Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger
29 April, 2005

“Mac OS X Tiger will come out long before Longhorn,” claimed Steve Jobs in January 2005 at the San Francisco Macworld Expo. He was referring to the codename for the Microsoft operating system that would eventually emerge as Windows Vista.

First announced at WWDC in June 2004, Tiger finally shipped on 29 April, 2005, at a reduced price of £89, prompting Jobs to proclaim that: “Mac OS X Tiger is the most innovative and secure desktop operating system ever created. Tiger’s groundbreaking new features like Spotlight and Dashboard will change the way people use their computers, and drive our competitors nuts trying to copy them.”

Tiger required a minimum 256MB of memory and was designed to run on any Mac with a PowerPC G5, G4 or G3 processor, and built-in FireWire. As well as search tool Spotlight and widget access utility Dashboard, Tiger introduced native 64-bit application support. It included QuickTime 7, which supported the H.264 video codec, live video resizing, zero-configuration streaming and extensive surround sound, while the revamped iChat offered dramatically better picture quality over the same internet bandwidth.

The Automator workflow application allowed users to automate repetitive tasks without complex programming and Safari gained a full-featured RSS reader. Mail 2 was revamped with a new user interface, Spotlight searching, and .Mac syncing, plus you could now view emailed images as a full-screen slideshow. Apple introduced Xgrid for distributed computing tasks, while Core Image and Core Video were introduced to provide the foundation for new image and video processing applications.

“Mac OS X Tiger is a giant leap over its predecessor, Panther,” lauded PC World’s Narasu Rebbapragada. “For me, the Spotlight search and Smart Folders features are worth the purchase price.”

Jobs was correct in his prediction, as Windows Vista shipped in 2006, and offered new security controls, new search facilities and a brand new design. In June 2005, the two millionth copy of Tiger was sold, and Apple announced a move to use Intel processors in all Macs by the end of 2007.

Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard
26 October, 2007

Previewed at WWDC in August 2006, Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard offered around 300 new features. Chief among these was Time Machine, a utility that automatically backed up your files in case they need to be restored later; Spaces, a new way to switch between groups of applications required for various tasks; and Boot Camp, which made it possible to run Windows natively on Intel-based Macs. Core Animation, a new graphics technology made it easy to create visual effects and animations, and joined major enhancements in Universal Access and new features in Mail and iChat. The redesigned 3D Dock with Stacks offered a new way to organise files for quick and easy access with just one click, while Quick Look offered instant full-screen, high-resolution views of virtually anything, even media files, from any view in the Finder.

“Breakthrough features like Time Machine and Spaces are good examples of how Mac OS X leads the industry in operating system innovation”, said Steve Jobs. “While Microsoft tries to copy the version of OS X we shipped a few years ago, we’re leaping ahead again with Leopard”.

“In my view, Leopard is better and faster than Vista, with a set of new features that make Macs even easier to use,” wrote Walt Mossberg in The Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile Claudine Beaumont, writing in The Daily Telegraph, said of Time Machine: “It’s simple and intuitive, and the clever graphical user interface makes restoring files much easier than rifling through root directories or complicated menus. This feature is worth the money on its own, especially if your usual ‘housekeeping’ routines leave something to be desired.”

While maintaining full performance and compatibility for existing 32-bit Mac OS X applications and drivers, Leopard also allowed applications to take complete advantage of native 64-bit processing. This was in keeping with both Windows Vista and Linux, which were already taking advantage of this technology. Leopard ran on both PowerPC and Intel Macs, but support for the G3 processor was dropped.

At the other end of the scale, Jobs unveiled the iPhone to an unsuspecting public on 9 January, 2007 at Macworld Expo.