Now, I run Windows here at home, but I’ve always been interested in what Apple were up to with the Macintosh. Actually, my interest predates the Macintosh – I did an in-house review of the Lisa for work, way back in 1983. And for a time, my first home computer was an Atari ST running as an Apple Macintosh using the Spectre GCR emulator developed by Dave Small. But eventually I went over to the dark side (as some of the Apple enthusiasts would say) and adopted the Windows platform, starting with Windows 95.
Be that as it may, today sees the launch of the latest incarnation of Apple’s Macintosh operating system, in the shape of OS X 10.4 – the "Tiger".
And, over at Ars.Technica, John Siracusa has done a really magnificent job of reviewing the operating system. It’s a long review (21 pages – and apparently the PDF version available to subscribers weighs in at over 100 pages), but well worth reading. He shares my passion for metadata, so I’m pleased to see that metadata is at last beginning to take its rightful place in the file system fabric. I can see parallels here with what Microsoft have done with the metadata in Windows, and what they want to do in Longhorn.
And the Macintosh operating system is built on Unix. One of the bad things about Unix was the severe restrictions of Access Control Lists (ACLs – who can do what to which files). While the Macintosh OS extended the capabilities of ACLs, it’s only now, with Tiger, that Apple have finally introduced the same flexibility as Windows offers with its ACLs. In fact, now Tiger gives the ability for a Tiger server to participate fully in a Windows network.
I suppose, in summary, my impression is that Apple and Microsoft are engaged in a game of leapfrog. It appears, reading this review, as though with the release of Tiger, Apple has finally caught up with some of the fundamental platform capabilities of Windows, and in some areas – the metadata and the GUI in particular, exceeded what Windows is currently capable of. I expect Microsoft to try and pass Apple when theyr release Longhorn late in 2006.