OS X 10.3 Panther Reviewed


After 10.2 Jaguar left me unsatisfied, I decided not to upgrade to the next
version upon announcement, but would rather wait ’till I would purchase a new
Mac, hoping Apple would release rev. B Dual G5s in Dec ’03 – Jan ’04. Several
months passed without new Dual G5 hardware releases from Apple (they did
announce the DP 2.5 G5 last week). So, a few weeks back, I took the plunge to
10.3
as I wanted to benefit from the updated Finder, Security, Network connectivity,
Safari and Mail.

One of the first things that everybody seems to
ask: “Is it worth the $129?” Hard to say, everybody has their own opinion on
that. I for one wasn’t excited when Steve Jobs said (with 10.2) there were 150
new features, so that’s less than $1 per feature. Sounds like a bargain ’till
you look at what some of those features are. Some were very standard things to
me that should have been in 10.0. But, when you look at some of the bigger
items, things seem to balance better. 10.3 is a similar story. All in all, I’d
rather see these OS X updates at $75. (read more)

The installation was in regular OS X fashion quick & painless. I
prefer clean OS installs (other options are upgrade and archive & install)
so I had moved & backed up all my personal stuff to another partition on the
hard drive. Started the installation. Opted out from some options (languages,
peripherals, …) to reduce the footprint. It prompted for the next discs. After
about a half hour I was online. Ran software update (10.3.4, security and
application updates) which took longer than the installation itself. About 45
minutes via broadband cable, while downloading the latest versions of some of my
favorite utilities and installing the first things.

What’s to like
about Panther?
– It’s swift (interestingly it can boot-up using only 88MB
of RAM)
– Finder: shortcut bar in the left column, improved network
browsing, eject buttons
– Expose: fast overview & switching between
open applications / windows
– Fast User Switching: for families &
people with multiple personalities ;)
– Improved Application
Switching
– Faxing: basic software fax machine
– Font Book: little
font viewer
– Preview: faster previewing than with 10.2
– updates to
Safari, Mail Address Book and iCal
– Logout and Shutdown continue
unattended with a countdown timer

Noteworthy are also the updates to
DVD player, iChat AV, FireVault, local iDisk with .mac syncing, labels,

Click here for a list of all the new features in OS X 10.3
Panther

There’s quite a few things that could improve.
Even though many are minor (after all Apple’s had a few years to catch up, so
the biggest things are covered by now) I don’t get why certain features – which
were omitted or non-functional in 10.0 – still remain that way, nor why some
things in the third release of OS X still act up.

GUI:
– How
much more brushed metal do we need? It thought it was aqua. Give an option to go
all metal or no metal (pinstripe, milk).
– The dock should be transparent
& border-less (by default, not a hack)
– Close Minimize Maximize still
doesn’t work properly. X closes some, quits others. + never maximizes to full
screen, it only enlarges the screen somewhat. For instance: hit plus on Safari
and it jumps to the top left corner while making the screen a bit bigger without
maximizing. Please make + = full screen
– Certain icons on the desktop go
astray. I don’t understand why suddenly a downloaded file sits on the left side
or at the bottom half hidden under the dock ?? Nor why the icons on the right
don’t stay alphabetic.
– Screen capture: how about JPG or GIF? I don’t
need PDFs
– Dialog boxes: Every time a dialog box is displayed one of the
buttons should be highlighted and respond to enter or space. You should also be
able to toggle between the buttons with the arrows and/or the tab key.

Menu bar / dock: default entry or icon to gain quick access to all applications

– Expose: the top left screen corner activates expose half the time when I
just want to reach the Apple, menu bar or top left corner of an application.

Finder:
– Cut Copy Paste: still does not work properly, cut is
greyed out
– No copy to / move to options via right-click and/or the menu
bar and/or buttons on the button bar
– Delete: delete or backspace does not
move a file to the trash
– Split window mode (H or V dual finder) would
facilitate file organization
– Icon alignment: countless times the icon
view does not have the icons properly aligned or arranged. Example 16
application icons of which 4 are half off to the right of the screen, even
though the screen is big enough to contain them all. Alphabetization is
something you need to re-enforce manually.
– Certain folders will have the
applications misaligned, disorganized, piled, not alphabetized for no apparent
reason

Mail:
– Still no HTML typing, only rich-text or
plain-text.

Printing
– No print selection. You still can’t
print a few highlighted paragraphs of text
– Printing needs tabs or
chicklets. It takes two clicks to get to each of the settings’ screens –
compared to single click from tab to tab. Some should be merged &
renamed.

Fax
– Lacks photo quality option
– Preview of the
fax looks really bad
– Progress bar doesn’t progress. It’s just an
animation. No station ID, connection speed & transmit time indication.

– No inbox, outbox, sent items.

iChat AV:
– Some name bug
will show your registration name of OS X (rather than your nickname) in your
friends’ buddy lists. No preference access to an iChat profile to correct it.
You need to edit your address book profile …
– Needs capability to
communicate with ICQ (owned by AOL!) and other internet messenger applications.
There’s more than AOL in the world.

iCal:
– Doesn’t let you
set a category where all entries would auto-repeat every year. Would be
extremely swift for birthdays.

Backup:
– Wastes all it’s time
by default calculating how many CDRs you need to backup your entire HDD ?
without letting me cancel it. Next time around it’s the same thing.
– Sat
at 100% CPU for over 2 minutes to restore 50k of iCal settings from a networked
drive.

Internet Explorer
– Pitch it

Those were the
main attention grabbers on both the positive & negative side during my
initial use. Just like with Jaguar, some of the 150 features listed by Apple are
really minor and remain invisible ’till you perform a certain action. (like
attaching a scanner or drawing tablet)

Overall Panther is very stable
& pretty mature with 10.3.4 *. I just wish they could further improve the
Finder and certain GUI things that affect us all every day. Value? $75 would be
great ;)

* There were 2 big issues in 10.3 with FW800 and FireVault.
Firewire drives in 10.3.3 couldn’t be found.

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