Mac Users Gather in Virginia for Tiger Release

On a late April afternoon, this reporter is hunkered down with more than two hundred other Mac users at the Clarendon Apple Store in Arlington, VA to await the release of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. People have gathered from all over to check out the newest direction Apple is taking the Mac operating system, to buy new hardware, and to hang out with other Mac users.

Peter Allen stakes his spot
at the front of the line.
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image)
More than three hours before Tiger goes on sale, Peter Allen is the first person to camp out for the release. The proud owner of a dual-USB iBook G3 and a G4 Cube, his hopes are geared towards new hardware. "For the last two releases, they had a 10% discount off hardware," Mr. Allen told The Mac Observer. "Iim hoping to buy something that can run Tiger."

"I just got out of class and thereis nothing better to do than wait for the new system to come out," said Nahshon Oliver, laughing about his third place spot in line. "Iim really just looking for some updates with the browsers, and Spotlight seems pretty fantastic. Anything better than Longhorn is good."

Fourth and fifth in line, two teenagers who identify themselves as Will and Kyle walked up, grabbed seats, then placed two large duffel bags full of equipment down on the ground before cracking open laptops, setting up iSight cameras and tapping into the Apple Storeis AirPort network.

"We were hoping to be here in the afternoon, but we had class," said Will. "Weire just excited and we wanted to chill with the Mac users."

For every Apple event/camp out, there are always those who make the most of it, and Will and Kyle certainly qualify for that distinction. After running to a local hardware store for a 30 foot power cable, running it out from the Apple Store to two power strips theyid brought, and then setting up a shared wireless network for video conferencing over iChat AV, theyid earned their geek credentials.

What began as a half a dozen people camping out with laptops drawing odd stares from passers by soon extended more than 50 yards down the length of the mallis sidewalk. It was an odd column accentuated by laptops, PDAs and white iPod earbuds.

"I just canit wait anymore. Iive got to have it," quipped Ben Kahn, a biomathematician.

"For me, I just want to see how you make something so good better," said a line attendee who identified himself as Doug. "Iive been working with computers for 25 years and this is the most excited Iive been about an operating system since my first computer, which was an Atari 800. I donit think Iill ever own another PC."

Moments later, he opened up a PowerBook G4 with a desktop background of the infamous Windows blue screen of death. "THATiS why I have a Mac. Itis a constant reminder of what I left behind," he said.

For others, their reasons for being at the event were more practical. "Iim here for Tiger, and to buy my son a PowerBook," said Patricia Cavanaugh when asked why she would wait almost two hours in line before an item went on sale.

The line outside the Clarendon Apple Store
as 6:00 PM neared.
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As 6:00 PM approached, and the Apple Store closed its doors to prepare for Tigeris release, the staff gathered in back while a hired security team kept watch over the crowd. With Survivoris "Eye of the Tiger" blaring, some 40 staff members gathered in the back of the store to be pumped up into a retail fervor.

Outside, the scene was one of anticipation as line members rose from their seats and edged closer towards the front of the line wherever possible.

When the doors finally opened, Apple was ready. Armed with shelves filled with copies of Tiger for sale, as well as more cases of the software directly behind the cash register, staff members greeted everyone almost as soon as they walked in the door. The security team controlled the numbers that entered, while scratch-off raffle tickets were distributed to everyone.

One iTunes Music Store song (by way of the raffle ticket), two boxes of Tiger and a copy of Office 2004 later, this reporter left with dreams of 64-bit system components and native multithreading running through his head.

Yes, there will be growing pains, quirks to sort out, and changes to make, but for the time being, itis as good as ever to be a Mac user. Thatis a sentiment obviously shared by many at the Tiger World Premiere event in Arlington, Virginia.

You can find 26 photos of this event in our Tiger World Premiere photo gallery.