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Mac OS X 'Panther': User at the Center 550

MatthewRothenberg writes "Over at eWEEK, we believe we've got the drop on the much-discussed interface enhancements to Mac OS X 10.3, a k a Panther: The theme of this September release will be 'User at the Center,' an umbrella term for a variety of new features aimed at leapfrogging Microsoft when it comes to pervasive, user-focused computing. Niceties include user-configurable 'piles,' a fast-user-switching-type feature, and easy transferral of home directories among devices and the Web. Oh, and it's mo' definitely 64-bit-complete, too."
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Mac OS X 'Panther': User at the Center

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  • by sulli ( 195030 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @12:44PM (#5782005) Journal
    Because even with "Light" smoothing and small fonts unsmoothed the damn thing hurts my eyes. Windows font smoothing is much better, I regret to say (and I hate Windows XP).

    Also one hopes the general Really Slow problem will be reduced, but I'm not holding my breath. (Still using Bronze PB G3, yes, I know, shoot me.)

  • drop, what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dg93 ( 10261 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @12:44PM (#5782006) Homepage
    Got the drop? There was nothing in this article that hasn't been floating around the mac rumor sites for weeks now.
  • Leapfrogging? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brento ( 26177 ) < minus poet> on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @12:44PM (#5782007) Homepage features aimed at leapfrogging Microsoft.... Niceties include...a fast-user-switching-type feature, and easy transferral of home directories among devices and the Web.

    Not to troll, but if they're thinking they can leapfrog with user switching and roaming home directories, they need to jump a lot higher than that. User switching came with XP, and roaming home directories has been in since 2000. My home directory syncs automatically between my desktop & laptop & other home workstation, and it's been brain-free for years with Windows 2000 Server.
  • Re:Leapfrogging? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alernon ( 91859 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @12:50PM (#5782066) Homepage
    Well, that sentence was most likely the work of the articles author and not any source at Apple. I think it's just badly written/researched. The author probably just picked a couple of features out without even checking if these were the ones that were meant to surpass Windows in usability.
  • hm? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Neophytus ( 642863 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @12:50PM (#5782070)
    easy transferral of home directories among devices and the Web

    Keeping copies of your home directory on the web at the moment would seem to me impractical as many/most 'home users' still use a 56k modem which would make synchronisation of anything more than your office documents a bit of a joke.

    Once you have broadband then you encounter the problem of web storage and assosiated costs. Most providers won't let you host illegal files to cover their own arses, and more than a few hundred MB is rare on most traditional web hosting packages. I see a market for a premium file mirroring monopoly here, jump onboard before AOL takes over!
  • Re:Leapfrogging? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @12:54PM (#5782098) Journal
    Actually, the submitter said that. The article specifically mentions that the features are intended to catch up with XP.
  • Piles? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LippyTheLip ( 582561 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @12:57PM (#5782125)
    From the article: In addition, sources said Panther will finally mark the debut of the much-discussed "piles" GUI design concept, which Apple patented in June 2001. According to the patent, piles comprise collections of documents represented graphically in stacks. Users can browse the "piled" documents dynamically by pointing at them with the cursor; the filing system can then divide a pile into subpiles based on each document's content. At the user's request, the filing system can automatically file away documents into existing piles with similar content.

    I must have missed the "much-discussed" piles conecpt on /. Can someone enlighten me, please?

    How does this differ from a hierarchical filing system? Aren't my directories "piles of related documents"? Does ths just automate filing by indexing the content or am I missing something?
  • Re:hm? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrpuffypants ( 444598 ) <mrpuffypants&gmail,com> on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @12:58PM (#5782136)
    hell, even over broadband it'd be annoying to have to sync my home directory with the .mac server... I've got at least 1GB of things in my Documents folder, almost 10GB in music, and god knows how much in the movies dir.

    on another note, has anybody else noticed how much /. is reporting Apple news lately? I sense that this company is going to come back and really, really big...
  • by diatonic ( 318560 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @12:59PM (#5782146) Homepage
    Apple does a much better job at font smoothing than Microsoft's Cleartype. Even though my main display is the 1280x854 hi-res PowerBook display, even when I mirror it to a CRT it looks a lot better than Cleartype in XP. I do think that Cleartype is (imnsho) superb to the anti-aliasing in xfs however.

