I got my Mac Pro back on Saturday and all was once again right with the world. I’m not sure they did anything at all to it, but as long as it’s working right it’s all good.
I also picked up a copy of the brand spanking new release of Mac OS 10.5 aka “Leopard”, the much ballyhooed new operating system upgrade from Apple. Leopard has some nifty and powerful new feature as well as a whole lot of eye candy, and not upgrading is a little like Stimpy being unable to resist the red “candy-like” button with the “Do Not Push” sign over it. I knew I’d eventually do it, so I bought the program partly using my $100 iPhone credit.
Apple has long touted itself as far easier to use than Windows. Software programs do not conflict with each and hardware just plugs in and works… in theory. Upgrading the OS is supposed to be a similarly painless procedure. As a former Windows user I can attest that upgrading to a new flavor of Windows is such a nerve wracking experience, where something ALWAYS goes wrong, that I would literally just buy a new computer with it preloaded rather than attempt an upgrade. Certainly at the very least I would wipe the hard drive and do a complete, fresh install from scratch, then reinstall all my software, hardware and finally my data. Apple does do it better than Windows, but it’s far from painless.
Windows has one thing going for it Apple does not… about 90% of all personal computers in the world run Windows. Because of that enormous market, and Microsoft’s willingness to distribute endless seeds of their OS code way in advance, by the time it’s newest version comes out all your favorite hardware and software have updates and drivers available to make it compatible with Windows Whatever. Not so Apple. A lot of programs need at least some kind of tweaking via a patch to work properly with Leopard, and some need a full upgrade. Few programs or hardware seem to have a fully Leopard compatible upgrade or driver ready right now.
It looks like it may be several months before I will be able to upgrade the OS on my Mac Pro to Leopard. Right now my scanner will not work with it (except using a questionable third party scanning program… more on that in a second), my fax software won’t work at all, Office and Quickbooks Pro programs work but need an update to be 100% compliant, and there are a dozen little programs I use all the time like DVD Capture, Fetch and others that I have no idea if they work nor when or if they will ever get updated. Software and hardware companies take care of their Windows customers first as they are legion, and us poor Mac slummers are often left waiting.
Take my scanner for example… please. I have a Microtek ScanMaker 9800XL, which is a large format 12″ x 17″ flatbed that is absolutely indispensable for my work. I scan large pieces of line art for coloring in PhotoShop as well as all my pencils to send in for review, etc. I would be lost without a scanner. Microtek may be the worst hardware company that deals in equipment for graphics (of which Mac is still a very common if not dominant professional platform) in terms of supporting Mac users with drivers and software. They refuse to write Mac drivers for scanner models that are barely a few years old, and what scanners they do bother to write Mac drivers and software for they don’t get around to it for a long, long time. Mac’s switched to Intel-based chips well over a year ago and Microtek has only released drivers for two of their scanner models to support the IntelMac hardware… neither of them mine. I found a workaround but have been unable to calibrate my scanner since getting my Mac Pro. Fortunately I only scan black and white images. I do not recommend Microtek scanners for Mac users… if you need a large format scanner get the Epson Expression 10000XL. It’s pricey but at least Epson supports their products… they already have a Leopard driver and software.
The bottom line is any upgrade to your OS that is not a simple patch is a major event, and should not be done lightly on a computer you use for work and need for productivity. I’ve got a Macbook Pro and have upgraded that so I can get a feel for Leopard before taking the plunge on my Mac Pro in a few months.
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