The true value of Tiger
April 20, 2005 4:03 PM   Subscribe

Is Tiger (OSX 10.4) worth the upgrade price?

I'm a student, and I'm sure that my school will offer it in the Fall, but for the next six months, I'll be "stuck" with Panther. Since the educational discount brings the price down pretty dramatically, I'm considering the purchase. I use a 12" PB G4 1.33 w/768 MB. Should I really care about this upgrade?
posted by SeizeTheDay to Computers & Internet (20 answers total)
 
I'm a student and planning on buying it for approx $60-ish (with my educational discount.)

I have a 12" PB G4 1.0 w/512 megs. While the various software updates are not particularly thrilling -- although I am waiting to see Safari's use of RSS and Dashboard -- for me, the big deal are the speed improvements. More educated MeFites can likely expound on those.
posted by docgonzo at 4:05 PM on April 20, 2005


I doubt you'll get any informed comments yet, because it still hasn't been released to the public.
posted by xil at 4:08 PM on April 20, 2005


I've already bought it and I'm eagerly awaiting it. But it won't hurt you to run Panther for a few months while Tiger's first couple of revisions are released, unless you're using some third-party applications (Quicksilver, notably) that will only be developed for Tiger starting on April 29.

I wouldn't say it's a compelling upgrade any more than Windows XP was a compelling upgrade over Windows 2000. Yes, there are added features, and yes they're handy, but you can probably live without them.

On preview: Information is pretty easy to come by now. There have even been comparative performance charts drawn up showing the relative improvement (~34% in UI speed for your generation powerbook, for example).
posted by socratic at 4:10 PM on April 20, 2005


I've been playing with 10.4 for a couple of weeks.

Spotlight is neat but not really that amazing yet. It's like LaunchBar with full text search, almost no configurability, and a bunch of useful capabilities stripped out. It will take a lot of third party development before Spotlight becomes truly useful. As a Splat-Space app and doc launcher the UI is pretty weak.

I honestly don't notice the UI speed improvements, but then the video hardware on 12" Powerbooks is pretty feeble.

The applications with "Platinum" UI are much much much much easier on the eyes than the omfg-die-die-die brushed metal. Finder is still the horribly ugly brushed metal.

Automator is one of those Apple applications, like poor abandoned Sherlock, that has tons of potential but won't be adopted widely enough to become truly useful.

The Dictionary application is pretty cool, especially the desktop integration, but weirdly it has no AppleScript hooks and doesn't integrate to the Services menu. The lack of those features is baffling, to say the least.

Dashboard widgets are nifty, but it's pretty much just Konqueror.

The recent version I tested did not fix the dreaded New Powerbook touchpad hang, although I hear the fix is already in 10.3.9

It boots noticeably faster.

Postfix is still there but the current version of Postfix Enabler won't work due to some files missing. This might very well get fixed in the final final release.

Safari 2 is kind of neat -- though PithHelmet is utterly broken on it -- and one of these days I'll try the RSS thingy it has. The Pr0nBrowser mode is handy.

No compatibility issues with World of Warcraft noted.
posted by majick at 4:32 PM on April 20, 2005


Konqueror Konfabulator. Doh.
posted by majick at 4:32 PM on April 20, 2005


No compatibility issues with World of Warcraft noted.

Thank you thank you thank you. This is one of the single most important pieces of information for me re: this upgarde.

The Pr0nBrowser mode is handy.

What mode is this? Some full-screen browsing thing?

Speaking of Pr0nBrowser mode: what is up with the latest Safari build? My right-click "Download Linked File As..." (the equivalent of Window's "Save as...") has been changed to simply "Download Linked File" with no option to rename? Que? This is WRONG. Anyone know what's up?
posted by jdroth at 5:08 PM on April 20, 2005


I pre-ordered it for the updates to Mail alone. I got to play with a friend's beta Tiger a few weeks ago and I can't wait. I wish they de-coupled Safari and Mail from their OS upgrades though. I'd pay $50 for new versions of Mail every so often instead of having to wait for an entire OS upgrade.
posted by mathowie at 5:45 PM on April 20, 2005


The official name of pr0nbrowser mode is "Private Browsing." When it's enabled, web sites you visit aren't added to Safari's history, Google searches you make aren't saved in the Google search box, AutoFill information isn't saved, and things you've downloaded disappear from the "Downloads" window as soon as you've finished.

About this feature, Apple says, "Safari protects your personal information on shared or public Macs when surfing the Web. Go ahead and check your bank account and .Mac email at the library or shop for birthday presents on the family Mac. Using Safari’s new Private Browsing feature, no information about where you visit on the Web, personal information you enter or pages you visit are saved or cached. It’s as if you were never there."
posted by esd at 5:47 PM on April 20, 2005


Or, rather, things you've downloaded disappear from the "Downloads" window as soon as they've finished (downloading).
posted by esd at 5:48 PM on April 20, 2005


"Shopping for birthday presents" is my new favorite euphemism.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:37 PM on April 20, 2005


I've been using the beta version for awhile now on a iBook G4 less than a year old. I will say that I have regretted upgrading ever since and the only reason I have not reinstalled Panther is laziness.

While the beta is significantly slower and more unstable than Panther, with more crashes of Safari and an odd tie up of iChat (which is not functionally obvious when using iChat; the harddrive spins, programs slow down and in the Activity Monitor I can see that the iChat agent is often hung), I sincerely hope this instability will be fixed in the full release.

