Mac OS X 10.3 Panther Review | November 29, 2003

Well I've been using Panther at home for a few weeks now, so thought I should give a quick review. For something a bit more indepth, here is a great, unbiased review of Panther.

Overall Panther feels much more responsive than Jaguar. Window handling seems snappier, launching applications feels quicker and I spend much less time looking at the rainbow spinning wheel of death than I used to. Considering OS X was supposed to be pretty much "crash proof" Jaguar used to lock up on me all the time. This was mostly caused by Macromedia apps crashing and taking down the whole system with them. Macromedia's apps still seem to crash on a fairly regular basis but on Panther they're yet (touch wood) to take down my OS.

After installing Panther I was pleased that there were few troubles with any of my applications. I did have problems with Photoshop, but fixing it was as simple as trashing a particular set of prefs. However there is one weird thing with iTunes. I've almost stopped listening to music on my stereo these days so have iTunes open all the time. However every now and then iTunes decides to start playing for no apparent reason something which can be really annoying in the middle of the night! I've had a bit of a search around but can't find any info on the problem.

The main feature I got Panther for was fast user switching. I share my home computer with my girlfriend and when I first got OS X I set her up a user account. However after the first few weeks of using it, it became a real pain in the arse. If I was in the middle of something and Mel wanted to use the computer for half an hour, I'd have to shut all my applications down, log out and then she'd have to log in and launch all her applications. It was such a pain that very quickly her user account got abandoned. Now with fast user switching, all your apps stay open making switching a much more viable option. I was also looking forward to showing off Panthers cool user switching transition. However despite being on a fairly modern flat panel iMac with more than the average amount of RAM, the whole cube thing just doesn't happen, which is sad.

The other cool thing is expose, Panthers new application switching/window handling mechanism. I'm yet to get the best out of expose as I'm still used to my old way of working which involved layering up windows in use so they overlapped allowing me to click from one to the other while hiding the windows that weren't in use. As expose doesn't work with hidden applications or docked windows I'm going to have to start keeping more things visible and undocked to get the best out it it, which means changing the way I'm currently used to working. Still I can definitely see the benefits us using expose, especially as it's much faster than Panthers regular window handling.

So generally I think Panther is an improvement over Jaguar. Whether it's worth the price tag is another question.

Posted at November 29, 2003 12:44 PM