I was still able to run Windows XP via Fusion. And my previous installation of Boot Camp, which turns the iMac into a speedy, full-fledged Vista machine after a reboot, worked perfectly. All my Vista programs and files continued to function properly.”

It’s good to see another quick and successful upgrade. The article also specifically mentions its great backward compatibility, even working with a much older HP printer. The article concludes:

“Leopard isn’t a must-have for current Mac owners, but it adds a lot of value. For new Mac buyers, it makes switching even more attractive.”

There is a common theme in all three reviews:

  • Leopard is evolutionary, not revolutionary. (I think we all knew that, though the combined effect of the OS upgrade is significant).
  • The upgrades went smoothly and seamlessly.
  • There were a few glitches found, but so far nothing major.
  • It provides great value.
  • The overall impression is very favorable.

Aside from the above, each review found some features they liked to dwell on more than others.

Contrast these reviews to the early (and, for that matter, current) Vista reviews. It’s not even close.

Look, it’s way too early to tell how Leopard will fare, or if major bugs are yet to be discovered, or some other issues are lurking below the surface. However, it certainly appears Leopard is going to — at the very least — avoid the initial major problems Vista had with a lack of drivers, instability, terrible performance, etc., some of which it has still not recovered from. At this early stage in the game (what I like to call Release Eve) that’s the best Apple could hope for.

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