Geez, It's Almost A Mac! (1/11/01)

Hey, in the heady rush of all that good stuff that came spilling off the stage during the keynote, we've yet to mention our reaction to the changes to Mac OS X that Steve demonstrated. Basically, if we have to pick a word, we're going to go with "yippee." Seasoned testers who have been living with the public beta's little shortcomings for the past few months know what we mean; while even the beta was a stunning piece of work, certain aspects of it were frustrating to the point of exhaustion. Seeing evidence that those "issues" have been addressed makes us feel like proud parents watching their kid learn to eat food instead of smearing it all over his head.

Because there were definitely certain things about the beta that were analogous to rubbing various soft foodstuffs into one's scalp. The lack of AirPort support, in particular, kept us tied to an Ethernet cable while using the beta-- a fate we didn't suffer gladly after having tasted the sweet, sweet freedom of wireless 'net access. The new Finder windows took up way too much space. Folders in the Dock lacked any sort of hierarchical menu ability, and so were definitely no replacement for Mac OS 9's tabbed Finder windows. The font configuration panel was so oversized it was evidently optimized for use only on an Apple Cinema Display. We miss the Control Strip's quick and easy access to basic system settings. Restarting after any networking config change is so Windows. And just what is up with the centered, not-a-menu Apple menu?

Just about all of those gripes have been fixed, though; MacAddict's got a nice rundown of Mac OS X's ongoing progression. AirPort support is in, as is better printing support and the all-important Location Manager. The new Finder window toolbars are much smaller-- and the shortcut icons are "configurizable." (Okay, Steve.) You can now click and hold on items in the Dock for pop-up hierarchical menus; it's not a perfect solution, but it's pretty darn nifty (assuming that dragging items onto Docked folders triggers the pop-ups, too). The font panel is smaller, and can be made positively tiny. Certain system settings are now configurable right on the Dock. Dynamic networking changes appear to have been restored. And the Apple menu is back where it should be-- and it's actually a menu again.

All told, that's some pretty hefty progress, and we're anxiously awaiting the magical March 24th release date so we can give it a spin ourselves. Now if they'd just make a vertical Dock orientation a supported option. Oh, and find a way to keep the Dock from blocking the resize widget in the bottom right corner of windows...

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The above scene was taken from the 1/11/01 episode:

January 11, 2001: If you're wondering why Apple's new consumer applications require professional hardware, just wait a while. Meanwhile, Mac OS X is really starting to grow past that awkward "public beta" stage, and Steve is privy to the mysterious new invention called "Ginger" that promises to change the world as we know it...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 2790: Burning For The Rest Of Us (1/11/01)   Timing can be a real bummer, you know that? For instance, take Apple's stunning new "killer apps" revealed on Tuesday. First there's iTunes, one remarkably slick suite of audio functions done up in a tightly integrated, nice-looking package...

  • 2792: Steve, Ginger, And Tyranny (1/11/01)   Oh, sure, the incurable skeptics among you scoffed when we expounded at length about Steve Jobs and his master plans for world domination, but who's laughing now? You all got completely taken in by his "oh, I'm just an enthusiastic tech guy with a stunning fashion sense" act, and utterly failed to account for the Steve lurking beneath that happy-go-lucky exterior-- the Steve that is suppressed when the cameras are rolling and the fans are watching...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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