OS X Prospects

Surprisingly, there’s still a great deal of speculation about the future of Mac OS X, Apple’s latest and operating system.

Two people I respect — Henry Norr of the San Francisco Chronicle and Andrew Orlowski of the Register — have ditched OS X for now and gone back to OS 9, they report in recent columns. I share their qualms, and have several of my own, but I’m not going back except for some highly specific purposes.

OS X is too slow, and most applications aren’t up to snuff yet. I also agree with critics who think the user interface has a long way to go before it’ll be as useful as the one it replaces.

Why on earth, for example, can’t I run Finder the same way it works in OS 9? I like it the old way. Apple doesn’t care.

And why can’t I customize the Apple menu as I could the old one? This is irritating.

But the value of stability in the underlying OS is, simply, the one thing that keeps me running OS X. The too-frequent crashing I experience in the most up-to-date version of OS 9 on an iBook reminds me of pre-NT versions of Windows. What I gain from not having to reboot frequently would be worth the drawbacks, even if OS X didn’t have some good features.

OS X is a work in progress. It’s going to get better. The speed is bound to improve as Apple optimizes the code. Sooner or later, I hope, Apple will give third-party programmers the information they need to let me customize the UI shell to my liking, not Steve Jobs’ dictates.


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