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.”
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.
Developers described the release as positive, even when some of Tigers features compete directly with their own products. Brent Simmons, creator of the popular NetNewsWire RSS (Really Simple Syndication) reader for Mac OS X, welcomed the update to Safari Apples Web browser, which gains RSS reading capabilities in Tiger.
“I think [Tiger] will be good for NetNewsWire. Many people dont know about RSS and Atom yet: This will be their introduction. And a good percentage of people will want more features than Safaris reader provides. Including RSS in Safari also puts a kind of Apple seal of approval on the technology, which signals to people, Yes, RSS is cool, not just for geeks anymore, and you should use it. And thats great for NetNewsWire.”
Simmons also said some of the technologies in Tiger will greatly aid developers. In particular, Simmons praised Core Data, a new data model framework that simplifies managing data in applications.
“As a developer, my favorite feature is Core Data, which makes writing heavily data-oriented applications such as newsreaders easier. Im also looking forward to adding Automator support to my software, because its thrilling when people can take what weve done and build on it to create custom applications.”
Reid Conrad, CEO of collaborative software specialist Near-Time, echoed Simmons comments. “Apples addition of Spotlight in OS X Tiger will make diverse desktop content more accessible,” he said.
“By leveraging Spotlight, Near-Time Current and Flow users will be able to benefit from unprecedented integration of desktop- and Web-based information. And Safaris RSS support is a big win for users—RSS is quickly becoming a powerful content-transmission platform for our users.”
Conrad also highlighted the support for Weblogging built into the server version of Tiger as a potential plus point for both users and developers. “Our users are increasingly looking to use Weblogs for both public and private forms of collaboration. Near-Time Current and Flow users will support the Tiger Weblog resulting in seamless content publishing, and our support of RSS will allow users to automatically keep up with new Weblog content.”
Terence Goggin, chief technical officer at PocketMac Inc., highlighted the rewritten synchronization engine in Tiger as something that will directly affect his companys products, which synchronize PDAs and other handhelds with the Mac.
“We are particularly excited with the addition of sync services to Apples OS,” Goggin said. “Weve rewritten our PocketMac conduits to work within this structure. Whats more, since there should be some lag time before vendors like Microsoft add conduits for Entourage, weve made sure that our users can use existing conduits in the meantime.”
“Everyone at Bare Bones Software gets excited when Apples ready to advance the OS again,” said Rich Siegel, founder and CEO of Bare Bones Software. “Indeed, Tiger includes many technologies which have particularly piqued our interest, so were looking forward to the 29th, and to the productivity increases which well be able to provide to our customers.”