Sunday, May 31, 2009

Wisdom from the flames - a different OS X future

Gizmodo had fun recently comparing Windows 7 buzz to the disinterest in OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard). The photo of a demonic Ballmer about to devour a sleeping Snow Leopard kitten should hang in his office.

It makes for lots of links and traffic, but I think there's a deeper lesson.

Windows 7, aka Vista 3.0 is very important. XP is decayed and too vulnerable to attack. Vista has gotten a bad rap and is not much used by businesses. Windows 7 will either be immensely successful or one of history's great corporations will go under. That deserves attention.

Snow Leopard? Ummm, tell me again why I need it?!

Sure, I love scalable UIs -- but I'm not sure that's in Snow Leopard and it should be an update to 10.5, not yet another big migration. Yes, 64 bit would be nice, but I can wait a few more years. We could do a lot with 4GB of memory if we were a wee bit less sloppy. I wouldn't mind putting those GPUs to use, but I suspect that need not require a big OS revision.

To be honest, I'm a bit tired. The 10.5 transition has not been a pleasant experience. There've been too many problems with OS bugs and hardware incompatibility. Too many parts of OS X 10.5, from iChat to accessibility to managed users to security usability (why can't one escalate privileges to modify a locked Dock?) need rework and finish.

I don't need 10.6. I don't want 10.6. I want Apple to pour a few millions in to making 10.5 better.

Ahh, but there's the rub. Apple needs to make money.

So here's my proposal to Apple.

Sure, keep working on 10.6. Maybe ship it this year if you need to, preferably ease off and wait until the summer of 2010. Meanwhile, find a way to make money off 10.5 updates. I don't know how Apple can fudge this and live within accounting rules, but there must be a way. Maybe Apple could bundle 10.5 enhanced with MobileMe, so that MobileMe subscribers get a steady stream of 10.5 fixes and improvements.

Please Apple, do something to make my life better. The current arrangement really ain't working that well for me.

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