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Apple Mac OS X: A Look Back

Readers have long misunderstood my relationship with Apple and its fans, but one thing is clear: From the moment I began covering Apple from a news perspective in the mid-1990s, I started getting complaints from the Windows user base about a topic they felt--as now--was perhaps a bit too far outside the acceptable. I disagreed then, as I do now. Apple is, and has always been, important, both to the PC industry at large and, in a less direct manner, to Windows users. And that's because Apple's influence can be seen everywhere, and because Apple's operating systems compete directly with Microsoft's, causing a situation in which both firms copy each other and accuse the other of the same.

What's changed over the years, of course, is that Apple has only grown in prominence, influence, and market power. And while the vast majority of that change has come from devices like the iPod, iPhone, and now iPad, Apple's mainstream computer OS, Mac OS X, has always represented a viable alternative to Windows. And as this system has evolved and matured over the past decade, it's gotten better and better.

Next week, I'll publish my already-completed review of Mac OS X "Lion," Apple's latest desktop OS. It's the best OS X version yet, of course, and like the Windows 8 release it pre-dates, it provides an interesting glimpse at a suddenly changing computing landscape that will consume us all in the years ahead. With that as context, I'd like to take a look back at my Mac OS X reviews and related articles, which date all the way back to the original Mac OS X release in 2001. Unlike with some of my trendier contemporaries in the tech writer and blogger worlds, Mac OS X isn't a recent phenomenon for me: I've been using and writing about Macs for over a decade, and I've probably owned more Apple hardware and software than most hardcore Apple fanatics. And just looking over the timeline of these articles confirms this. I've got deep, years-long experience with Mac OS X.

While the more recent articles here were indeed originally published on the SuperSite for Windows, many date back to a publication called Connected Home, which was Penton's ill-fated attempt at a consumer-oriented magazine. That publication sort-of still exists today as Connected Planet, though I play no official role in that. But my Mac-oriented columns from the earlier publication still have a home here on the SuperSite.

Speaking of which: Did you know I was featured on the Apple web site in August 2005? I was:


As with other looks back, newer articles are at the top.

What Microsoft Can Learn From Mac OS X Lion - February 26, 2011

Mac OS X 10.7 ("Lion") takes many design cues from the company's iOS system--used in the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad products--which I think makes plenty of sense. In fact, I think history will show that Apple, through luck or intuition, did the right thing by basing its mobile OS (iOS) on the same technical underpinnings as its desktop and server OSes (OS X), and this is the next logical step.

Quick Take: Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" - August 25, 2009

Snow Leopard, like Leopard before it, is a fine OS, a rock-solid and capable computing foundation. It's just that when compared to what's happening on the Windows side, Snow Leopard is sort of a letdown. There's just not much going on from an end-user perspective.

Apple Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" Review - October 26, 2007

While the Apple hype machine and its fanatical followers would have you believe that Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" is a major upgrade to the company's venerable operating system, nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, Leopard is yet another evolutionary upgrade in a long line of evolutionary OS X upgrades. But that's not a dig at Leopard at all. Folks, Leopard is good stuff. But then that's been true of Mac OS X for quite a while now.

Mac OS X 10.5 'Leopard' Screenshot Gallery - October 25, 2007

Here are some screenshots of Apple's recently released OS X update, Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard."

I'm a PC. I'm a Mac - May 23, 2007

Thanks to Apple's conversion to the same Intel-based computing platform used by mainstream Windows-based PCs and a host of software tools that make it easier than ever to interoperate between the Mac OS X and Windows worlds, buying a Mac is easier--and smarter--than ever. Sure, there are some hurdles to overcome. But for many people, choosing between a Mac and a PC doesn't have to be an either-or proposition anymore.

Apple Mac OS X Leopard Preview: Who's the Copycat Now? - April 9, 2006

Sometimes I wonder how Apple CEO Steve Jobs can sleep at night. He appears to spend half his waking hours ridiculing Microsoft's admittedly behind-schedule operating system, Windows Vista, for copying Mac OS X features. But this week at Apple's annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), he announced ten new features for Leopard, the next version of OS X, most of which will seem more than vaguely familiar to Windows users. I'm not dim: Microsoft does copy Apple on a fairly regular basis. But seriously, Steve. Apple's just as bad.

