Mac OS X: Another View
Subject:   Rebuttal to "What I like about OS X"
Date:   2001-04-20 09:55:40
From:   derrick
I received this very thoughtful note from Dr Timothy Priest responding to what he considers an overly optimistic list of Mac OS X strengths ... at least from the consumer standpoint. Here's what he has to say: -- DS

While I think it is good to be upbeat about a new OS and Apple in general,
we should not accept second best or inferior quality in doing so; otherwise
we could use Windows. What Apple has released (and I paid Aus$230.00 for) is
without a doubt inferior to OS 9 in all the areas that matter to an average

Real consumers could care less whether an OS has preemption, protected
Memory, "REAL" VM etc. Likewise they could care less that their OS has
Apache Webserver, Perl, Python, TCL or whatever. They just want to do their
work seamlessly and without fuss. MAC OS 9 is still by far the easiest way
to do this, not OS X; YET!

As a colleague of mine said the other day, after persevering with OS X for
two weeks solid: "Going back to 9 was like getting out of a swimming pool full of Treacle and
legging it to the change rooms!"

Anyway, to the specific points mentioned. There are many flaws in the
arguments and several double-ups. After going through them I came up with
TWO real OS X advantages. They are noted in the individual points.

Don't get me wrong. I am a Mac man. I still have my Discovering Copland CD
from 1995. I have lived through, Pink, Taligent, Copland, Rhapsody, OS X
Server and now OS X. I am simply angry that Apple is neglecting its core
People, and core benefits over Windows, in its race for a so-called Modern
and Advanced OS.

1) No extensions -- no more playing "Where's Waldo" with the Extension Manager trying to find the extension that is crashing your Mac.

--- No! Fine, but wait until you want someone to add system-wide functionality
that Apple hasn't included or doesn't want to add. Just remember how many of
the things in OS 9 we take for granted came from extension hacks. Something
that is very much harder in OS X. Whether this is good or bad will come to
light over the course of next year.

2) All of the applications I use every day are faster in OS X than in OS9.1 on my system.

--- This one is a straight out LIE. I challenge you or Scott to name these
applications. Let me name two that are definitely slower. Finder and IE!

3) No more out of memory messages.

--- Here I agree, though OS X's mach VM is not as good (yet) as I would like to
see. Under slight-moderate loads, OS 9's VM is superior to OS X's. As an
example, OS X pages out on me even when I have over 200M of inactive memory,
slowing the whole machine as it does so. OS 9 performs much better at low
loading, contrary to the bull we hear daily.

4) I never have to select "Hide Others".

--- Funny, this is one of the things I find I do MORE under X than I do under 9.
I know a lot of others who agree with me here (and Apple has even bound a
hot-key to it-Command-H). One of the reasons I find myself using it more is
the poor contrast between active/inactive windows in X. This makes me want
to hide windows more so I don't get mixed up.

5) I never have to manually allocate memory to my applications.

--- This one is a definite boon. No argument there. Score one for OS X.

6) I never have wasted RAM because I allocated more memory than my application needs.

--- As above, though the VM on X makes me wonder at the moment. Apple has some
work to do here.

7) I don't have stuttering or stopping while I type in this message
window while I am downloading a file and listening to an MP3 at the same time.

--- This is just bollocks. I have never had a problem with having mp3's etc
going at the same time os downloading etc in 9. In fact a little education
can be found using top on X and peek-a-boo on OS 9. Itunes under OS 9 uses
less than 2% of my processor (G3 266) under OS 9. Under OS X it uses 20-25%.
Likewise with IE saturating the processor. Now which one is likely to skip
more? In fact, I have had exactly ONE skip in running iTunes on OS 9; ever.
Under ten I can often make it skip under heavy load. The writer should check
the facts here instead of spouting the usual pre-emptive bull!

8) When I click on the menu bar or hold down the mouse button my computer doesn't stop working.

--- True, but resizing a window on OS 9 doesn't max out the CPU and update at 2 frame per second either. And running the cursor around the screen fast doesn't cause the CPU to use 10-15% of its cycles.

9) I don't have to go to the Chooser to switch between my ink jet printer and my laser printer.

--- No, you have to go to the print-center! And how exactly do I change location settings under X? They call changing a network setting a location manager?

