Five from 2007
By Stephen WITHERS
It's traditional to take a look back at the end of the year. Here, in no particular order, are five items from the Mac universe that caught my attention during 2007.
Leopard Better late than never, goes the old saying. Despite some very welcome features (such as Time Machine for backups), some users would have preferred Apple to have left Mac OS X 10.5 baking a little longer so that more bugs had been fixed before rather than after delivery. Accounts losing admin rights, flaky AirPort connections, and the unforgivable return of a Mail security vulnerability that had been eradicated from previous versions are just three of the things that should have been picked up before Leopard shipped.
All that said, I'm reasonably happy with Leopard and still finding ways to make good use of new features such as the Cover Flow view in the Finder.
iPhone It's not a Mac, but how could I overlook it? Initial demand was amazing in the US, but considerably more muted in Europe. The jury's still out on whether Apple's model of taking a trailing commission from its carrier partners is really working. The exclusive carrier model doesn't seem to be going down too well in Europe, and the 'unlocked' iPhones that Apple's had to offer to comply with French law are considered to be on the pricey side when compared with other relatively advanced phones.
I've seen the iPhone in action, it is nice, but I can't imagine paying more than $A300 for a phone.
Aluminium After phasing out the metallic-finish PowerBooks in favour of the black or white MacBook and MacBook Pro, Apple does the reverse on the desktop. Gone are the white iMacs, replaced by the new aluminium and black models. They look OK, but I can't help feeling it's a slightly retro styling move.
And there's the keyboard. Very slim, very pretty. But once the honeymoon was over we had a falling out and I've put it aside after getting pain in my hands, arms and shoulders. I'm now back with my 'supermarket special' generic USB keyboard - it isn't perfect, but it is better. At least the silver case and black keys look reasonable next to the iMac. I'm planning to try one or more so-called ergonomic keyboards in an attempt to further reduce the aches and pains, which have never before been a problem for me in decades of computer use.
Sales Apple's obviously doing something right, as Macs are selling in record numbers - 2.16 million in the most recent quarter. Some of these are going to Windows refugees, but there's probably an element of owners of PowerPC-based Macs deciding it was time for an upgrade as more and more Intel-native software appeared.
Add the ability to run Windows either by dual-booting with the aid of Apple's own Boot Camp software or using virtualisation software such as Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion, and you can see why Macs were running off the shelves.
Security A lot more vulnerabilities were uncovered during the year than Apple or its customers would have liked. Very few were exploited - the main exception being an iPhone/iPod touch flaw that was used as a way of installing custom software on these supposedly closed devices.
2007 also saw a Trojan horse delivered by a porn site - it purported to be a QuickTime codec, but actually changed the Mac's DNS settings to divert traffic to other dodgy sites.
The debate continues about whether Mac OS X is any more or less secure than Windows, or whether the bad guys simply don't think the installed base is big enough to be worth attacking.
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