Apple’s Leopard: The Reviews Are In by Philip Elmer-DeWitt @FortuneMagazine October 25, 2007, 12:53 PM EDT E-mail Tweet Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share icons One could fault Apple (AAPL) for once again handing out advance copies of its new operating system upgrade only to journalists who depend on good relations with Steve Jobs to supplement their income, but let’s skip all that and go straight to the reviews: Walt Mossberg, Wall Street Journal (The D Conference) Headline: Leopard: Faster, Easier than Vista. Upgrade of Apple’s OS Isn’t Revolutionary, But It Beats Microsoft’s Favorite features: For me, the marquee features in Leopard are a new function called Time Machine that automatically backs up your entire computer in the background; two new methods, called Cover Flow and Quick Look, for rapidly viewing the contents of files without opening any programs; and new techniques that allow you to access the files in, and to remotely control, other computers on your network or connected over the Internet with a few clicks and no technical expertise. Drawbacks: The menu bar is now translucent, which can make it hard to see the items it contains if your desktop picture has dark areas at the top. The new folder icons are dull and flat and less attractive than Vista’s or their predecessors on the Mac. While Time Machine can perform backups over a network, the backup destination can only be a hard disk connected to a Mac running Leopard. And, on the Web, I ran into one site where the fonts on part of the page were illegible, a problem Apple says is known and rare and that I expect it will fix. Bottom line: Leopard isn’t a must-have for current Mac owners, but it adds a lot of value. For new Mac buyers, it makes switching even more attractive. David Pogue, New York Times: ( Mac OS X Leopard: The Missing Manual ) Headline: Apple Offers New Goodies in Leopard System Favorite features: Time Machine, Quick Look, Spaces, parental controls, more polished Boot Camp, screen sharing, Web Clips, Wikipedia in the Dictionary, blue-screen iChat, invisibility mode Drawbacks: Stacks falls short when there are too many files; see-through menus hard to read; occasional glitches with Spaces Bottom line: Leopard is powerful, polished and carefully conceived. Happy surprises, and very few disappointments, lie around every corner. Edward C. Baig, USA Today: ( Macs for Dummies ) Headline: Leopard, Apple’s New Operating System, Hits All the Right Spots Favorite features: Time Machine, cool video chat, pretty e-mail, a dandy desktop, clipping widgets Drawbacks: Boot Camp still doesn’t let you run Windows and OS X simutaneously; it took many hours, and at least one hiccup, to back up a packed iMac. Bottom line: Leopard is one cool cat Simson Garfinkel: Technology Review ( NeXTSTEP Programming ) Headline: MacOS 10.5 offers easy file recovery, effective parental controls, and a host of clever, smaller features. Favorite features: Time Machine, Parental Controls, smart folders, Back to My Mac even works behind firewalls, file previews, synced notes, to-do lists, Stacks. Drawback: No way to remove a file from a Time Machine backup Bottom line: Worth the money if you value having a computer that’s fast and easy to use … But people who are thriftier than I would probably do better to hold off on this update. Newsweek‘s Steve Levy (Insanely Great, The Perfect Thing) did his review as a web video. You can see it here. Leopard goes on sale Friday, Oct. 26, at 6 p.m. local time. It’s available online and at Apple’s retail stores for $129.