Most consumers thinking about buying Apple’s (AAPL) new Leopard operating system will learn what they need to know from the first wave of reviews — the ones written by journalists who were given pre-loaded, pre-release copies of OS X 10.5 and had a week to play with it.
But the review that programmers were waiting for was the one by fellow developer John Siracusa, the Ars Technica columnist who wrote the definitive assessments of the previous five versions of OS X — and has been described as the guy who should be in charge of Finder development at Apple.
Siracusa took careful notes at the Apple developers conferences and has been living with Leopard since the first seed was released. His review came out on Sunday, and it’s a doozy — long, deep, painstaking detailed, and unafraid to call ’em like he sees ’em.
He lays out his criteria right at the top:
True to his word, Siracusa gives us two reviews — a user’s view of the look and feel of the OS and a developer’s view of the stuff going on under the hood.
The stuff under the hood gets high marks. The terms that come up over and over are “sensible,” “pragmatic” and “compromise.” A typical summary graph:
About the hood itself, he’s not so kind. A hard taskmaster when it comes to user interfaces, Siracusa faults Apple again and again for choosing flash over usability. He sums up the problem — and speculates about its source — in two damning paragraphs:
Even if you never wrote or hope to write a line of code, you’ll learn a lot about Apple, its operating systems and the future of Macintosh applications from reading Siracusa. Highly recommended.