Leopard the new Vista? No, but it's not manna, either

I love the Mac. But Leopard is just something I paid for. It's not giving me anything. Innovation seems to have moved from the desktop to the web.

I've been a bit of a Mac freak since 2002 when I got my first PowerBook. I've since converted many friends, nearly all family, and half my company to the Mac. I can tally up at least $300,000 in Apple hardware and software that I've personally paid for or purchases that I've influenced. I love the Mac.

As for Apple's newest operating system, I like it, too. Kind of how I like cereal. It's there. I eat it. I don't think much about it.

This is, of course, really what an operating system should do: not play at being the center of attention and just let me run the applications that I want. In this, Leopard is great for me. Unlike others (like this Slashdot rant or Dave Rosenberg's own complaint ), I've never had Leopard crash. Not once. The upgrade from Mac OS X version 10.4 (Tiger) was completely pain-free. Everything just works.

Maybe this is the problem.

Over the years I've come to expect operating system and application upgrades to be, well, upgrades. I pay for something new: new functionality, new user interfaces, new something. With Leopard, everything just works, same as it did before with Tiger. Time Machine is new, but I haven't gotten around to using it. Spaces? Not interesting to me. Expose in Panther? That was cool. New look to the Dock in Leopard? Snore....

So why did I upgrade? I mean, besides the fact that I'm clearly a mindless Apple zombie? I figured the new applications would take advantage of the power and functionality under the Leopard hood, and in this I assume I won't be disappointed. But for now, everything is the same.

Not quite, of course. Apple has released new software that actually has changed and visually improved. iLife '08, for one, is definitely worth the upgrade. I like some of the innovations in iPhoto and iMovie. But I didn't need Leopard to get the new iLife.

It may well be that we've tapped out the desktop metaphor and won't be seeing much reason to upgrade, whether on the Windows, Mac, or Linux client. Maybe all the innovation is now happening out in the Internet cloud. Maybe it's time to stop feverishly clicking on "Software Update" to get the latest patches and functionality updates to Leopard (or Vista, if that's your persuasion).

Perhaps it's time to just capitulate to the perpetual beta that is the Web. There's always something new happening there.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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