Windows tech writer Thurrott reviews Apple’s Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger

Paul Thurrott starts out his so-called “Apple Mac OS X 10.4 ‘Tiger’ Review” for his eponymous “SuperSite for Windows” with a confession that rings hollow. Thurrott writes, “Allow me to make a confession that may surprise you. I’ve been a Mac fan my entire life.”

MacDailyNews Take: Does being a “Mac fan” actually require a “confession” as if it were some sort of sin? We guess that if you happen to run a site called “SuperSite for Windows,” it must.

Thurrott’s confession reveals that in 1987, he purchased an Apple IIGS for “an exorbitant amount even by today’s standards.” Thurrott writes that his Apple IIGS “was a work of beauty, allowing the Apple II line to go out on a high note, even as the company basically abandoned the product.” Thurrott writes, “I eventually moved to various Amiga systems and then, faced with Commodore biting the Big One in the early 1990’s, I moved, unhappily, to the PC. I did everything I could to avoid Microsoft for two years, opting for IBM’s doomed OS/2 for a while. But with Windows 95, Microsoft finally got its act together, and the rest, as they say, is history.” Thurrott explains that he purchased his “first-ever Macintosh in August 2001… specifically to test Mac OS X.” Thurrott also writes, “I often wondered what might have been had I adopted the Mac 20 years ago. Would I have stuck with it?”

MacDailyNews Take: Well now, that explains a lot. Thurrott admits dropping an “exorbitant amount even by today’s standards” on an Apple IIGS that Apple “basically abandoned.” Apple did abandon the Apple IIGS — the ultimate Apple II machine which was introduced in 1986 and ran the advanced-for-its-time GS/OS — in favor of the Macintosh. The Apple IIGS was finally discontinued in December 1992. We’ve met a few Apple II users who hung on way longer than they should have and many of them probably felt abandoned by Apple. You really can’t blame them as Apple IIGS owners spent around US$999 (US$1711.28 adjusted for inflation) for the base machine and Thurrott must have spent around $400-$500 (guestimate, adjusted for inflation) for the extra 512KB RAM plus the additional costs of the peripherals. Some of them sucked it up and moved to the Mac platform while others could never really get over it and swore they’d never purchase another Apple product as long as they lived. We don’t know how Paul feels personally, but, while not impossible, it’s hard to imagine anyone being much of a “Mac fan” after being abandoned by Apple and subsequently avoiding the Mac platform for the next fourteen or so years with Amiga, OS/2, and Windows 95 until finally purchasing their first Mac in August 2001. Thurrott explains that he had narrowed his choices in 1987 to the Apple IIGS or a Mac Plus. We, too, wonder what might have been if Paul had chosen the latter instead of the former. And, was Paul really just three years old when he bought that exorbitantly priced Apple IIGS? If not, there’s no way for him to have been a “Mac fan” for his entire life.

Thurrott “reviews” Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger with often comical results, such as his description of “the reviled Dock, which is used to switch between running applications and, confusingly, non-running applications.” Thurrott claims that “Tiger (version 10.4) was then delayed from late 2004 to the first half of 2005,” although Apple first previewed Tiger on June 28, 2004 and stated that day that they would ship Tiger “in the first half of 2005.” Tiger ships on April 29, 2005.

Thurrott spends a copious amount of space on detailing the cost of each previous Mac OS X version as if mentally adding the costs on top of his unfortunate Apple IIGS outlay and writes, “Tiger is a minor revision, like all previous OS X updates.”

Thurrott writes, “Contrary to Apple’s hyperbolic claims of ‘200 new features,’ Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger includes, in my opinion, only two major new features, Spotlight and Dashboard, and both were clearly influenced by other existing products and services.” Of Spotlight, Thurrott concludes, “Not coincidentally, Microsoft is working on similar, if further-reaching, technology for Longhorn. Apple’s solution, however, is here right now and it appears to work quite well. Score one for Apple.”

MacDailyNews Take: We’re not sure what Thurrott means by “further-reaching,” nor are we sure if Thurrott knows what he means either, as he never explains the statement. Perhaps, due to the vaporous nature of Windows Longhorn, Microsoft must have to reach much further into the ether to figure out how to implement system-wide search capabilities into an OS that’s so rigidly shackled to the concept of backwards compatibility with previous and current Windows versions. Score one for Apple, indeed.

Thurrott continues, calling Tiger’s Dashboard feature “hard to classify” and writing that Apple has gotten into “in a bit of trouble because it so closely mimics a third party solution called Konfabulator.” We’re unaware of any “trouble” Apple has gotten into over this, especially since Dashboard doesn’t “mimic” Konfabulator. Oh, heck, this is boring. Just read this: Dashboard vs. Konfabulator, it explains it all.

Thurrott then covers what he terms “minor updates,” including Safari RSS, iChat AV, Mail 2 and complains, as usual, that he has to “pay to upgrade to the Pro version” of QuickTime 7. Damn that Apple IIGS decision!

Thurrott winds down by writing such gems as, “Mac OS X 10.4 ‘Tiger’ is, in fact, a minor upgrade to an already well-designed and rock-solid operating system. It will not change the way you use your computer at all, and instead uses the exact same mouse and windows interface we’ve had since the first Mac debuted in 1984. That isn’t a complaint about Tiger, per se: It’s a high-quality release. But Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) was arguably a bigger advance over the initial release of XP than Tiger is over Mac OS X 10.3.”

