Installation was similiar to previous versions. You insert the CD, double click on the installation app, and it reboots from the CD into Mac OS X. It erases a partition on your hard drive and installs itself. The installation took somewhat more time than the current Mac OS; I timed it at 17 minutes.
During the application, you are IN Aqua. You can drag the installation window around, access menus, etc. I tried clicking on the Services cascading menu, but since OS X wasn’t installed, there was no services, so the menu disappeared, but when I brought it up again, it was more transparent. I repeated this process until it no longer came up at all, and though the installation appeared to finish, I had to do a cold restart, and the machine never finished booting into Mac OS X. I had to reboot from the OS 9 CD and then repeat the OS X installation process.
On my Blue and White G3 400, with two hard drives, 256 megs of RAM, and a bunch of peripherals, it took 30 seconds from the time I hit the power button to when the Happy Mac appeared. Your mileage will vary a great deal from mine on this one, and shouldn’t be much different than it is now with classic Mac OS. From the Happy Mac to the login prompt took 37 seconds, and from clicking the Login button to the Finder window took 20 seconds.
The Finder is much improved and much more familiar. You can use it with the toolbar or without. You cannot access the services menu from within the Finder. There are three small buttons in the upper right that let you easily switch between icon, column, and list view. Double clicking on a folder opens the folder in the same window in icon view. Many people will be relieved to know that you can make a new Finder window from the File menu, or by holding down option while double clicking on any folder. Making the Finder window from the menubar opens it in the exact same place where your current window is. In icon or list view, you not only can define global preferences for the Finder views, but you can also override those for any number of windows by unclicking a check box. For example, you can have large icons for your root folder, which is likely to not have many items, but small icons for those that have many items. In icon view (not in list or column view), you can set the background of your Finder window, either locally for a specific window or globally for all windows, to any color, using the familiar but simplified (and much cooler looking) color picker, or you can define a background image for any or all windows. Unfortunately, dragging, is quite slow normally, and painfully slow when there’s a large background image. Scrolling also slows down a great deal. The Search field, useless in DP3, is gone.
The Finder read my Windows 98 CD without any trouble. You cannot open multiple instances of apps; double clicking on an open app brings it to the front. I would argue that this is preferable. For one thing, opening an app no longer gives you the watch cursor, so you have less visual feedback as to what’s happening. Users are likely to click on the app again, thinking that it didn’t open, and instead of then opening lots of additional instances (like it would in Windows) it doesn’t do anything.
There are some bugs when accessing my hard drive with OS 9. Like in the current Mac OS, you can type the first few letters of the name of a file or folder, and it wil jump to the item that begins with that. However, with my hard drive with OS 9, it treats every letter as the first letter; for example, if I have the folders Eagle, Fawn, and Fern, and I type “fe” to try to jump to the fern folder, it will first go to the Fawn folder and then to Eagle. In addition, sometimes opening a folder on my OS 9 hard drive won’t show any of its contents. Closing and reopening it usually fixes the problem.
The Finder transforms the : character into a -, like classic Mac OS. It throw up an “unknown error -43” if you try to use the / character. I could not find any other characters it had trouble with, including spaces. It accepts 255 character file names! I tried dragging a file with a 255 character file name into a folder on my OS 9 hard drive, and it crashed the desktop (see below). It gave me no problems when I put it in a folder on my OS X partition.
You can use the new Finder almost exactly like the old Finder, if you like, but YOU WON’T WANT TO. This is high praise indeed.
There is now a true desktop. Files that you drag to the desktop are not aliases, but are actual files on the desktop.
You ostensibly have the option of having removable media, like CDs, appear on the desktop or in the dock, but the dock choice is grayed out. Fixed media, like hard drives, do not appear on the desktop. Both fixed and removable media always appear at the root level of the Finder. There is now an option to change the background image of the desktop, and it works with all sorts of images like OS 9. The desktop folder is in a sort of strange place: logged in as admin, it is at Local → User → Administration → Library → Carbon → Desktop. You can change the size of the icons that appear on the desktop.
The desktop can crash or be force quit. When this happens, the Finder quits, and the background image disappears. It relaunches itself after a few seconds.
The Dock now arranges things for you. The trash is on the far right. Then come documents that you minimize, including Finder windows, and then a separator. Applications come next. Applications that are open (not necessarily active) have thre small black dots underneath them. An odd bug: if you click on certain open apps while in the desktop with a Finder window minimized, it opens that Finder window before bringing the app to the front.
As you can see from the picture, now only the icons magnify instead of the icons and their backing. In addition, you can only click on the icons, not on the backing. Since most icons don’t extend all the way to the bottom of the dock, this means that you cannot wantonly fling your mouse to the bottom of the screen to click on the icons like you can with menus.
The Help files claim you can drag and drop a file on an application in the Dock to open it with that application. I could not get this to work, although you can drag and drop a file to an icon in the Finder like with the current Mac OS. Removing the standard applications that appear on the dock is easy: drag them off the Dock, and they disappear in a puff of smoke (Apple has a movie of this happening). I could not figure out how to get them back, however! Apple’s Help claims that you can drag them to the dock from the Finder, but I could not get this to work.