  • by BluGuy ( 617572 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @01:00PM (#5782153)
    Dude, lighten up. You're using equiptment that is at the bottom end of the spectrum for OS X. You're complaining about smoothing on an old LCD, and speed on an old CPU. If you want compare the two, try running XP on a sub gigahertz PC with a 15" CRT. I'm sure you're complain about it being Really Slow and hurting your eyes.
  • Re:hm? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Wesley Felter ( 138342 ) <> on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @01:02PM (#5782176) Homepage
    I suspect by "the Web" they mean .Mac.
  • damn rumormongers (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pelorus ( 463100 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @01:10PM (#5782229)
    Apple hasn't said they'd ship any of this...

    And if they don't, why it'll be Apple "failed" to ship them.

    Isn't there a cull on journalists sometime?

  • Hype? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Obiwan Kenobi ( 32807 ) <evan&misterorange,com> on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @01:13PM (#5782256) Homepage
    Um, where's the content? Where's the screenshots? Looks like a press release in sheeps clothing to me.

    "Yeah, it's got this feature and this one too...and it's gonna whoop up on Longhorn! Woohoo!"

    Other than a feature list, which can be found in many other places, and some that aren't confirmed yet, this look like hype to me with little to back it up...
  • by addaon ( 41825 ) <> on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @01:20PM (#5782316)
    I suspect that the subpixel algorithm assumes that an LCD has stripes in the order RGB... and, IIRC, the bronze G3 has GRB stripes, meaning that it's setting the wrong subpixels. What they really need is an algorithm that can adapt to this situation... but apparently it's a small enough population of their market that it's not worth the effort, and (AFAIK) /every/ color LCD is RGB order right now.
  • by iJed ( 594606 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @01:25PM (#5782358) Homepage
    There is currently very little real information on Panther at this point. The only thing we really know for a fact is that it will be called 10.3 (since Jordan Hubbard said so in an interview). Other than this the only information comes from LoopRumors [], MacOSRumors [] (dodgy), Mac Rumors [] and maybe one or two others. The information from these sites can range from dead on to absolute rubbish.
  • by jeblucas ( 560748 ) <jeblucas&gmail,com> on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @01:38PM (#5782483) Homepage Journal
    Obviously, all this news is caveated by rumoritis. But I like the pile concept (as so thoughtfully illustrated by a previous poster). I think it's an intuitive and well-thought-out way to organize things. Sure, some folks will think it's adding to clutter, but if you saw my office you'd think it was a disaster area--but a disaster area that I can navigate very effectively. I can reach into a stack of paper and pull out the invoice I need because I know where it is. I wouldn't mind having my computer organized this way at all.

    I want to remind people to check out this article [] as well, and keep this in mind as you hear about possible new features.

  • by edwdig ( 47888 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @01:42PM (#5782521)
    I could see the registry explaination almost making sense during startup. But an app isn't going to re-read a preference every time it draws a UI widget. It'll read them all in at startup and store them.

    Also, searching thru 10 megs of data for the registry is definately going to be slower than reading and parsing a 2k text file, especially if you're actually using all the info in the text config file.

    A more likely explaination of why Windows GUI apps are faster is because of how GDI resources work. All the UI in your app gets copied into GDI's memory space, which runs in kernel space. Of course, the problem with this approach is GDI resources are rather limited (altho they seem to increase in each Windows release). Ever see your icons turn black? Or open a new window and the toolbar isn't showing up? That means you ran out of GDI resources.
  • Re:Leapfrogging? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nadador ( 3747 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @02:03PM (#5782747)
    > Not to troll, but if they're thinking they can
    > leapfrog with user switching and roaming home
    > directories, they need to jump a lot higher than
    > that. User switching came with XP, and roaming
    > home directories has been in since 2000. My home
    > directory syncs automatically between my desktop
    > laptop & other home workstation, and it's been
    > brain-free for years with Windows 2000 Server.

    Not to troll, but NFS has been letting my home directory roam from station to station since it made it out of the lab at Sun in 1984.
    Thanks to Google: rld/WEBSI TES/NFS/nfshistory.html

    But you are correct. Fast user switching and roaming home directories do not an intuitive desktop make. (Actually, that sounds like UNIX, cerca 1984. But I digress.)

    The point the eWeek writer was trying (badly) to make is that Apple is rumored to be implementing the foundations of intuitive, pervasive computing that Microsoft is likely to shoehorn into Longhorn.

    From Microsoft's perspective, computer's always existed as disconnected nodes, hence their late (and rather loud) entry into all things internet-enabled. (Speaking of which, naming something ".Net" was the epitomy of this internet obsession that is Microsoft's reaction to how they missed the burgeoning of the internet and allowed someone else - Netscape - to challenge their strangle hold on personal computing. But I digress again.)

    So, in Microsoft's mind, the only way to have "pervasive" computing is to extend the PC experience, so that your PC can follow you around. Its not so much that data lives on the network (as a properly NFSed or even better, AFSed, network might work on a corporate plant site), but that your data will follow you around from PC to PC, if you so choose.

