In Depth: Apple's Leopard leaps to new heights

A refined look, revamped apps and new options build on an already solid OS foundation

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Boot Camp: Two operating systems, one computer


If Time Machine is the premier app in Leopard, Boot Camp is a close second. Even before Steve Jobs started talking up Leopard, Apple had released a preview version of Boot Camp, which allows Intel-based Macs to run Windows XP and Vista. Forget the arguments over why you'd want to do such a thing; some people need Windows but like Apple's hardware. 'Nuff said.

Until now, Boot Camp -- already updated to Version 1.4 -- has been offered as a separate download from the Apple site. You could burn it onto a disk, install it on your computer and use it to dynamically partition your hard drive. That partition is then used as your install location for Windows XP (SP2) and later.

But Boot Camp will no longer be offered for use in Tiger as a stand-alone application -- even for a price. Apple has said the license to use the application would expire with the release of Leopard, and as of Tuesday, it stopped allowing Boot Camp downloads. Although beta users can continue to use the Windows partitions they've already created, Boot Camp won't allow you to create new ones -- and Apple won't provide any updated drivers. In other words, you can keep using your current Boot Camp partition, but you won't get any updates from Apple.

This is one of those applications that could force users who've come to rely on it in beta to move to Leopard right away. If you've grown comfortable firing up XP or Vista on your Mac, you'll have to buy Leopard to get any updates now. While it's true that virtualization programs like Parallels and Fusion allow you to run XP or Vista from within Mac OS X, there's still a layer of software between Windows and your Mac hardware. Only Boot Camp gives Windows direct access to your Mac, eliminating any potential speed penalty from virtualization.

At least Apple made it easy for those who are already using Boot Camp. Once you have Leopard in hand, all you have to do to update Boot Camp is start up Windows, pop in the Leopard install DVD, and update the drivers.

Lost in Spaces? Not anymore


Let's say a user has a daily workflow that involves different types of programs. As a Web designer, she's working in Adobe Dreamweaver and checking your HTML pages in a number of Web browsers. The designer is also manipulating images in Photoshop, where she has several palettes and photos open.

The Web designer opens text files in Microsoft Office and even on occasion Apple's TextEdit. And finally, she moves files onto aa site with an FTP program. Let's say she's doing all of that on a 15-in. MacBook Pro.

See the problem?

The user is alternately hiding and showing programs, Command-Tabbing her way between apps and windows and, in general, getting lost. Apple has a solution: Spaces. Spaces is Apple's take on virtual desktops, allowing users to skip the need for three or four monitors and opt for something that's both easier to use and a lot less expensive.

How does it work? Spaces lets you assign a different desktop to different groups of tasks or applications. And in true Apple style, making the switch is easy and can be done in multiple ways depending on how you work.

Take our window-plagued Web designer. She can assign Dreamweaver and the browsers she needs to one desktop, her imaging apps to another, text programs to a third, and an FTP app to still another. Turn on Spaces in System Preferences, select the option that places an icon for the program in the menu bar, and you're ready to start switching.

Our hypothetical Web designer would launch Dreamweaver, and it would appear in Desktop 1. She'd fire up Safari, Firefox and OmniWeb, and they'd show up there as well. Photoshop, when launched, would open in yet another desktop free of all those Dreamweaver and browser Windows -- although they're still running out of sight. Microsoft Office shows up in Desktop 3. And that FTP program? Yep, Desktop 4. You can work in each one and by hitting the F8 key rotate between them. Or you can slide your cursor up to the menu bar and pick whichever desktop you need next. Once you're done with the programs assigned to a particular desktop, you can switch back to another one.

See all of your Spaces desktops at a glance. ()

You can also set the desktops to appear all on one screen in miniaturized form, à la Expose. While you're there, you can permanently reorganize your desktops on the fly by dragging and dropping apps from one to the other. (They'll stay in the desktop you assign them to until you move them again.) Then move the cursor to the one you want, and that one pops up as your main desktop. Apple smartly decided to have the Dock show up the same in every Space, which should help you keep track of what programs are running.

It takes some getting used to, trying to decide which desktop has which apps, but once you're used to it, your workflow will thank you. Just remember, all those apps are running, even when they're hidden. If you're going to have a lot of them open at once, more RAM will be your friend.

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