OS X Leopard - don't believe the hype

How does it go: The devil's biggest trick was convincing the world that he did not exist?

Perhaps Apple's biggest trick is convincing the world that their products 'just work'. Slick ads, clever product placement and their own website explicitly tell us that 'It just works'. If my experience as a recent switcher from Windows and Ubuntu is anything to go by, this simply is not true.

I previously wrote about my experience with OS X Tiger on my girlfriend's Mac Mini. To summarise, it was far easier for me to play proprietary (yes, Windows based) media on Ubuntu Feisty than OS X. I vigorously questioned how an operating system that cost quite a pretty penny could be out performed on an ease-of-use basis by an operating system that cost nada. Judging by the number of you who read and left comments on that post, many of you vigorously agreed.

Despite my scorn, I still bought a MacBook. Seduced by the beautiful form factor, the growing body of positive industry reviews and the value of the dollar against the pound (I took advantage of a trip to the states to snaffle what I thought to be a minor bargain) I took the plunge. And to be fair, I still find the hardware to be, in isolation, exquisite.

I also looked at the current state of Windows and Ubuntu (and wider Linux) and found them to be wanting. And I was not going to purchase a lovely new piece of hardware only to have it host the tried and true but old-aged and less than venerable XP.

Soon after my purchase, however, the OS X bugs set in. Let's have a look at them, in no particular order:
  • When Leopard first came out, the keyboard would randomly stop working and would only start working again after I hit the tab key. Whispers on the Internet thought this was a hardware problem but Apple fixed it on the release of the 10.5.2 update. So if they fixed it why am I complaining, I hear you ask. Because for months I thought I had a dud and Apple did nothing to address my concerns or the concerns of the myriad people expressed across the Internet
  • The 10.5.2 update fixed my keyboard, which was great. But now my wifi does not work, Specifically, my wifi works in just one room in my house (the kitchen, for the record, which is by no means the room that is closest to my wifi router). Now, you might be inclined to blame the router (a Billion product, FYI), but not only did I update the router firmware but if I put a laptop running Windows, a Mac Mini running Tiger, a Nokia N800 running ... whatever Linux it runs, and my my problematic MacBook into the same room as my router all of the other machines work just fine but my MacBook loses the wifi signal. If I turn off all electrics in the room bar the MacBook and the router things are no different. Turning off my cordless phone makes no difference. Nor does trying every wifi channel available to me. This did not happen prior to the 10.5.2 update.
  • Both Firefox and Safari crash far more often than I have experienced on both Windows and Ubuntu
  • Software updates occasionally cause OS X to crash. I don't recall this happening in Windows ever and rather less regularly in Ubuntu
Much is made about the tight integration of Apple software and hardware. Given my experience I have to question the implied synergies.

Further, I have to question why not more is made of this. Type in any of the abovementioned issues into Google and you will find my problems are not isolated ones. Not by some margin.

Yes, Apple have pulled off a handy trick indeed., , , , ,