Things I would miss if I go back to Panther: the widgets are cute but take up too much memory to run and I never remember they're there anyway; iChat has an integration with iTunes so your away/available message can be what track you're currently listening to, updating live, with a link to the iTunes music store for your buddies, which is free advertising for Apple; if a website has an RSS feed a link will show up in Safari's address bar, clicking it adds the link to your default rss news reader, not necessarilly SafariRSS. RSS is integrated into a browser window where I'd expected it to look more like the iTunes window. I prefer the NewsNetWire format so I haven't been using it.

I would say that no, it is not worth the price.
posted by scazza at 6:46 PM on April 20, 2005


I would say that no, it is not worth the price.

To reiterate: you've been using a beta. Who knows if the issues you've had are present in the unreleased GM.
posted by toddshot at 7:37 PM on April 20, 2005


jdroth--hold down the option key when right-clicking on an image.
posted by adamrice at 8:18 PM on April 20, 2005


Thank you, adamrice. It's silly that they've changed the default behavior, but at least I know I can download things in different folders again...
posted by jdroth at 9:49 PM on April 20, 2005


From a longer term point of view, there are several new technologies in Tiger that are going to lead to some really cool new apps and stuff over the next few year or two. Also, a lot of new shareware is going to require it, because Tiger will provide lots of shortcuts that mean programmers have to do less work. If any of that interests you, Tiger will definitely be worth it.

(scazza: Random application crashes are about the last bug to be fixed in Cocoa apps like Safari, and freezes seem normal for an unfinished version of a multi-threaded/network program like iChat)
posted by cillit bang at 3:06 AM on April 21, 2005


"No compatibility issues with World of Warcraft noted.

Thank you thank you thank you. This is one of the single most important pieces of information for me re: this upgarde."


I actually dug out 10.3 Panther install media and held it in my hand during the first launch of WoW. Just in case. It turns out I didn't need it. The only issues I've had revolved around the next to last WoW patch, not 10.4 Tiger.

The nVidia drivers do seem slightly old, but again, I have not tested the final Tiger package, which presumably will have fixes merged in from recent 10.3 Panther builds.

" Tiger will provide lots of shortcuts that mean programmers have to do less work."

I haven't really looked at the updated XCode, SDK and Frameworks -- very little of my coding work is OSX-specific, and what Unix work I do is against POSIX rather than the higher level libraries -- but from the little bit I've seen there are some nifty new things that may result in interesting software being written.

Unfortunately, the Macintosh developer culture is still very stuck in a shareware world, with $10 one trick pony shovelware being heaped upon MacUpdate by the ton. Until the Mac culture gets with the 90s, anything that makes the Mac even more approachable for developers will inevitably result in even more of this particular breed of questionably useful junk applications being written. In some ways, Tiger will be slightly bad for the Mac.

Of course, ever since Visual Basic was released there's quite a share of that crap for Windows, too, but because the total base of useful software is larger, the shovelware is largely ignored. Analagously, no such phenomenon -- apart from Veritas products that sell you capabilities you already have -- exists in the rest of the Unix world.

"Random application crashes are about the last bug to be fixed"

I have deliberately not mentioned crashers and obvious bugs as my tests were not against production code. They are, of course, there. Most of them, of course, will or are already fixed. Those that aren't, of course, eventually will unless they fall -- like the Terminal ghost text bug -- into the Apple black hole of denial.
posted by majick at 6:49 AM on April 21, 2005


From a longer term point of view, there are several new technologies in Tiger that are going to lead to some really cool new apps and stuff over the next few year or two. Also, a lot of new shareware is going to require it, because Tiger will provide lots of shortcuts that mean programmers have to do less work. If any of that interests you, Tiger will definitely be worth it.


Bingo. To me, a lot of the best new stuff in Tiger is "under the hood". I've been hearing a lot of developer buzz about stuff like Core Image and how that will lead to more robust application interfaces (yes, good and bad).

Unless you're dying to get it, you're fine holding off until the Fall, when you're going to start to see the first wave of cool Tiger-leveraged apps.
posted by mkultra at 7:50 AM on April 21, 2005


If you purchase a new Mac and get if for free, sure.

If you are going to purchase this for an existing Mac, wait a bit for a couple of "dot" releases to get the kinks worked out and let the application developers to catch up (disclaimer: I work for such a developer, so I know how long that can take.)
posted by cptnrandy at 8:07 AM on April 21, 2005


For me the only true selling point, after I tried Konfabulator last night to see if I like Widgets, is Mail 2. And unfortunately for Apple, $70 is too high a price tag for just one program. I think I will hold off until the Fall. It probably would've been different for me if I was upgrading from Jaguar to Tiger. Thanks for the info. folks, and as someone in another thread said, don't let my comment keep any of you from discussing Tiger further. There are plenty of people here who are Mac users.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 8:36 AM on April 21, 2005


Unfortunately, the Macintosh developer culture is still very stuck in a shareware world, with $10 one trick pony shovelware being heaped upon MacUpdate by the ton.

Er? It's "stuck" to have a culture in which users actually pay for software? (This translates to far lower rates of piracy of commercial software than is the industry average, as well.)
posted by kindall at 9:27 AM on April 21, 2005


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