I’ve been a reader of Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows for the past 7 years. When I was a Windows user, I enjoyed reading the latest about the new releases of Windows that were coming up, and as a Mac user, I still continued to read those articles with interest. But, also as a Mac user, I found that his negativity about Mac OS X has a bit more bias than fact in it (worse than JCD, but not as bad as Mary-Jo Foley who has no facts at all). Before I go further, Paul isn’t a total Apple hater – he likes his iPhone and does have a Mac.
The problem I have at the moment is his latest article about Snow Leopard. Entitled Quick Take : Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard”, he gives a brief overview of what he thinks of this update to Apple’s OS. The only problem is, it’s not really accurate from what I know of existing features in Mac OS X, and things I have seen about Snow Leopard, as well as what I’ve experienced with Vista and 7.
Following are the reasons that I have a problem with Paul’s article.
One, Paul likens 10.6 to a service pack, and says that it shouldn’t be charged for, but Apple is Apple and they will take your money whenever they can. He then says that Mac users will bash Microsoft for charging so much more for Windows 7. Well, Paul, there’s a reason for this bashing. 10.6 is as much a service pack as Windows 7 is to Vista, and I say this because the changes are of the same calibre between both. They both had important and numerous refinements to the kernel and underlying systems, and they both had changes to the interface (although less obvious at first glance on Snow Leopard, but they are there and there are plenty too). If you think that 10.6 should be 10.5.9, then Windows 7 should be Vista R2. Remember, even the full price for Snow Leopard is much less than Windows 7 Home Premium (which, I might add, isn’t even on par with OS X on a feature basis).
Secondly, Paul’s understanding of Exposé seems to be extremely limited. Far from being a power-user feature that required the keyboard (and note – a specially labelled function key on the keyboard), but hot corners could easily be set up to use the mouse to activate it (I know plenty of n00bs that worked this out for themselves). Also, by default, if the user squeezes the Apple Mighty Mouse (it’s awkward to do though), Exposé will be activated. I, myself, am a heavy keyboard user, and so using the keyboard to activate Exposé is not an issue for me.
Thirdly, also related to Exposé, is Paul’s statement, “… Exposé has been improved to work with individual applications, just like the taskbar preview feature in Windows 7. That is, you can now access each open window of any running application using Exposé via the Mac OS X Dock. It’s a great feature, and it’s hard to imagine using it otherwise.” It might not be obvious from this quote, but in context, it seemed to me that Paul thought that Apple copied Microsoft on this (I don’t think any copying was done on either side). Although the part about activating it from the Dock is new, application-specific Exposé has existed since Exposé first appeared in 2003. That’s 6 years ago! (be aware, that the Taskbar thumbnail method is the only way to isolate an application’s windows in Windows, and there is still no keyboard shortcut to switch between windows of a particular application as there is in OS X).
Fourthly, Exchange support in Snow Leopard DOES have automatic configuration (a.k.a. Autodiscovery). However, you need to enable that on the Exchange server. See here for details.
Fifthly, he seems to think that QuickLook is new in Snow Leopard and that activating it with a spacebar is really dumb. No, QuickLook debuted in Leopard, and the spacebar is a really convenient way to activate it. It’s so easy and nice to use that I use it all the time, and get irritated by it’s absence on any OS X version prior to Leopard or on Windows. Paul did know of the existence of QuickLook in Leopard, but said in his Leopard review it was a copy of a Windows feature (which I’ve never ever seen), and that it was “flamboyant and over the top”. How can such a useful and must-have feature be over the top?
The last issue I had was to do with the side bar in Finder being harder to add items to than to Windows 7’s Navigation Pane (heard of drag-drop, which is a core part of using a mouse on Mac OS X?). Well, it sure is easier to add a Library (similar, but not quite like a Smart Folder) to the Navigation pane; one just needs to click the New Library button and then configure it (how? I haven’t looked into that one, but an unconfigured Library is useless as far as I know). But, what if I want to add a folder to my favourites, quickly and easily? Oh, it’s the same way as on the Mac, drag and drop (alternatively, navigate to the folder you want to add, and then right-click Favorites, and select Add current location to the favorites, or whatever it is. That to me is more complex).
All this said, I have to agree with a couple of things that Paul has said. One is the cryptic installation routine, especially for doing a clean install (not very Apple-esque if you as me), and that the icon previews in OS X are a bit worthless (I’m a heavy QuickLook user, but don’t see myself using the mouse just to activate an icon preview). Nevertheless, I think he needs to do a little bit more looking around before he goes posting such things.
Others have written similar articles today about Snow Leopard, as pointed out at this link: http://thesmallwave.com/2009/08/26/windows-7-vs-snow-leopard-infoworld-and-others-out-for-a-troll-expect-more/
This may be of interest to those reading (it also mentions the Paul Thurrott article).