10) I don't have to go to the Chooser to mount a computer on the network.

--- Fine, you have to go to the goto menu! What are the real semantic differences here?

11) I don't have to purchase Dave or PCMacLan to network to my PC.

--- True! Two for X.

12) When an application freezes or fails, I don't lose all of my unsaved work in my other running applications.

--- True. But then I have had my OS 9 machine up for 23 days straight as I type
this. My OS X box has had TWO kernel panics in that time. Both with regards
to AFP networking. So much for memory protection! You can't protect the
system from itself!

13) When an application freezes or fails, I don't have to restart my downloading of a large file.

--- Now you are grabbing at straws. This is related to the above post. Again see my comment.

14) I don't have to wait for my favorite applications to be written for dual processors.

--- No? Well you might find that many of Carbon apps out are not properly threaded (at the moment) and they make diddly use of any other processor. The finder for instance is not faster on a multi-processor machine. It is still like treacle. And try connecting to an iDisk on the finder. It blocks completely!

15) I like the Dock. I can easily launch my applications and switch between them from anywhere with a single click. I like how it displays information like how many unread emails I have.

--- So do I. But I also dislike the Dock for trying to do TOO much for me and not having enough dynamics or feedback that counts. How do I distinguish between my Favourites folder and Downloads Folder in the Dock without mousing over them? And try updating a folder icon on the machine after the link is in the Dock. The Dock Icon will never update!

16) Applications are bundled with their system files into a single file. I have never had to install an application in OS X and I never have to search for files to delete when I want to get rid of an application.

--- Ha, Ha. Wait till MS hits its stride. Or try installing Apache or SSH! Now tell me how bad OS 9 is! The idea of a single bundle is great, but don't blame OS 9 for others screwing it. The same will come with X, just you wait.

17) I love the open/save dialog boxes in OS X which show me customized favorites and recent places I've been.

--- Yeah, except there is no real logic to the pop-up menu. And the three-pane miller browser in the open/save is just confusing. I hate it! Default Folder on OS 9 has been doing this FAR better for FAR longer.

18) The Unix underpinnings bring new talent to the Macintosh developer community and a better chance at enterprise adoption.

--- Maybe. We live in hope. But Apple is ignoring the people who made it chasing these wannabees. Look at the problems in the new Finder to see this. Read John Siracusa's articles on OS X. Where is something as simple, yet informative as Icon Masking in OS X.

19) I love the new Finder with the toolbar. I instantly jump between all of the folders I go to - Applications, Utilities, Documents, Downloads, Music, etc. I can drag applications from the Downloads folder to the Applications icon on the toolbar and it gets moved there without the proliferation of windows.

--- I am beginning to suspect a user familiar and comfortable with Windows here. The toolbar is useful but it is half-assed! It needs to be more like the NeXT dock if that's its function. It is too limited as it is now. For instance, the toolbar is the same for ALL windows. What if I want different ones in different folders?

20) No 128 font suitcase limit.

--- Score another for X. Pretty lame, but score it anyway.

21) Global spell checker.

--- Yes, but ironically they have screwed the Services feature of NeXT, since Carbon Apps can't use them (at least not yet). And they are far more powerful (and encompass global spell checking anyway).

22) I love the PDF display. OmniWeb is the best looking Web browser I have ever used because of this technology.

--- Fine! Maybe even true. Score four for OS X.

23) I don't have to buy Adobe Acrobat to save anything to a PDF.

--- No, but you can't do all that Acrobat can do, since Apple's PDF does not incorporate all of Adobe's PDF.

24) I love being able to see which QuickTime movie is which just by clicking on it in the Finder without opening it.

--- Oh yes, but ONLY in column view. How incongrous is that. And what about the fact that I can only view file attributes for ONE thing at a time in X as opposed to OS 9's almost limitless potential.

25) I love being able to hear which music file is which just by clicking on it in the Finder.

--- Straw grabbing again! See comments above.

26) I love how my external FireWire drive works without having to install software.

--- I would love it for my CD burner, but it doesn't work! Meanwhile OS 9 picked it up fine without any software install. OS 9 has far better support for USB and Firewire than OS X. This one's plain wrong. And again I detect a Window's user's voice here.

By Dr Timothy Priest