Apple set to unleash the Tiger on PC users

Saturday, April 30th, 2005

MICROSOFT I New operating system delivers built-in rapid search system

Peter Wilson

Tiger is on the prowl today in Vancouver, and that could be the initial sign that things might be about to change in personal computing habits forever.

At 6 p.m. on Friday, in stores across the Lower Mainland, Apple unleashed the latest version of its OS X operating system — really just plain old 10.4, but called Tiger because, well, that’s a heck of a lot sexier than just using a number.

Inside Tiger is a feature that Microsoft has been promising Windows users for years in its long-delayed new operating system, Longhorn: a built-in rapid and almost universal search system called Spotlight.

Spotlight is search on steroids, somewhat akin to Google for the PC.

What Apple’s Spotlight does is take the search term you’ve given it and then poke its nose into such things as address books, e-mail, photos, documents (including Word, Excel and Powerpoint files), tunes and the like.

Then it coughs up everything relevant (and neatly categorized) including that obscure file about raising chinchillas you last remember seeing in the summer of 2002.

Because it looks at content, not just the name of the file, users won’t have to be so careful — if they ever were — about what they call things when they save them. And they won’t have to waste time muddling around in folders hoping to find what they want.

“The ability to search within documents and PDF Files, that’s going to be a huge time saver for people in a business environment,” said Michael Carman, manager of Mac Station’s Vancouver store in Yaletown.

Both Mac Station and another major Apple retailer, Simply Computing, have geared up for the launch.

Two live tigers will be on hand at the Yaletown Mac Station from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today — a bit of an upgrade from the single panther on hand the last time Apple launched an OS upgrade.

At Simply Computing stores they’re giving away gifts with copies of Tiger, along with chances to win an iPod Shuffle.

Simply Computing’s Langley store had, as of Friday, advance orders for almost all the 50 copies of Tiger they had on hand at $149 a pop. In Vancouver they have 200 copies to meet the demand.

Now, all this hype should mean nothing to Windows users, who outnumber Mac computer afficionados by a margin of something more than 10 to one, except that Spotlight could be a vision of things to come in computing when Microsoft finally delivers its new operating system sometime in 2006.

Along with Spotlight, both Carman and Tony Barker, manager of administrative services at Simply Computing, believe the Dashboard — featuring mini-programs, called widgets, that pop up, either singly or together at a keystroke — will be a well-used feature.

The widgets do things like show users the weather and provide stock tickers and flight schedules. Dashboard was preceded on the Mac and on Windows by a similar program called Konfabulator.

We couldn’t end this without just a tiny bit of Windows and Microsoft bashing from Carman, who said: “Panther was so far ahead of what they have and Tiger just pushes that to the forefront even more.”

© The Vancouver Sun 2005

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