Tiger “isn’t a big enough upgrade over previous OS X releases to warrant much excitement. Once you get past the few major new features–primarily Spotlight and Dashboard, neither one of which exactly changes the competitive landscape very much–there’s very little real meat in Tiger,” Thurrott writes. “This is particularly problematic for Apple’s goal of getting Windows users to switch to the Mac. In my opinion, the coolness factor of Apple’s iPod and Mac hardware is far more compelling than Mac OS X itself. The Mac mini and iMac, therefore, will likely cause more people to switch (or at least use both Windows XP and the Mac) than any improvements in Tiger. Don’t get me wrong, please: Again, Tiger is a solid release. It’s just not a major upgrade. And it’s certainly not worth $129.”

Thurrott wraps up by writing that Tiger is “a worthy competitor to Windows XP. Though it is marketed by Apple as a major release, Tiger is in fact a minor upgrade with few major new features, more akin to what we’d call a service pack in the Windows world. However, that won’t stop Apple fans from flocking to Apple Stores on April 29 and standing in line to buy it, even at its inflated $129 price.” Thurrott does zing Microsoft with the closing line, “And unlike Longhorn, it’s shipping now. What a concept.”

Full review here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple still pays the price for abandoning certain segments of customers in the past (ask any Newton user) and would do well to print out this “review” and post it in the boardroom in order to keep the ramifications of such momentous decisions in mind. We can’t help wondering, if Apple would reimburse Paul for his Apple IIGS costs plus interest, would we be able to get a real review of Tiger out of Paul or would he just blow the cash on some box assembler’s PC to run Windows XP?

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Microsoft’s Windows Longhorn will bear more than just a passing resemblance to Apple’s Mac OS X – April 15, 2005
Analyst: ‘Microsoft’s Longhorn is going to have hard time upstaging Apple’s Mac OS X Tiger’ – April 13, 2005
Analyst: Apple in ‘position to exploit Microsoft missteps, claim leadership’ with Mac OS X Tiger – April 13, 2005
Apple’s Schiller: Mac OS X Tiger ‘has created even more distance between us and Microsoft’ – April 13, 2005
Will Mac OS X Tiger add fuel to Apple’s recent momentum in the computer business? – April 13, 2005
Why doesn’t Apple advertise Mac OS X on TV? – April 12, 2005
Analyst: Tiger proves ‘Apple is light years ahead of Microsoft in developing PC operating systems’ – April 12, 2005
Apple to ship Mac OS X ‘Tiger’ on Friday, April 29; pre-orders start today – April 12, 2005
Apple Announces Mac OS X Server ‘Tiger’ to ship Friday, April 29 with 64-bit application support – April 12, 2005
Analysts: Apple’s new Tiger operating system could really impact Mac sales – April 12, 2005
Piper Jaffray raises Apple estimates on Mac OS X ‘Tiger’ release news – April 12, 2005
Apple’s Mac OS X ‘Tiger’ vs. Microsoft’s Windows ‘Longhorn’ – March 31, 2005
New Microsoft Longhorn chief was former Pepto-Bismol brand manager – March 18, 2005
Microsoft’s Longhorn fantasy vs. Apple’s Mac OS X reality – September 14, 2004
Is Microsoft’s stripped-down ‘Longhorn’ worth waiting for? – September 10, 2004
Silicon Valley: Apple CEO Steve Jobs previews ‘Longhorn’ – June 29, 2004
PC Magazine: Microsoft ‘Longhorn’ preview shows ‘an Apple look’ – May 06, 2004
Microsoft concerned that Longhorn’s look and feel will be copied if revealed too soon – August 25, 2003
Windows ‘Longhorn’ to add translucent windows that ripple and shrink by 2005 – May 19, 2003


  1. This is like listening to some guy who bought and has driven a Dodge Dart comparing it to a new Lamborghini and trying to justify his purchase by downplaying all the good features of the Lamborghini and finding as many little flaws as he can so he can feel good about said purchase. This is amazing. It’s like he’s holding back. C’mon paul, you can do it. Be honest with yourself. You love Mac OS X Tiger. Admit it, and your journey to recovery will begin…

  2. What the f@#$ is Paul writing about the Mac on that site for?! Windows’ apologists must be scratching their heads at his schizophrenic behaviour.

    I’d much prefer it if MDN ceased linking to Paul Thurrott.

    Having initially checked Paul’s opinions, over the years I have come to realize that he has very few valid points and is often a mindless shill for his masters at Microsoft.

    Linking to PT only ascribes him a validity and importance he should not be receiving.

  3. Although I can only go by what I’ve read on the web, the majority of the changes in Tiger happen under the hood. The way the I/O kit works, for example, or the way the pipelines to the processors are handled. Panther, as with all previous OSX versions, is limited to two processors due to architectural problems in OSX’s BSD layers. Tiger is supposed to be far more scalable. Add in the improved 64-bit application handling, and the list of 200 features actually specified by Apple, and the differences between Tiger and Panther are enormous.

    Of course, if like Paul you have a G4 iMac, these architectural differences may not be at first obvious. But anyone with a dual machine, especially if it’s a G5, will see them easily. And the hardware that is coming over the next couple of years is going to use these changes big time.

  4. macdaily could sell some ad space to the makers of advil right here. everytime i read the insanity and propaganda that comes out of thurrott’s mouth my head throbs to the point of wanting to tear my face off!!

  5. H.264 is missing. Mentioning the clear superiority of that would piss off MS to no end since media formats are the new OS wars. He played it safe.

    The dude is a shill. A backhanded complement.

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