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Apple Polishes A Few Recent Releases

Over two days last week, Apple pushed out a pair of operating-system updates that included bigger changes than the usual maintenance release.

Users of Apple's older Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger software got the first upgrade. The 10.4.11 update issued last Wednesday, in addition to fixing various bugs in OS X, also brings Apple's new Safari 3 Web browser.

First released in beta earlier this year, Safari 3 represents a major advance. It catches up to Mozilla Firefox with its find-on-this-page command, which instantly highlights all the words matching your search. It arguably surpasses its open-source competitor with its upgraded support for tabbed browsing: Not only can you rearrange the order of tabs in one window by dragging them left and right, you can also merge multiple browser windows into one.

Safari 3 also fixes some issues with its page-rendering code that had kept it from working properly at some sites. For instance, you can finally use Yahoo Mail's new interface, and Gmail correspondents can employ that site's formatting toolbar when composing a new message.

(The Windows version of Safari remains in testing, although Apple did release an updated beta of it last week as well.)

Users of Apple's just-released Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard got their own round of fixes a day later when the company released its 10.5.1 update--just 20 days after Leopard's release. This addresses two of the biggest issues with this operating system.

One was a serious bug that could eat files if you tried copying them to an external drive but had the transfer interrupted. Apple says it's fixed now. The other was a software firewall that did not accurately describe its workings and which could stop other programs from working. That one has also been fixed, in the sense that the firewall's preferences window now correctly describes its options and lets you re-authorize the operation of programs that it thinks have been modified instead of silently handcuffing them.

But Leopard's firewall still doesn't offer a simple "block all" option to maximize your security in situations where you can't trust other computers around you--say, if you're using a strange wireless network at a hackers' conference. The closest this firewall gets is an "Enable Stealth Mode" option, hidden behind an "Advanced..." button. This concealed a Mac's network services from a Windows laptop on the same wireless network--but, contrary to its labeling, did not hide the Mac's existence from a standard network-security program, nmap.

Apple released one other significant patch on Thursday; its iMac Graphics Firmware Update 1.0 is intended to stop some new iMacs from randomly locking up or freezing because of glitches in their graphics circuitry. My colleague David Segal, an iMac owner who has been frustrated by this problem for months, said on Friday that it seemed to have cured his Mac.

How have these updates worked out for you? Let me know in the comments...

By Rob Pegoraro  |  November 19, 2007; 9:36 AM ET
Categories:  Mac  
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"polishes" - for leopard don't you mean fix a product not ready for release. what would you have said if MS did the same thing?

Posted by: hk | November 19, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

It's amazing 10.5.1 is already out, this brings back bad memories of iTunes 7.

Posted by: BR | November 19, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Firefox has had the ability to rearrange tabs for a while now, and merging tabs is possible with an extension installation.

Posted by: EH | November 19, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I have not noticed any glitches with Leopard. The download was pretty large --for the update. Safari is great. No issues. New mail is fantastic.

I had not noticed any of the issues mentioned as the reason for the upgtade. I'm still baffled by the changes to iPhoto -- seems my photos have been saved in multiple formats, and there are lots of blank icons in the middle of the iPhoto gallery. I have no idea what they are doing in there. I like the events idea....but no idea where some of the nice features of iPhoto 6 are on this new version. I want to know how to get the full screen version for viewing photos -- not slideshow -- which is so nice in iPhoto 6. The new version of iPhoto does not have the button on the bottom of the main page. It is the biggest stumper so far. Otherwise, Leopard seems very stable and smooth.

Posted by: rjrjj | November 19, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

HK, you chump, how long does MS wait before issuing the sort of update Apple just did? How long until Service Pack 2, for example, came out and sealed the roughly eight billion security holes that'd languished, open, until that fix (and ignored the many others that still exist)?

Gotta love those who can't just read a simple report of the facts w/o twisting it; work for the Current Occupant, too, do you?

Posted by: Bush -- not related | November 19, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Well said Bush.

The fixes are not crucial system errors, they are just some small items that got overlooked in the Beta stage. The firewall issue is not nearly as big as everyone made it out to be. The functionality was fine, it just had some confusing interface issues. There is still a small bit of work to be done in that sector, but overall the firewall works fine.

My only complaint with Leopard is that it eats up a lot more memory than Tiger. I notice a substantial difference in startup and login time, and that's on my shiny new MBP.

All in all, the update is a good thing. Early fixes are much better than waiting to find every last bug, glitch, and fallacy like Microsatan does.

Posted by: Parker Teague | November 19, 2007 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Safari won't catch up with Firefox until there is an equivalent to Adblock Plus. Once you start blocking ads, you can't go back.

Posted by: wk | November 19, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

wow, name calling. That is impressive. Really impressive.

I own multiples PC's and Macs, and my upgrade to Vista has been a lot easier than Leopard.

I'll compare sp2 to OS 9 anytime you want. We are talking about RECENT releases, not the past. Let's hold everyone to high standards, or let's hold no one. Your argument is pretty sad and only based on bashing, not on facts.

Enjoy your childish behaviour!

