Sorry, Children, Leopard’s Top Secret Features Aren’t Real

by Chris Howard Oct 17, 2007

Yay, woohoo, Leopard has finally been announced! Two and a half years after the release of Tiger, that’s an almost Microsoft-esque timeframe by Apple’s standards. You’d expect Leopard to be something special, and, with 300 plus improvements, it must be. However, since Steve’s announcement 14 months ago of “top secret” new features, nothing has materialized to fit that billing. And it’s reasonable that the fans are feeling a little bit let down.

At WWDC 2006, on giving the first preview of Leopard, Steve Jobs promised there were still new features to be revealed that were “top secret.” The allusion was that revealing them would allow the mortal enemy, Microsoft, to copy them (at the last minute) into Vista, which was a few months from release.

In Steve’s own words, courtesy of Engadget, he said from the WWDC 2006 stage, “Today we want to give you a preview of Leopard. First I want to tell you there are some top secret features that we’re keeping close to the chest.”

A quick scour of the new features pages for Leopard reveals nothing significant above what was first shown way back in August 2006. Finder upgrade, Quick Look, Time Machine, Mail 3, iChat 4, Spaces, Safari 3, Parental Controls upgrade, and Boot Camp: these get top billing on the new features page. But if you’re feeling a bit of déjà vu, it’s because you saw all this at WWDC 2006.

Ironically, OS X’s own dictionary describes déjà vu as “tedious familiarity.” Who hasn’t felt a bit that way as Apple has continued to trumpet the same old new features?

At the same time, who isn’t feeling at least the smallest bit used? Patronized? Taken for granted? It’s rather easy to feel Steve has treated us like children, telling us there’s a tooth fairy when there isn’t, telling us whatever suits Apple without respect for its customers. By the way, if there are any children reading this, yes, of course the tooth fairy is real, and yes of course there are significant secret features in Leopard. Someone will find them. One day. Promise.

Some fans had held out hope until yesterday that Apple would deliver the promised top secret features. Sadly, I guess we just can’t believe what Steve tells us anymore.

Many commentators are suggesting Apple is becoming more Microsoft-like. The arguments center around Apple’s apparent growing disregard for its own customers. This “top secret” saga adds weight to their arguments. You get the impression Apple thinks it can tell us whatever it likes because we’re gullible, naive, and forgiving. It really smacks of Apple disrespecting its fans.

As for Leopard itself, although tempted to rush out and join the early adopters, I think this time I will wait a few weeks, probably until 10.5.1 comes out. That’s not to say Apple has any sort of track record like Microsoft’s disasters with first versions of operating systems. Rather, it says more about me being happy with Tiger and seeing no compelling features in Leopard to make me salivate and want to upgrade immediately. Maybe those missing top secret features would have made Leopard a compelling upgrade.

* Image courtesy of Engadget


  • Although, unless there is something under the hood that’s as significant as a change to Linux, it’s looking unlikely.

    Guided tour of Leopard

    Chris Howard had this to say on Oct 20, 2007 Posts: 1209
  • This is another case of misplaced expectations - essentially, folks like Chris set it up, in their minds, what expected ‘secret’ features are supposed to be (in this case, apparently and incredously, that Apple switch out their existing OS kernel with a Linux based one…??), and when such utopian features fail to materialize, folks like Chris cry ‘foul’, and take out their self-created frustration on Apple/Steve Jobs by writing blog entries claiming they were being lied to.

    First of all, it’s quite obvious that Chris hasn’t even had a chance to get any closer to Leopard than the initial introduction, announcements, and the current Apple spec pages - because if he even had spent 10 minutes on a machine running Leopard over the past few weeks, he would know how silly his entire tirade reads, and he’d have come “ to bury Leopard, but to praise it…”

    Sadly, there’s far too many jilted fanbois in the peanut galleries, who take their displeasure to blogs, when Apple doesn’t exactly deliver what THEY want or expect.

    Well, NEWSFLASH, Apple is not beholden to Chris’ fantasies (I know, how preposterous), and holds a lot of other features in higher priority that Chris’ priorities:

    Personally, I consider performance improvements on the scale of 1x to 2x over regular Tiger systems, including on legacy PowerPC G4 based machines, to be more important - especially since that wasn’t announced as a ‘feature’.

