Taking a page from Microsoft’s play book, Apple announced several new versions of OS X this morning. After all, if two editions of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger (regular and server) are good, eight must be better.
You may remember the good old days, when Apple had one current version of the Mac OS and Microsoft had one current version of Windows. Yeah, that was a long time ago. Apple started selling a “server” version of OS X, and Microsoft had a separate “workgroup” version of Windows in the 3.1 era.
For a while, Microsoft had two separate and slightly incompatible Windows product lines – Windows 95, 98, and Me for consumers and Windows NT and 2000 for more demanding markets. After combining both lines with Windows XP, they then took XP and split it into two versions, a home edition and a pro edition.
Add to that a starter edition for less developed nations and both home and pro versions of Windows XP N for the European market (these don’t include Windows Media Player as part of the EU antitrust settlement), and you have five current editions of Windows XP.
That’s nothing compared with Microsoft’s plans for Windows Vista. At the bottom will be a Starter Edition that allows only three programs to run at the same time, supports limited resolutions, and “won’t be suitable for most games”. Then there’s Windows Vista Home Basic Edition, which seems to fill the niche of the current XP Home Edition.
Of course, every basic version needs a deluxe one, so Microsoft also plans a Home Premium Edition. This will add “media center” capabilities, such as DVD authoring and high definition video support.
Replacing Windows XP Pro will be Windows Vista Professional Edition, which won’t include the media center features and will focus more on business use. That’s right – Microsoft doesn’t think businesses have any reason to author training DVDs or work with HD video.
Still not satisfied, there will also be a Small Business Professional Edition and an Enterprise Edition.
And let’s not forget, there are bound to be European versions of most of these that don’t include Windows Media support.
Apple followed the crowd when it came to multibutton mice, and they’re doing it again with Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4.3 and later). For those who don’t need to run more than three programs at once, don’t need support for multiple or high resolution displays, and never need to burn CDs (let alone DVDs), there will be Tiger Cub (a.k.a. 10.4 Lite). An Intel version of Tiger Cub may be released as a preview release that can run on standard Windows PCs.
A step up is Tiger Student (a.k.a. 10.4 Education), a version that supports up to five programs at once, works with up to two displays, supports easily restricted networking, and has a special module that prevents students from entering admin passwords that have been taped to the bottoms of their iBooks and eMacs. (Don’t ask how it works. It’s a mystery, like the anti-theft technology for portable electronic devices that Apple recently patented.) Tiger Student can also be set to prevent use of USB flash drives, iPods, external hard drives, and even writable and rewritable media – all ways to prevent unauthorized installation of software and copying data for use elsewhere.
Tiger Cat (a.k.a. 10.4 Home Edition) parallels Vista Home Basic Edition. It’s basically OS X 10.4 without any support for authoring DVDs or working with HD video. No iMovie, no iDVD.
Couch Tiger (a.k.a. 10.4 Advanced) is Tiger as we know it today, with all its video editing and DVD burning capabilities intact.
Feral Tiger (a.k.a. 10.4 Production) is Tiger unleashed for production work. For optimum performance, drop shadows are off by default and only the current foreground application is visible to reduce screen redraw times. (Both features can be disabled.) Feral Tiger will only run on Macs with full Core Image support, a 7200 rpm hard drive, 1 GB of RAM, and a single 1.25 GHz or dual 800 MHz G4 CPUs. Anything slower would just impede productivity too much.
Mac OS X 10.4 Server will be unchanged, although it will now be code named Sabretooth Tiger.
Finally – and topping Microsoft Vista by one version – is Tigger, a version optimized for gaming and task switching. Consider Tigger the perfect version of OS X for Mac users with ADHD.
And there you have it – Apple’s way of one-upping Microsoft at their own game.
– Anne Onymus