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Mossberg: Apple's Leopard evolutionary, not revolutionary

"I've been testing Leopard, and while it is an evolutionary, not a revolutionary, release, I believe it builds on Apple's quality advantage over Windows," writes the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg in a review to be published in Thursday's edition of the financial paper.

The renowned technology columnist claims that Leopard is better and faster than Vista, with a set of new features that make Macs even easier to use.

"I did notice a few drawbacks, but they were minor," he says. "The menu bar is now translucent, which can make it hard to see the items it contains if your desktop picture has dark areas at the top. The new folder icons are dull and flat and less attractive than Vista's or their predecessors on the Mac. While Time Machine can perform backups over a network, the backup destination can only be a hard disk connected to a Mac running Leopard. And, on the Web, I ran into one site where the fonts on part of the page were illegible, a problem Apple says is known and rare and that I expect it will fix."

Apple claims the new system includes more than 300 new features, but Mossberg observes that there "is nothing on the list that could be considered startling or a major breakthrough." While some of Leopard's features are unique, many others have been available on both Windows and the Mac via third-party programs or hard-to-find geeky methods buried in the operating systems, he explains.

In his tests, Mossberg said Leopard felt about as fast as Tiger and that it started up much faster than Vista. "I compared a MacBook Pro laptop with Leopard preinstalled to a Sony Vaio laptop with Vista preinstalled," he says. "Even though I had cleared out all of the useless trial software Sony had placed on the Vaio, it still started up painfully slowly compared with the Leopard laptop."

According to his tests, it took Vista nearly two minutes to perform a cold start and be ready to run. "The Leopard laptop was up, running and connected to the network in 38 seconds," he adds. "In a test of restarting the two laptops after they had been running an email program, a Web browser and a word processor, the Sony with Vista took three minutes and 29 seconds, while the Apple running Leopard took one minute and five seconds."

Mossberg's review was available online to the general public at press time. However, the Journal sometimes restrict access to such features within a few hours. Readers who are unable to access the content online may want to pick a copy of tomorrow's print edition.

Meanwhile, the New York Times' David Pogue and USA Today's Edward Baig have also published early reviews of Leopard. AppleInsider will of course provide its own in-depth Leopard review following the software's release on Friday.

In the meantime, you can check out our ongoing Road to Leopard Series: System Preferences, Parental Controls and Directory Services, What's new in Mac OS X Leopard Server, Dashboard, Spotlight and the Desktop, Safari 3.0, iCal 3.0, iChat 4.0, Mail 3.0, Time Machine; Spaces, Dock 1.6, Finder 10.5, Dictionary 2.0, and Preview 4.0.