Rodney O. Lain: What OS X Means To Me

This is part of our series of editorials on what Mac OS X means to those of us using the new OS or just waiting for it. Todayis contribution comes from Rodney O. Lain, columnist and contributing editor for The Mac Observer. Rodney also writes for Applelinks and Low End Mac.

To me, Mac OS X signifies the fulfillment of one of my more selfish motives.

For some time now, Iive been sick of the fact that Windows looks "just like the Mac." Ditto for the fact that the PC is "just as good as a Mac." Never mind the fact that todayis Mac looks nothing like your fatheris PC - outwardly, anyway.

Still, once you got down to it, we have still had the same, old Mac OS beneath the hood, so to speak.

OS X changes all of that, fer sure.

For the Mac partisan in each of us, the most important thing about the Mac is what it is not:

  1. It isnit the mundane user experience to which the droning masses must answer the question "like it or leave it."
  2. It isnit the un-PC, itis the anti-PC
  3. It isnit utility, pragmatism and "good enough," itis style and elegance

For me, Mac OS X is the catalyst for bragging rights again. It adds the fun back into computing again. We are, admittedly, a more visual culture than the past generation, thanks in part to Apple, but thatis the subject for another column. Looks are important. Looks go beyond mere aesthetics.

There is something wonderfully intangible about being attracted to something and not being able to give empirical reasons about why I like it. What do I enjoy about OS X? Well, let me give you an idea: remember the first time you tried OS X? Remember how you complained about how it didnit have this or that OS 9 feature? Ignoring the initial gripes, most of us found ourselves grudgingly admitting that after playing with Aqua for a while, we found that it presented a pleasant user experience.

How many people can say that about Windows or Unix or Linux? I donit mean the slobbering compliments from the pocket-protector contingent that has never met a command-line that it didnit like. Sure, thereis something there they can relate to, but Iim talking about the masses out there that are looking for something that emphasizes the man more than the machine.

What will be interesting for me is to watch the evolution of OS X. The feature set that we see today will grow over time. There will be features rolled into it. There will be feature tweaks. Iim hoping that it was designed with major concept features intact (networking, internet, multi-user, etc.), with the intention of incorporating next-millennium advances as they are adopted by the industry. I donit mean afterthoughts, like the addition of many OS 9 features that were grafted onto the ancient "Classic" OS code base.

If its hardware is any indication, OS X will blaze a few more trails in the name of GUI advancement. Once again, the Mac will be a GUI to be reckoned with. There will be nothing like it.

That is, until Microsoft releases its 3rd version of Windows XP (they never get it right with versions 1 and 2).

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