Can the new "Longhorn" due out early next year from Microsoft keep up? I'm not a MacIntosh user, but it sounds great!
'Tiger' roars into stores
New Mac operating system goes on sale Friday
Thursday, April 28, 2005 Posted: 11:12 PM EDT (0312 GMT)
(AP) -- Tired of waiting while your computer slowly scours its hard drive for a document you stashed somewhere six months ago?
Sick of having to change how you work to conform with the computer's rigid way of organizing files?
Bored with the flat look of the desktop's graphics?
If you have a Macintosh computer, or plan to buy one, those issues have been tackled. They're addressed in the latest update of Mac OS X, dubbed "Tiger," which goes on sale Friday.
Despite a much smaller user base, Mac OS X has been steps ahead of Microsoft's Windows on key fronts since its first release in 2001.
It's got more advanced and polished graphics. It's less prone to malicious attacks. And Macs look better than nearly all Windows PCs.
Until recently, Apple has been dogged by a reputation for high prices. Its computers now start at $499, and the number of programs that run on them has grown dramatically. Tiger provides another incentive to switch from Windows.
Topping the list of 200 or so improvements in Tiger is a built-in search tool that goes a long way toward relieving one of the biggest headaches that's plagued computers.
That is, as hard drive capacity grows and our digital universe broadens to include text, music, video, e-mail, pictures and everything else, information gets lost in the shuffle of folders scattered across gigabytes of hard drive real estate.
Operating systems have been designed to pigeonhole that data into a hierarchy of folders.
But what if a document, song or picture fits into five or six different categories, each with its own folder? If you choose one, how will you remember it a year from now?
Tiger addresses both problems with a search technology, called Spotlight, that also enables a new way of organization, called Smart Folders.
Accessed by clicking small magnifying glass icon, search results fill in as you type keywords. Spotlight doesn't just search filenames.
It also looks inside files -- into a document's text, a picture caption or tags linked to a music file, for instance.
And Spotlight's speed is impressive.
Like the desktop search tools available on Windows PCs from Yahoo, Google and MSN, Spotlight relies on an index that's created when it's first installed.
Instead of having to scour an entire drive in search of something, it just looks it up in the database.
Indexing with Windows add-ons is a more computer-intensive process.
Most are smart enough to do their work only when you're not working on something, but that means new information isn't always available.
After the initial index is built in Tiger, changes are made to it whenever a file is changed -- whether it's saved, deleted, moved or modified in another way.
And there's more. Searches can be saved and the results turned into folders that run a query each time they're opened, fine-tuned to display only certain types of files. Time variables can also be set.
Spotlight only searches for files on the local computer, not networked hard drives or remote shared folders.
Network file searching is something that's expected in Microsoft's upcoming next-generation operating system for Windows, code-named Longhorn, and Apple hasn't ruled it out as a future feature.
Tiger -- like previous versions of Mac OS X -- also sets the bar high in the graphics display area.
In its "Dashboard," small programs called "Widgets" overlay the screen at the punch of a button -- displaying the weather, stock prices, flight information and calendar info. More can be added, and they pop open with a rippling flourish.
But Tiger is about a lot more than look and feel. It's also about looking at more people than ever on your video screen live.
With Apple's iSight camera ($149) and Tiger's new built-in iChat AV program, you can set up and participate in video conferences with 10 people.
It's visually stunning, with each person showing up in a panel, their animated faces reflecting against a black background.
Of course, it's impossible to judge how Tiger will compare with the next-generation of Windows, since Longhorn isn't available.
As more details come out, additional complaints of Microsoft copying Mac OS X will surely be heard.
Both Apple and Microsoft are trying to address the same problems: sifting more quickly through more and more data.
The onus is now on Bill Gates & Co. to see if it can one-up Steve Jobs' shop.