    Apple, by way of its BSD folk, understands that this is silly, and that data should just live on the network, hence iDisk is a main selling point of .Mac, and iDisks can be mounted as a normal drive under Mac OS and Windows, and seen as folders on the web, etc.

    Apple also understands that whatever decision Microsoft makes, it will be held liable in the court of public tech opinion if it doesn't do it the same way.

    So, this is just a long way of saying that what the eWeek write meant to say is that Apple is going to implement a boat load of stuff that Microsoft is planning for Longhorn, so as to make those "features" a moot point.
  • >User-centered doesn't mean I am forbidden by all means of booting into OS 9 when I need to

    Please. The sooner OS9 is forgotten, the better. I understand that there are devices, and applications that haven't been brought forward - Quark for example, and many scanners and printers. That doesn't mean Apple should have to maintain one modern OS, and one legacy OS.

    Microsoft doesn't support Win3.1 for a reason, you know. Granted MS did a better job of making printers and scanners work, but the point remains.
  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @02:30PM (#5782977) Homepage Journal
    Why not just have people who know they will want to upgrade subscribe to the OS (say, at a reduced rate maybe)?

    How do you know if you're going to want to upgrade? If it comes out and it's worth $129 to you, buy it (for $79 or $99 from Amazon, of course); if it's not worth it, or especially if it sucks, don't upgrade - your computer will still work fine, and they'll keep releasing the security patches you need for quite a while.
  • by Mean_Nishka ( 543399 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @03:46PM (#5783584) Homepage Journal
    I'm sorry but I really don't think people are going to pick up on these new fangled approaches to file management.

    The hierarchal model - which incidently emulates a low tech FILING CABINET which everybody uses - still cannot be figured out by most users.

    It's astounding but true.. So any 'new thinking' is likely to be met with new confusion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @03:49PM (#5783613)
    They created the idea in the early 90's, so yes apple invented the idea before windows could probably use a scanner.
  • Re:I just want... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pressman ( 182919 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @03:53PM (#5783642) Homepage
    I'd ignore you as well if you reported it as a bug. "click to focus" has been the standard on the mac for almost 20 years. I'm a very experienced computer user and "focus follows mouse" drives me absolutely batty. That's just my preference and the preference of the vast majority of computer users.

    That said... maybe if you put it in as a feature request that could be activated as a system preference... well then you might just get somewhere. If you're not snide about these things, you just might find that they'll take you a bit more seriously.

    And yes, i realize this was probably intended to be a humorous post, but even as a joke, there are probably people who seriously take such stupidly non-diplomatic approaches to dealing with Apple or any other software developer.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @04:16PM (#5783853)
    That's some profound logic you got there. "No point in trying something new because the old way doesn't work."
  • Re:Leapfrogging? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ryan Amos ( 16972 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @04:49PM (#5784127)
    What Apple seems to be doing is taking all the really good ideas that came out of the dot-com era (p2p, home media creation, etc) and making them marketable and usable. All these great things we've been promised (home burning of DVDs, the iPod, internet purchase of music, the "computer of the future") have been what Apple is delivering. They basically make products that are almost sci-fi cool. Except they're real and you can buy them now if you can afford them. Apple's big thing is the "digital lifestyle," the iPod was only the first step (and why you keep hearing rumors of Apple branded cell phones and PDAs) Apple, while not free computing, gives me exactly the kind of things I want without sacrificing the cool little touches (lots of blue blinky LEDS on a rackmount server? woo) that make Apple's stuff REALLY cool. You have to use OS X for a good period of time before you realize exactly how much thought went into making things work the way they do, but once you do, it's like "Wow, that makes sense, why didn't I think of that?" It looks cool, it's powerful as all hell, yet easy enough for a child to use. Apple makes products for the masses, but they leave enough power under the hood for us geeks to tinker with. That's something hard to do. :)
  • Re:Leapfrogging? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by feldsteins ( 313201 ) <> on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @04:51PM (#5784144) Homepage
    you might want to get your head out of Steve Job's ass

    Whoah there buddy. Is that really necessary?

    And I use "did you know" with my Mac users far more often than I do with my Windows users.

    I agree that most computer users don't know what they are doing, regardless of platform. But there's no use in denying that when Apple does something they usually don't bother until/unless they have made it highly accessible to novices. Take DV editing. Sure you could do it before, but it was so complicated that almost nobody did. Now it's different.

    And why would you want them to hide a wonderful feature?