When you quit apps, their icon “demagnifies” to nothing in the Dock. Very cool effect!
Windows can still grow so that their bottom edge is obscured by the dock. This is particularily frustrating, since it prevents you from resizing them, as the resize handle is underneath the dock! Apple should implement a way for apps to get the height of the dock so they can resize accordingly.
Little has chnged with Aqua. The four colored widgets in every window are the same as they were in DP3. The blue Apple logo in the menubar is still there and is just as useless. You can double click a window’s menubar to minimize it, as in DP3. Sound seems to be working now. The alert sounds include all of the classic alerts and a few new ones (Frog, Funk, and Tink) which are extremely short and easy to miss. Live resizing of windows seems a bit faster, but it is still painfully and uncharacteristically slow. The Finder doesn’t even try to use live resizing. Most apps open more rapidly than they did in DP3 but still not nearly as fast as they do in OS 9.
The Clock deserves to be both capitalized and to have a heading of its own. It no longer appears on start up, though it is trivial to add. It is intended to float above your applications, and can be displayed in either digital or analog formats, with varying levels of transparency. Setting the clock on analog with the maximum transparency is a great effect, and is how I used it. The clock does block you from clicking on window widgets beneath it, though you can move the clock to someplace else.
The clock does leave a large white space around it when it is over a classic window.
Double clicking on a SoundApp playlist opens the OS X Quicktime player, oddly enough, so I opened up SoundApp itself. There does not appear to be any Classic disk image, like there was in previous developer previews. Classic crashed when it tried to load the USB Overdrive extensions, just like it did in previous versions, so I removed them and the control panel. SoundApp occasionally skips when you open a new window or minimize one in OS X; it never skipped in classic Mac OS.
The Classic Finder decided to try to rebuild the desktop on my Mac OS X partition; I had to stop it. The Blue Box opens up a program called “Classic Support,” which if you happen to choose it can cause problems such as the “double menu” phenomena. While in Classic, you have the standard Mac OS menubar, with the app menu. The app menu now displays all opened apps, including native OS X apps, although they have the standard hand-and-blank-page icon instead of their native icons. There are no longer the graphics problems that there once were with classic apps and the dock or OS X menus. When the menu fades away over a classic window, it leaves white space behind and send an update event to the app, which is probably as good as it’s going to get (unless Apple saves a picture of what’s behind the menu every time you open it like I believe they do with classic menus, which is feasible but probably not worth it, since it’s not a big deal).
Classic Finder does not initially appear in the app menu, but somehow I managed to make it show.
Out of curiosity, I wrote an AppleScript “Tell application ‘Finder’ to quit” but Script Editor froze when I clicked “Check Syntax.”
There are still compatibilty problems. For example, Escape Velocity override will not run in Classic, because it tries to change the monitor resolution and fails. Alpha Centauri also tries to change the monitor resolution and fails, but doesn’t seem to mind and happily runs in a window. While in single window mode, classic apps are not automatically hidden, although if you click on them your current (OS X) app gets minimized.
You can now connect to the Internet in either Classic or native OS X with the same IP address. Opening Classic’s TCP-IP control panel displays your IP, but does not allow you to change it. Copy and paste works well between classic and native apps. Because of the new multitasking, Classic dialogs, usually instantly responsive, can feel sluggish. Opening a classic dialog, moving to an OS X app, and then going back to the dialog often does not make it appear. In this case, hit escape, the equivalent of cancel, and then open the dialog again.
OS X DP 4 comes with a carbonized version of Internet Explorer. I find it awkwardly painful to look at because it has its own “sort of Aqua” interface, just like it does in classic Mac OS, but it’s off. For example, the lines in title bars are closer together and darker in IE, and it throws the effect off. Perhaps other people won’t mind it; judge for yourself. IE for OS X does not support Java, since it uses MRJ.
OS X has a nice new Quicktime player. It does not play either the sound or video from mpeg files, though it will open some of them. It opens and displays Quicktime VR, but they can crash the player. .mov files play video well, but have somewhat scratchy sound. The dock does not show update minimized movies as they are being played. Notice that the Quicktime player no longer has a drawer.
Sherlock has been Aqua-ized. In addition, it has most, if not all, of the features of its classic counterpart. However, it is quite slow at searching, and it does not let you drag files from the Sherlock window to the trash or to other folders. There is a menu item to send files to the trash. I did not try content searching, because it wanted to reindex and that would take too long.
Here’s the open and save dialogs. Check out the cool transparency! The button to the right of the Where pop-up menu causes everything beneath the line directly below the button to disappear, simplifying the dialog.
Overall, OS X DP4 is OS X DP3 with a great deal of new, small features implemented, and a much improved Finder. Except for the Finder, there does not appear to be any large changes in the interface. But right now, it is a tremendous operating system with a tremendous interface, worth buying even without the modern OS features.