The case for disappointment over Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard)'s delay lacks a key component -- anticipation fueled by the existence of compelling, publicly announced features beyond those unveiled during Steve Jobs' 2006 WWDC keynote presentation. Fortunately, with regard to the troubleshooting and general stability of Apple's next-generation operating system, there is cause for excitement. Among the improvements that should make for a more problem-free computing experience in Leopard:
The Software Update mechanism in Leopard will force the user to quit all open applications before applying most updates. This change is made in an attempt to obviate problems that can be caused by other processes occurring while new software is being installed. We've recommended that users quit all open applications an avoid performing other operations during major system updates for every iterative Mac OS X release, and Apple is now building this advice into the actual update process.
Activity Monitor in Leopard has increased the prominence of a feature called "sample process," which traces every call that is made by a specific application or system process. This can prove invaluable in tracing crashes and other troubleshooting issues, as users can check what files and routines are accessed in the case of a problem.
Spotlight will become a better troubleshooting tool in Leopard. There will be a specialized ability to search within help documentation for various applications. The Leopard version of Spotlight will also be able to search within application menus for difficult-to-locate functions.
Dashboard should be less of a resource hog in Leopard. All widgets will be part of a single process, purportedly offering a speed increase and a reduced resource imprint.
Better behaving third-party applications should be the result of two Apple initiatives with regard to Leopard:
- One is the push toward reliance by third-party on built-in Apple technologies like Core Animation to achieve desired functions. The idea is that Apple has better access to system internals and testing, hence creating more solid base code that can be integrated by developers rather than forcing said developers to "reinvent the wheel."
- The other is the strong encouragement for use of Xcode 3.0 to develop Leopard-compatible applications. Pushing a single development environment should promote better application behavior than allowing development through numerous IDEs.