    Primarily because I have no desire to field the support calls from people who need to be told that their computer is slower today because their son logged out leaving a Quake III server running. Because most people will not understand the consequences of this feature.

    calling OS X new and original is a load of crap. It's new to the Mac hardware, but it's all old ideas.

    Well I'd say the main "new" thing about OS X is the fact that nobody has ever had a unix GUI worth a damn before. That's new enough.
  • Re:I just want... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MojoMonkey ( 444942 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @05:09PM (#5784354) Homepage
    You have to remember there is a MAJOR problem with focus follows mouse concept in OS X. The menu bar is at the top of the SCREEN not the top of the window. This means if you want to select a menu item, you move to the top of the screen... guess what, the mouse cursor just popped out of the window, and possibly onto another window. And now the menu that you were moving to is no longer the one you want.
  • Re:hm? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Alan Partridge ( 516639 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @05:14PM (#5784386) Journal
    it's just because Mac users are more willing to actually PAY for stuff with enhanced functionality
  • by Moofie ( 22272 ) <> on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @08:38PM (#5786044) Homepage
    Who the hell cares about how the files are ACTUALLY stashed away? Should I remember the cylinder address of whatever file I want to start modifying?

    OF COURSE it's an organizational metaphor. What on a GUI screen isn't? The only question is whether it's more or less useful than other metaphors for more or less humans.
  • Re:hm? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gig ( 78408 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2003 @09:37PM (#5786344)
    Who else is making news in computers these days? Everywhere else it is all lawyers and poor excuses for the same old half-assed shit.

    The Apple platform has made more progress in the past two years than MS Windows has made in the last eight years since Windows 95. The Mac stopped crashing altogether, is UNIX-compatible, Java2 with all the trimmings, an updated API and a new object-oriented API, next-generation graphics system and so much more, while you can receive an email and lose your MS Windows system at any time. From top to bottom the Windows platform looks like a joke right now after all these years of "it will be stable soon". Remember when they delayed Windows 2000 and left out features just to "concentrate on fixing bugs and improving reliability" because people were demanding it. Now, a really advanced user can set up a halfway-decent Windows XP machine, but even they can't get close to the quality of a Mac, and for regular users, they are in a completely different world if they get a Gateway instead of an iMac as far as what they can do with it, and what they will have to do to admin it (almost nothing for the iMac, even adding hardware and apps is dead easy, just drag and drop at the most, and often it just works even without that.
  • by gig ( 78408 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:12AM (#5787705)
    When people talk about Mac OS X being slow, they are talking about a lack of interface responsiveness because of the double-buffered and 32-bit composited display. Nothing ever appears out of thin air. It's drawn in a buffer and then composited with your current display.

    An analogy is that you could watch a 2-hour movie in 1:45 if you took out all the wipe transitions and just went boom, boom, boom between scenes. Technically this is faster, but it is not better. The way MS Windows is doing its display and interactivity it is cheating all the time. Once you get used to Mac OS X it is like looking at real stuff and interacting with it and you get used to the fact that a window slides away and your pace matches it quite easily.

    It is not slow at the kernel level. Real-time multimedia stuff is amazing. Lots of audio tracks, lots of videos, you can really move data around in real-time with low, low latencies that can't be achieved with MS Windows. Also Mac OS X is fast at waking up from sleep so you can close and open your PowerBook all day long with no penalty. It also does a lot of things automatically that you would have to hand-hold a Windows machine. Also one crash per year and the thing runs 24/7 other than that really saves time over a Windows machine. Application admin and security audits and software updates are all also much quicker in Mac OS X. Apps usually work first time and don't break later at all. Very time-saving.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @06:08AM (#5788066)

    Maybe because case-sensitivity is a stupid carry-on from UNIX filesystems. How the hell do you explain to a new user that the files 'MyFile', 'MYFile', 'MYFILE', 'myfile' and 'myFile' are all different files? What OS X does is case-preservation without case-sensitivity, so you can save as 'myFile' for example, but all other combinations such as 'MyFIlE' refer to that file. It makes more sense, and I've been a UNIX user for 15 years.

    By the way, this does knacker up LWP-Perl which insists on having a /usr/bin/HEAD command that screws around with /usr/bin/head, which I think goes to prove my point. Why should a system have two differently operating commands that have the same name and location and only differ in case? It's completely braindead.

    Of course, if you need it for UNIX development, you can make a UFS disk image in Disk Copy, mount it and work on your code in that Volume which will be completely case-sensitive.

    Wilfredo Sanchez of Apple wrote a paper on this and other HFS+ vs UFS issues for USENIX, and you can read it here [].

System checkpoint complete.