First off, I'm very annoyed with myself for forgetting to write up my predictions before WWWDC 2006. I put this oversight down to the fact that I was on Holidays till today but I'm still annoyed, now you'll just have to take my word on what I predicted rather than having a post to prove it! Anyhow, in this post I'll just give you the highlights of the keynote and particularly the Leopard preview and also lay out some of my concerns.

The Hardware

Before getting into the meat and bones of the post I'll just start with a quick word on the new MacPro and XServe . Firstly, I had predicted both of these so I'm glad I got something right! The MacPro which started shipping yesterday is an mighty impressive beast. I have the pleasure of working on a Dual G5 PowerMac at work and although it's coming up to being a year old it is still a beast of a machine that I'm not even beginning to push the limits on. These new machines are between 1.5 and 2 times faster …. WOW! The addition of space for two more hard drives is a nice touch. Having 2 TB internal in your machine is impressive! I also like the fact that the enclosure was kept effectively the same. It ain't broken so I'm glad Apple didn't try to fix it. They tweaked it a little and I think what they did was good.

The XServe also looks very good. I'm expecting funding a for a new server soon and the chances are it will be an XServe so hopefully I'll be able to give a you a proper review of one of these beasts in a few months. The range of options is impressive and again the speed of these new machines is stunning, and all in a nice compact 1U enclosure too. I know it really doesn't matter what a server looks like but there is still something very impressive about a rack full of XServes that a rack full of Dells or Suns just don't have.

On to the Main Course – Leopard

OK, so the digs at MS were funny but lets hold off on the real slatting till Vista and Leopard are both out so we can put the two side by side and see for ourselves. The screen shots of the level of copying of OS X by Vista were eye-opening though. MS certainly seem to have realised that there is something to OS X and are trying hard to emulate it.

I was generally impressed by what I saw in the Leopard preview but one thing did disappoint, the text to speech thing. Yea, it was better, but it was still crap! We would seem to be a long way off getting this right. The fact that you could hear the software take fake breaths was a nice touch and the intonation at the start and end of sentences was also good but it still sounds like random words by different people crudely pasted together in GarageBand or similar.

So, time travel on your mac. TimeMachine , Apple's new backup tool sure looks slick. The concept is very sound, back things up at the moment they change rather than in bulk once a day or once a week or what ever. The fact that you can go back to old versions of files is also good and the interface is very logical and takes the wow factor of OS X to a whole new level. I just wonder how it will perform in real life and how much storage you're going need to get this to work well over an extended period of time. The other thing that worries me is privacy. It would appear to be impossible to actually genuinely remove a file from your machine. That worries me. If someone sends me a file that turns out to be in some way illegal there does not seem to be a way to actually get that file completely off your machine. Lets hope there is a "completely remove" option somewhere in TimeMachine or the Finder when this thing goes live. Another thing that is not clear to me is whether the external hard disk you want to back up to has to be permanently there or whether the updates get queued in some way while it's not connected and then automatically sync across when the disk is plugged back in. I have to say TimeMachine is the feature I think is the  most revolutionary, yet, also the one I have the most reservations about. Ironically, only time will tell!

When it comes to impressing me the most the prize has to go to iChat . It has gone form being a chat client to being a collaboration tool. Shared control of a single desktop while you chat with nothing more than your OS, no expensive third party apps, wow! That's one hell of a feature to offer 'out of the box'. That's raised the bar for Vista a touch! Then, add to that the feature that allows you to share video, slide shows or presentations via iChat while you discuss them, and you have an app that has the potential to make a real difference in the business and academic worlds. There is also a less serious side, the effects and the backdrops are cool, but rather pointless. Granted, the tech impresses me but I have to ask 'why?', if you're that ashamed of your room or office then perhaps you should tidy up for once!

The thing that just makes the most sense is the update to SpotLight . The advanced search has been called for by users for a long time, so thanks Apple for listening to us on this one! The ability to search other Macs and file servers is also nice and very much the next logical step. The changes to SpotLight are not dramatic but they are good and they continue to take SpotLight in the right direction. 

Finally, we come to the stuff that is just pure fun. It has no actual productivity value but hey, life isn't all work after all! What am I talking about? Dashboard of course! The new development platform, DashCode, looks very promising. Mind you I do see a downside, it will make it too easy to make widgets so we should expect a flood of useless crap to result! Sure, there'll be some gems in there too but the signal-to-noise ratio will probably go belly-up. The widget for turning bits of web pages into widgets is very slick though, I have no doubt it will get a lot of use.

I Didn't Buy all the Hype 

We also got to see some other stuff but it just didn't strike me as being that impressive or important. FrontRow being made available to old Macs with no remote and no IR port, pointless! BootCamp shipping as part of the OS … why bother? With virtualization software now available who on earth wants to waste their time dual booting? As for PhotoBooth, well, it's fun, it's quaint, but it's hardly a big deal! I also left out the stuff on Mail because it didn't really impress me that much. MS products have had stationary for years, not quite as shiny but this is hardly ground breaking stuff. Your email integrating with your calendar, to me this is not ground breaking but Apple playing catchup. Granted, being able to highlight some text in an email and then turn it into a todo is cool but again not Earth shattering in it's genius. I was interested to hear that iCal would be getting calendar sharing at last, but again, this is just Apple playing catchup.


Is Leopard looking more impressive than Vista, hell yes! Am I looking forward to it, definitely. Will it be a real improvement for the average user on a day-to-day basis, I think it will. In the end that's what matters. Steve said there would be many other cool new features so I fully expect OS X to remain the top OS out there from a user's point of view. There is no sign that Apple are loosing their touch, on the contrary, they seem to be going from strength to strength while the guys in Redmond just end up looking more and more silly the longer Vista takes to actually get out!