Posted by: hk | November 19, 2007 6:15 PM | Report abuse

I agree with "hk". MS is not all that bad; could be better, even.
Depending on how deep you dig into & fiddle around with both "XP" & "OS X".
Might seem trivial to you when the file juz disappeared during back-up/transfer interruption. Definitely, I think it's very serious, whether/not it's more/less serious compared to the "XP" flaws that someone pointed out in the comment.
I'm certainly on "XP" side. In fact, I'm still loving it, compared to "OS X 4 Tiger".
But, let's just remember, "Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder.

Posted by: msu | November 19, 2007 7:42 PM | Report abuse

hk: "polishes" - for leopard don't you mean fix a product not ready for release. what would you have said if MS did the same thing?

the product absolutely was ready for release. there are some things that just aren't able to be addressed until the mass market gets its hands on them. had microsoft addressed its issues within three weeks of a major release, i'm sure rob would've praised their quick response time. when 5 years separates your two major releases this decade to date, though, it's difficult to offer praise.

Posted by: driver guy | November 19, 2007 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Grow up Guys use linux !! Apple is a walled garden like M$ , firewal example proves that

Posted by: gp | November 19, 2007 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Can't open Gmail with Safari 3. It worked fine in the Beta version.

Posted by: CF | November 20, 2007 12:49 AM | Report abuse

The Opera browser is far superior to Safari 3 or Firefox. It's a shame no one knows about it. It's soooo much better.

Posted by: justin | November 20, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

When Microsoft gets things horribly, horribly wrong the first time, as in Vista, people say, "well, it was a big job, hard to do, they'll make it better sooner or later."

When Apple gets a few things very slightly wrong (and one thing -- file copying -- very very wrong) in a given release, it's a massive failure on Apple's part. Off with Jobs' head!

Or maybe people should just get a grip? Apple's quality engineering kicks M$'s hind any day.

Any company other than M$ would go out of business after a fiasco like Vista.

Posted by: same story, different day | November 20, 2007 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Rob, I would love an article that gives another perpective on the PC to Mac transition: that it can be hell. It has been amazing to me as I complete the switch how very little infomation and support there is from Apple (if there was they would be closer to 30% of the market in my mind) and how absolutely terrible many of the 3rd party products I've had to use have been (if I had known what this would be I would have either thrown my Pocket PC smartphone in the lake or not bought the iMac). One other thing: the transition to Mac has been brutal on my wrists. I use a mouse on the Mac at least twice as much as on the PC.

Posted by: Jon B. | November 21, 2007 4:02 AM | Report abuse

The Tiger firmware update seems to be causing a lot of problems. I'm still using Tiger and when I downloaded the firmware update Safari didn't work. After a couple of hours on the phone with tech support, I finally had to archive and reinstall the OS, which meant losing all my Safari bookmarks and going back to version 10.4.7. Now I'm thinking twice about upgrading to the new version.

Posted by: Katherine | November 21, 2007 8:20 AM | Report abuse

The Tiger update was flawless on our mini. The new Safari is nice (I'm playing with it now), but until Safari incorporates Google suggest and other engines into the toolbar search, I'll stick with Firefox.

One of the things I love about my Linux box and really wish Apple would do is to put the home directory on a separate partition from the OS that way you can wipe and reinstall at will with out loosing personal settings.

Posted by: Norm | November 21, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I should've known we'd have a little Mac-vs.-PC flameage going on here :)

I think it is fair to criticize Apple for letting some of these bugs get into the shipping version of Leopard. The file-copying bug seems like the kind of thing that should have been caught early on. Saying "Microsoft does it" doesn't seem like much of an excuse, not when Apple goes to great lengths to describe its products as superior to Microsoft's.

* CF: Please give me some details about your troubles with Gmail--an error message, what Gmail said, etc. You're the only person to have reported any problems using Gmail in Safari 3.

* Jon B.: Pretty much all of the people who have gone from PC to Mac have told me they've been happy about it. That would include my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law, my old editor, several colleagues of mine, dozens of readers, a random woman on a crosstown bus in NYC... the list goes on. As for your specific points: To sync a Windows Mobile device, you'll need to pick up Mark/Space's $40 Missing Sync software. Mac OS X does include keyboard shortcuts for almost everything, and in most cases they match what's in Windows almost key-for-key (Cmd-Tab instead of Alt-Tab, for instance). What can't you do with the keyboard?

* Katherine, Norm: You should never have to lose data from reinstalling Mac OS X. That's what the "Archive and Install" option is there for.

- RP

Posted by: Rob Pegoraro | November 21, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: peter | November 25, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

I had an iMac with the graphics glitch/constantly freezing issue. Since installing the GPU patch, I have been trouble free. Checking some of the other Mac message boards, this is typical--looks like they've truly solved the problem (finally). Although, it seems that there are many very frustrated iMac owners out there who've had their machines in and out of the repair shop for months while they tried hardware replacement after hardware replacement. I'm glad I didn't bother with that headache, but hindsight is 20-20, I suppose.

Posted by: Brian | November 26, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

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