Despite having no friends, no life, no education no job, and no prospects, despite the war in Iraq, a plunging dollar, the looming energy crisis, global warming, and the sheer horror of being alive in this day and age, this morning, I woke up happy, for today would be my most exciting review: OSX 10.5 was being released.
I am not normally one to get excited about reviewing a product, especially if it is my first time using it; usually there is a feeling of trepidation about stepping outside my comfort zone, but today, it is notably absent. Perhaps because I have been following this product since its inception, living the Apple lifestyle in preparation, and becoming fully engrossed by the user community. The experience has been like a second birth to me, and the release of 10.5 is the wonderful culmination.
But I should back up. For those of you who have been living normal, healthy lives, 10.5, also known as the Leopard is the single most anticipated OSX release of all time, packed with 300 new features that would surely leave its competitors (the monolithic Microsoft and agile Linux) stunned and possibly bleeding as it whizzes by in a blur of growing market share and spots.
Apple Inc., the Cupertino-based personal electronics company behind the Leopard, burst into the public view in 2001 with the introduction of the phenomenally popular iPod music player. Apple then followed up that success with the iPhone brand cellular phone, which has sold a whopping 1.4 million units since its summer debut. Today, Apple hopes to leverage that success to bootstrap its long-stagnant personal computing platform, the Mac.
For the last decade, the Mac has maintained a relatively constant 5% share of the global computing market. In recent months, however, increasing disillusionment with the new Microsoft Vista operating system has pushed more and more people into Apple's open arms, but the uptake has been slow. The release of the Leopard, Apple hopes, will be the impetus for users to peek beyond the simple familiarity of Windows. Drawn by the prospect of a bigger and better world, they will slowly venture beyond their thatched grass huts into the thrilling unknown. The Leopard will then snatch them up and drag them into its stylish and intuitive tree to feast.
Or so it is planned. But will Apple be able to succeed where so many others have failed? Will it finally be able to wrest control of the desktop from the Monopolist? Yes, of course. But it is my duty as a reviewer to show, not just tell. So join me as I prepare to drink deeply of the Steve Jobs Kool-Aid and plunge myself into the Leopard, to prove this Apple revolution is truly the way of the future.
Part 1: Getting OSX
The cold rain pours down outside, but under the glass roof of the Christiana Mall, it is warm and dry. Twenty yards away is the only Apple Store for miles, and consequently where one must go for the latest Apple releases.
Though I had arrived early, there is already a sizable line, stretching back to where I find myself now. The head of it, I am told, had been waiting since early morning, growing progressively more excited as the day wore on. His manic energy is infectious, it seems, and the light buzz of excitement percolating through the crowd quickly set my nerves on edge in the best possible way. This, I reflect, is better than most drugs.
I strike up conversation with the man waiting impatiently in front of me. When I ask him what he intends to do with the Leopard when he brings it home, he stares at me for twenty minutes. His steady gaze says more than any words could, and when he tells me he will teach it to love, and then maybe make a movie, I weep for the sheer joy that wells up in my heart. He holds me, understanding.
The excitement has reached an almost painful level. It is a silent buzz permeating the very air; the crowd is like a swarm of angry bees awaiting a software release, but there is no danger of being stung. My chest begins to throb. Is this how it feels?
The anticipation builds higher and higher as the seconds crawl by. I thought it had been painful before, but now it is agonizing, dreadful, pre-orgasmic. The crowd begins to murmur and I feel the fabric of reality cracking.
And, suddenly, the buzz is cut off: a store manager, black-shirted, goateed, and chiseled like a Greek god, has stepped out, and is waiting to address the crowd. There is instant silence, not even the sound of breathing. The surrounding mall, too, is quiet, as though grasping the gravity of the situation.
Apple's local Adonis speaks in a whisper, but everyone can hear:
"Mac OSX 10.5 Leopard... is on sale..."
Oh God, release.
The women moan and the men shudder. I go weak at the knees and drop down, thanking Jobs for the simple gift of being alive to witness this moment, and I am not alone.
One by one, we stand, reforming the original line, and slowly thread into the store. There is no hurry, no urgency in our movements. That moment has passed; this is the afterglow.
I stand at the counter dedicated to this event. I had often come here, in my fantasies, but no amount of dreaming could ever measure up...
"One copy," I say, slapping $129 onto the counter, "Of the Leopard."
He smiles. Not the store policy smile of the world-weary cashier that has been on his feet far too long. No, he is genuinely happy as he reaches back and pulls a box from the stack; this job means something.
"Welcome to the fold, oh my brother," he says, holding out the box. He leans forward and plants a kiss on my forehead as I accept the prized software. Our fingers brush, and it is love. I smile sadly, for I cannot stay; he smiles, for he forgives me.
The box is heavy in my hands. No, not heavy; sturdy, powerful, as though the beast contained within was projecting itself beyond the confines of its cardboard prison. Or perhaps it was the weight of newfound brotherhood.
All through the drive home I kept glancing over at the box, halfway worried that if I took my eyes off it for too long, it would disappear, like a dream. I shielded it from the rain with my body on the way to the car, and again on the way inside.
I don't even kick off my shoes, instead running straight to my laptop and powering it on.
I sit down in front of the glowing screen and gingerly opened the Leopard box. I tip it over, and the DVD comes out; I like to think I didn't imagine the small roar that accompanied it. There is no manual, a testament to the operating system's ease of use.
The disk itself is simple, and deceptively light. I pick it up gingerly an insert it into my computer's drive. I shiver in anticipation as it begins to spin up. This is the moment, finally, that I had been waiting for...
Part 2: Installation
An error message?
My laptop is an HP. Not a Mac. So OSX won't work. At all. On the other hand, the packaging is nice.