My Wife is Switching to the Mac - December 28, 2005

This Christmas, I presented my wife with a new Mac mini. I honestly wasn't sure if she'd be even slightly interested in switching to the Mac, but I figured if she showed no interest in it, I could hold onto it myself or simply return it. To my surprise and delight, my wife was very much interested in the Mac mini and was eager to switch.

Apple Plots Move to Intel: Now What? - June 8, 2005

At an annual developer conference this week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs dropped the personal computing bombshell of the year: His company will be transitioning the Macintosh from Power PC microprocessors to industry standard Intel processors over the next two years. The first Intel-based Macs will appear in mid-2006, and Apple expects to completely transition its Mac hardware line to Intel processors by the end of 2007.

This Tiger Purrs: The Next Mac OS Will Be Best Yet - April 20, 2005

Though I feel that Tiger is a minor upgrade compared to the previous OS X version, Panther, that shouldn't diminish the importance of this release. Apple has been slowly improving its UNIX-based operating system for several years now, and Tiger is the fruit of that labor. Is it enough to make Windows users switch? That's a tough call.

Apple Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" Review - April 14, 2005

Contrary to Apple's hyperbolic claims of "200 new features," Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger includes, in my opinion, only two major new features, Spotlight and Dashboard, and both were clearly influenced by other existing products and services. But Tiger is also chock full of a wide range of small new applications and updates to existing applications and technologies as well.

Apple Mac OS X 10.3 "Panther" Review - October 29, 2003

With much fanfare, Apple Computer recently released Mac OS X 10.3 (code-named Panther), a minor upgrade to its colorful UNIX-based operating system. Credit Apple for generating a lot of excitement for what's essentially a refinement and evolution of Mac OS X 10.2 (code-named Jaguar). Reading the various Apple-friendly reviews now available online, you might get the idea that Panther is a major OS upgrade. After spending a few weeks with the fledgling system, I can assure you that it's not.

Switching to the Mac Doesn't Have to be Difficult - December 12, 2002

I've been using Mac OS X on a daily basis for about a year and a half now, and though I still prefer Windows XP overall, OS X is a viable operating environment for a variety of people, including consumers, graphics professionals, and even UNIX geeks looking for a more mainstream system than Linux. Mac OS X's biggest strengths, of course, are its excellent digital media experiences, and the rock-solid nature of its UNIX-like underpinnings.

Apple Mac OS X 10.2 "Jaguar" Review - September 11, 2002

Apple Computer's most recent OS, Mac OS X 10.2--code-named Jaguar and released 2 weeks ago--is a viable alternative to the Windows XP juggernaut, especially for people interested in digital-media tasks. But is it the "purrfect" OS upgrade or just the latest in a long line of capable also-rans?

Making the Apple Switch - July 4, 2002

Making the move from the PC to the Mac doesn't have to instill an us-against-them mentality. One of the things I don't like about the Apple "Switch" ad campaign is that it fosters the misconception that you must, in fact, choose between the PC and the Mac. In fact, Macs and PCs can interoperate fairly well, and if you're thinking about getting a new computer, and keeping your existing computer online (as is so often the case today), a Macintosh makes a fine choice in many cases.

Apple Mac OS X 10.1 Review - November 7, 2001

The Mac is undergoing a renaissance these days, similar to the sweeping improvements the PC world is experiencing with Windows XP. After years of work, Apple has finally released a bulletproof next-generation OS that's as easy to use as it is easy on the eyes. It's called Mac OS X (pronounced ten), and the latest revision--version 10.1--is the first revision that's worthy of your attention, regardless of which OS you currently use.

Mac OS X Review - April 15, 2001

You might be aware that the Macintosh's weak spot has historically been its OS, which has survived largely unchanged for a decade and a half. That situation changed this spring when Apple finally released Mac OS X ("ten"), which is based on Berkley System Designs (BSD) UNIX, a Mach micro-kernel, and the elegant NeXTStep software that Steve Jobs developed while between jobs at Apple.

Apple PowerBook Titanium G4 Review - April 15, 2001

Apple's products have a certain panache that most Windows boxes lack, and the PowerBook G4 is perhaps the ultimate example of this often-misunderstood quality that sells millions of Macintoshes every year.

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