Mac Industry Heeds Tigers Roar

Developers, dealers and analysts say the new features in Mac OS X 10.4 will put it paces ahead of Microsoft's yet-to-be-released Longhorn operating system. But how much will the halo effect aid the Macintosh software industry?

Developers, dealers and analysts have given a strong welcome to Mac OS X 10.4, aka Tiger, announced by Apple Computer on Tuesday.

The update, which introduces a slew of new features including a new search engine called Spotlight and revamped versions of core applications including Safari and Mail, is set to be released at the end of the month.

Joe Wilcox, senior analyst at Jupiter Research, pointed to the potential advantages that Tiger delivers in Apples battle against Longhorn, Microsofts next-generation operating system due for release sometime in 2006.

With the first Longhorn beta due for delivery this summer, Wilcox described Tiger as "better than a pre-emptive strike [against Longhorn]."

"Both Apple and Microsoft started talking about metadata at around the same time, yet Apple is delivering on that now—while Microsoft may not deliver at all."

Wilcox also highlighted Spotlight as a potential opportunity for Apple Computer Inc. to take a technological leap over Microsoft Corp. "The file/folder metaphor is tired, and search is a much more natural approach for many users. If you want to group together your photos, videos and other files related to a trip, then searching for them is much smarter than having to remember to file them in the right place."

/zimages/2/28571.gifRead more here about the three technologies behind Spotlight.

However, despite these features in Tiger, Wilcox said Apple has little hope of gaining much traction in the enterprise market. "Theres a lot of resistance to upgrading in the corporate market—44 percent of companies still run Windows NT servers, for example—which provides a lot of resistance to Apple. But there is an opportunity in the small and midsized business [SMB] market, where there tends to be less IT staff—and its an opportunity that Apples increasingly aware of."

Figures in the Mac software industry gave Tigers release a warm welcome. Kevin Doorley, managing director at software distributor Softline, said the announcement will have a positive overall effect on the Mac software market.

"Theres always a halo effect from any major release and marketing push—and the clever developers will take advantage of that. A new OS release from Apple opens up a lot of upgrade opportunities, so its generally beneficial to the software industry as a whole," he added.

Jonathan Cole, chairman of Computer Warehouse, one of the largest Mac resellers in the United Kingdom, added his voice to the overall approval of Tigers release. "Major Mac OS releases tend to be good for the rest of the Mac market, as well as for Apple, as it increases interest in the platform," he said.

Next Page: Developers weigh in on Tiger.