    Tighter and more feature complete integration with dot-mac, and other internet technologies will also stand out.

    Lastly, when our iPhones will have new and improved features, that tie directly into new Leopard technologies, I have a feeling that there’ll be a lot of happy campers around.

    A HUGE number of improvements under the hood of Leopard will make all of these possible - and not preannouncing these quiet features could be considered ‘close to the vest’, and they will become apparent as more folks start putting Leopard to good use…. and Chris won’t be waiting until 10.5.1 to rush out and buy it. I’m only wondering if he’s got enough spine to revisit this silly article, and redact it.

    ZinkDifferent had this to say on Oct 20, 2007 Posts: 1
  • ssentially, folks like Chris set it up, in their minds

    Sorry but that’s bullcrap.  Chris’s point, and it’s a valid one, is that Jobs lives by the hype machine.  He uses it to build up unreasonable excitement to fuel sales.

    Occassionally, that hype machine backfires and people will complain that it didn’t live up to expectations - expectations created by Jobs.

    Live by the hype, die by the hype.  Apple can’t have it both ways - all of the good and none of the bad, no matter how much the apologists like Zink would like it that way.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 20, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • Zink, what’s misplaced is objectiveness. If this was Bill Gates and Vista we were talking about, there’d be a lynching party of Apple fanboys after him.

    Through *civil* discussion on this topic, I’ve come to realise it’s likely that, rather than not existing, the “top secret” features couldn’t make it into 10.5.0.

    Unlike MS who tout new features and then have to pull them, SJ was at least smart enough to not name them.

    Also, I never meant to suggest the secret feature would be a change to a Linux base. That was merely an example of what could *yet* be the “top secret” feature and to demonstrate how significant a “top secret” feature could be.

    And if you’re having trouble with “top secret”, defined in OS X’s dictionary as “given the highest security classification”, here’s some examples of things Apple kept top secret in the last few years:

    - the iPhone
    - the switch to Intel
    - the Mighty Mouse (an admission, after 20 years, that people did want some sort of right click from their mouse *without* keyboard intervention.)

    Notice a trend? These were all huge, some even caused Hell to freeze over. And they were all kept top secret until announced (not released).

    Steve made a big thing of the “top secret” at WWDC06 and has not mentioned it since. It’s reasonable that we call him to account, just as we do Bill Gates.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Oct 20, 2007 Posts: 1209
  • I agree.

    Benji had this to say on Oct 21, 2007 Posts: 927
  • So, anyone ordered Leopard yet or going to get it within the first week?

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 21, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • I am still very tempted to - I do like to have the latest and greatest - but will wait and let others discover the bugs. If nothing turns up in the first week or so, then I’ll be right on it.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Oct 21, 2007 Posts: 1209
  • IIRC, I upgraded to Tiger fairly quickly.  I could upgrade for $10 so I wanted to take advantage.  No problems that I recall, although I had not been using OS X that long so I had nothing to break.

    Not so with Leopard.  I don’t fear little bugs so much as the bugs like the one that wiped out external firewire drives.  Now THAT was a “bug.”

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 22, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • I also agree that SJ uses the hype machine every chance he gets, but that’s also one of his roles as ‘chief showman’.  With regard to the ‘top secret’ features, I, like others, have no idea what he was referring to, but I have my own guesses, and those include ZFS and suddenly finding that your four cylinder engine was transformed into a V12 - mostly under the hood improvements that will be unfold over time.

    MacIrish had this to say on Oct 22, 2007 Posts: 1
  • Beeb said: Now THAT was a “bug.”


    When I was a kid, we had to work 35 hour shifts twice a day to make our own bugs.

    And if they didn’t fry the entire motherboard to a smoldering black crisp, our dads would make us reverse engineer DOS, debug the entire thing, add multitasking support with memory protection, repackage and sell it on the shareware market for $9.95, and on the meagre takings, launch a takeover bid on Atari Corporation.

    And all before we got up in the morning.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Oct 22, 2007 Posts: 1209
  • “Installing Apple’s new operating system may make a computer less secure, according to a report by a security firm”

    wyspa had this to say on Nov 01, 2007 Posts: 9
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