Apple Leopard: From Questionable Customer Service To Questionable OS?
Yes, Macs are showing the blue screen of death.
This is something I never thought I’d hear myself say - or maybe I should say, see myself type - about an Apple operating system: Mac OSX Leopard was released before it was ready. This operating system needed more testing on more systems with more hardware, and especially, more software configurations. The days of Apple computers operating with just the Mac OS and Adobe Photoshop installed, and practically nothing else to speak of, are long gone, and Apple knows this as well as anyone. This operating system was not properly beta tested, and Apple’s customers are paying for it, with lost productivity and inoperative computers.
Perhaps the most troublesome of the problems has been a data loss issue caused by Finder, which performs a function on Macs similar to that of Explorer in Windows. In Leopard, when Finder moves a file from one drive to another, it deletes the file from the originating hard drive, without first checking to see if the file arrived safely on the destination hard drive. If anything goes wrong during the file transfer, such as a momentary power glitch on the destination hard drive, the file would then be destroyed on both hard drives.
Leopard users hoped that a free maintenance update (OSX 10.5.1), released on Thursday, November 15, would fix the issue, but Apple’s statement accompanying the update is too vague to give a definitive answer. With regard to data loss, it states that "... a potential data loss issue when moving files across partitions ..." has been fixed, but moving files across hard drives is not addressed. Personally, I wouldn’t want to bet my important data on that statement.
In an unrelated issue, data recovery firm Retrodata has found a disturbing hard drive failure rate in some Apple Macbooks. Quoting from the Retrodata Web site: "We at Retrodata believe that any sizeable manufacturer would by this stage be aware of such a problem and issue a product recall notice, or an offer to have the drive exchanged for a suitable alternative at their own expense." If you own an Apple Macbook with a Seagate hard drive, I strongly suggest you check out the details available at Retrodata.
As disturbing as data loss is, this next problem is the Apple version of a bombshell. Thanks to Leopard, the dreaded Blue Screen of Death is now a part of the Mac operating system. When I first tell this to Mac users that haven’t yet upgraded to Leopard, I usually hear something like "Yeah, I get Blue Screens of Death when I use Windows on my Mac". No, that’s not quite what I mean - Blue Screens of Death are occurring not only in Windows, but in Leopard as well.
The problem, to a certain extent, has been acknowledged by Apple. Although, in a move which I find somewhat amusing, Apple refuses to refer to the problem as a "Blue Screen of Death". Apparently they find the term, historically associated with Windows, somewhat distasteful. Instead, Apple simply uses the term "Blue Screen". The problem is recognized by Apple on top searches also shows the # 1 search to be " ’Blue screen’ appears after install". A Mac user in this thread actually had the audacity to use the term "Blue Screen of Death" in a post, which ultimately led to him or her being referred to as a "crackpot" by the Apple faithful.
Leopard has been plagued by a series of other problems as well. There are graphics artifacts followed by freezes, which may be caused by the new operating system’s increased use of the Mac graphics card. A poster at AppleInsider.com reports returning four new iMacs because of this problem. A search for Freeze or Lock or Hangs in Apple’s Leopard discussion groups returns the maximum allowable 500 hits.
There are also two bugs in the usually trouble-free Mac firewall. The first caused the firewall to be installed turned off by default, which some Mac users didn’t find out about until they ran into problems. The second refused to allow some third party applications to access the Internet, including, of all things, World of Warcraft. Yeah, that’ll be good for building support among gamers! The OSX 10.5.1 update claims to have firewall fixes, but again, it’s not specific as to whether these particular issues have been addressed.
There are a variety of other reports, including a Mac Pro becoming Is it me, or is Leopard just a mess?. Apple locked the topic, preventing replies. Another user echoed my sentiments at the start of this article by asking apple.com/mac/, an Apple ad on the left side of the page says "Leopard just works".
I have no doubt that it will someday. But today, it does not.
I had planned on ending this article there, but I have one quick note for anyone who has had online conversations with Apple over issues such as those discussed above, only to find that Apple had disabled caching, so that you can’t find a copy of the conversation in your browser cache, and also disabled printing and saving, so that you can’t print or save the chat. I found an easy work around:
Double click on the lock icon at the bottom of the browser window. This opens a properties dialog with 5 tabs. Click the first tab. At the top of the first tab page is a URL. Select this URL and paste it in your browser. The URL contains a copy of your chat on Apple’s server. Apple probably keeps it there for internal review use, so it certainly won’t be there for long. It’s probably a good idea to both print and save a copy of your chat immediately.