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An Apple And Its Tiger

Today, Monday 28 June 2004, three thousand five hundred of the chosen, all one thousand five hundred US dollars lighter, got to see Maharishi Steve present Apple Computer's next bombshell, OS X 10.4 - the 'Tiger'. 'Redmond, start your photocopiers' said the big posters in Moscone, and Steve dazzled the enraptured crowd with further doodads slated for the 2005 release of this latest operating system.

But doodads do not an operating system make. Was there anything in this preview which indicated 'Tiger' would be otherwise?

  • There will be a greater compatibility between HFS and POSIX. A number of standard Unix command line tools have been rewritten to take resource forks into account. (Far better would have been to scrap HFS once and for all.)

  • The move is on to 64-bit computing: the complete gamut of 16 XB virtual memory will now be available.

And that's about it. More excitement - more controversy - was created by the preview of 'Dashboard', a sort of Konfabulator for the new Tiger desktop. Otherwise, the now worn-out claim of '150 new features', heard for the past three releases of OS X, is wearing thin.

And Arlo Rose and Perry Clarke, inventors of the Konfabulator framework, were not late in turning Cupertino's irony against the company. 'Cupertino, start your photocopiers', jibed the Konfabulator site only minutes after the Maharishi left the building.

The history of Apple, Konfabulator, and the Tiger Dashboard is a long involved one. Almost as quickly as Arlo and Perry posted their objection, the Konfabulator forums were alive with further research into the matter, some of the more stinging accusations being quietly removed, with at least one reference remaining to the 'Desk Ornaments' dreamed up by Bud Tribble later of NeXT fame.

However this story turns out, it's obvious Apple are wasting their time again. No amount of user satisfaction can pay them back for the bad publicity and the controversy they stir up over a move like this. Whilst Microsoft struggle in Brussels over essentially the same thing, the angels of Apple engage in it openly and count on all their loyal fans forgiving them for everything.

But the one thing their fans might not forgive them for is their lack of discretion, and another is touting a new $129 operating system release on the back of a few desktop doodads.

Legal eagles and gossip columnists, start sharpening your pencils.

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