Slimmer Snow Leopard?

In the wake of reports from TUAW and that 10.6, also known as Snow Leopard, would be the smallest Apple OS in years, many have been scrambling to figure out how exactly Apple was going to be dropping that much heft from their mainline apps. An especially big loser was Mail, down to 91 MB from 287 MB. 

Speculation has been running wild that this was an indication that this dramatic weightloss is an indication that Apple is looking toward minikernel type operating systems and the types of platforms that this would indicate – mainly leading to more ‘real OS X on the iPhone’ discussions.  Others have speculated that the weight reduction is due more to the loss of the PPC code in 10.6, or the switch from language (.lproj) files in each app to a system-wide localization database.

While there’s no denying that the loss of size is dramatic, it’s actually less of a reduction than I can get by running running XSlimmer – to use Mail as an example, the xslimmed Mail weighs in at a svelte 24.7 MB – significantly lighter even than the version shipping with Snow Leopard.  This, I’d think, very much argues that the size reductions can be entirely explained by loss of the PPC code and the language files.  In fact, the extra 70 MB might even be new features – hey, we can hope, right?

It’s good to see Apple’s focus on quality in 10.6

I find it sad that in the time past since the keynote very few bloggers or news have really understood what 10.6 promises. From what I know inside of Apple, they’re not kidding about improving OS X. Let’s take a quick inventory of the IT industry and what is about to happen in the next 10 years.

  • Vista is a failure. I can’t deny it and sad to say it, but it sucks. I’ve tried to like it and give it a shot, but it doesn’t work. For those of you who could righfully disclaim me as a so-called Apple fanboy, I’d like to remind you that during the day I do .Net programming. And most of the time I get it done on a Mac. Touche.
  • Linux, well I hope you figure out that people outside of the IT sector don’t give crap about their computers or even want to see a crash detailing what happened during kernel traps or memory faults. Not saying your efforts are fruitless, but if you want to be a successful distribution, break free from branding as another Linux distribution. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a consumer say ‘Isn’t linux for people who understand computers?’. Figure out how to do drag-n-drop software installations and the Linux community might get a better following. Then figure out how to make desktop applications not crash so frequently. I have ran everything from straight Darwin, to FreeBSD, to Ubuntu 8 and one thing has always come back when attempting Linux as my desktop system. Consumers are not interested in having an IT guy as a friend. Shocking, I know.

So who’s left in the crowd? Surprise surprise, do any of you seriously think this wasn’t easily figured out 5 years ago? I wasn’t surprised to be honest. Many of us grew up using Apple computers in schools. We miss having stuff that just worked. We grew up in an era of believing in seamlessness over configuration. We’re tired of configuring when DVD players play movies and microwave cook food without a college degree. Computers are machines; they service a purpose as utilitarian in modern day life as speaking to each other. They must work just as well as our own air passes over our vocal cords in a stream of language interpreted at the other end of a sound wave. I don’t see any other platform doing it as well as the 1-2-3 of Apple, Google, and the Internet.

Which brings me back to today. 10.6 is what I’m more excited about than any other iPhone App demo or glanced over news release in the last 48 hours. I wrote peviously how this flurry of new features came at some cost to Apple engineers. I’ve been in the situation were the code that works isn’t necessarily the best way to do it. Sadly, more times than I can even recollect. So says Fake Steve:

“Brokenhearted Apple watchers wasted no time in bemoaning all the missing features that remain unaddressed.” That’s what you wrote. Well, of course they bemoaned. I told you yesterday they would do that. They always do. You know why? Because they have no idea how products are made or how software is written. Because they know nothing — nothing — about technology. They think our headquarters in Cupertino is some kind of Willy Wonka chocolate factory and I’m Mr. Wonka himself and all I have to do is snap my fingers and dream up some new features (or just make a list based on fanboy email) and that’s it — just like that, the miracle products are brought to life.

Which only highlights that I’m honored and appreciative that I see Apple (and as a former employee wondering which direction this push came from) is pausing to go back and just spend time rethinking, polishing, and improving what is already great but not all the way 99% perfect. In fairness and my love for software, I hope to see Microsoft just do the same damn thing. We need an era in tech were we can all say, you know what, the Internet is fine but we could go back and just make what we have work better. Perhaps we already have, it just took an event like WWDC to really make it apparent that great features might sell, but broken features cost more in support and bad press.

The only thing I’m more interested in with the review of code is how Apple handles charging (or even better NOT charging) for this new release of OS X. They’ve spent a few years now dinging us for $129 bucks for new features, but are we do for a freebie when Apple could certainly afford to do so? It’s certain that 10.7 is going to have more features than we’ll be able to comprehend in a single web page.