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Inside Mac OS X 10.4 \"Tiger\": Overview

On Monday, Apple Computer supplied 3,500 of its developers with a preview copy of the company\'s next-generation operating system, Mac OS X 10.4 \"Tiger.\" Sources close to the company were able to obtain a copy of the software and have been previewing the new system over the last few days.


One of the first facts to note is that Tiger was distributed on a single Apple DVD disc, and was not available to developers on CD. In the short installation note accompanying software, Apple states that Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger Developer Preview will require a PowerPC G3, G4 or G5 processor, a DVD drive, built-in-FireWire, 128 MB of RAM and 2 GB of disk space.



A clean installation of Tiger took approximately 1 hour to install on a 600MHz iBook G3 test machine, and did not require the user to switch installation disc, as with Mac OS X 10.3 \"Panther.\"

The Mac OS X Tiger install processes has changed little since Panther, but does appear to reflect slight interface enhancements, most notably in the Mac OS X install language selection dialog.

Once Tiger has been successfully installed, the computer restarts and the Mac OS X Setup Assistant launches in full-screen. The new assistant incorporates Apple\'s new \"System Migration\" tool that allows users to automatically transfer data from an old Mac to a new Mac over FireWire. Other than the migration tool, the assistant reflects very few changes to the version that shipped with Panther, and also continues to sport the aluminum Panther Logo.


First Impressions

After providing the necessary information to the setup assistant, the application terminates and the Tiger desktop appears. What most users will notice immediately is that overall appearance of Tiger is not strikingly different from its predecessor, visually. Instead, Tiger\'s strengths lay under the hood, in the code that most Mac users care little to see, but love to enjoy.

Apple\'s new \"Spotlight\" search technology is by far Tiger\'s most dominant feature, and it can be accessed from almost every corner of the system, literally. A blue-colored Spotlight search button appears in the upper-right-hand corner of the Mac OS menubar, and remains accessible at that point from any Mac OS X application. Selecting the Spotlight icon reveals a search field that will expand to display results in real-time.

Interestingly, sources noted that while the Tiger Finder interface contains no noticeable changes from Panther, Spotlight uses its own sleek window interface design, which is only accessible from windows that are spawned from Spotlight searches. The interface features windows with a smooth, grey-colored titlebar, with sharp webpage-like table results on one side, and an html-style control bar on the other. Details of these new webpage-like Mac OS X windows were first report by sources in an earlier report, though sources described them as Mac OS Finder windows.


Users can also choose to search their computers through the traditional Mac OS X search dialog, accessible only from the Finder. In Tiger, Apple has updated Finder search to be contained within a Finder window, while using Spotlight\'s technology and portions of its new interface.


Overall, sources said that this first developer preview of Tiger was very snappy and responsive, even while running on a G3 processor. However, it should be noted that clean installs of any Mac OS system will tend to run noticeably faster than systems containing hundreds of applications and thousands of files.

With Tiger sporting over 150 new features, AppleInsider plans to provide extensive coverage of the new system as information becomes available. Please stay tuned to AppleInsider for further installments of our coverage of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.