Mac OS X 10.5.2 Update: A very good release

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
February 12th, 2008 • 10:53 am

Thanks to my involvement in the AppleSeed program, I have been able to use Mac OS X 10.5.2 update for the past few weeks and, now that it has been officially released, I can confirm that, based on my own experience, it is a very good release indeed.

First of all, it eliminates all the “UI stutters” and mouse tracking flakiness that I had been experiencing with Mac OS X 10.5.0 and Mac OS X 10.5.1. The mouse pointer moves smoothly at all times and I no longer see the entire UI locking up for a second or two on occasion, especially after switching to a background application that has not been used for a while.

Secondly, it addresses most of the issues with the Stacks feature in the Dock, by providing an option to switch the icon display from a useless and confusing stack of file icons to the more consistent and intuitive normal folder icon display and by providing an option to display the contents of the folder as a normal menu list instead of the fairly useless and confusing grid and fan display options. It’s still unfortunate that the folder icon and list display option are not the default settings, but at least we now have the desired options.

Thirdly, you can now switch off the menu bar translucency in the “Desktop & Screen Saver” preference pane.

It is good to see that Apple is listening to criticism and addressing the concerns and frustrations of many Mac OS X users. It is also good to see that it did not take them years to address these concerns. And it is good to see them actually document these changes in release notes. They won’t admit that they were wrong with the introduction of these silly new “features” to begin with (and they probably will never eliminate them altogether), but at least they have the humility to rectify the situation and document the changes.

The release notes also mention a number of other changes, of course.

Sadly, this update does not address the annoying problems in Mail, including the fact that it does not play rule sounds reliably and still removes text colouring when replying to a message that has been coloured by a rule. It also does not fix the problem with Mail playing its sounds through the wrong output. I guess the Mail team works on a different schedule.

As well, as far as I can tell, the Mac OS X 10.5.2 does not address the issues with various USB devices (including my Apple USB modem) causing kernel panics. I am assuming that this is because it is a problem that is difficult to reproduce in-house—although I certain don’t have any problems reproducing it in my house. Or maybe they can reproduce it but the problem is deep-rooted and difficult to fix and will take more time. In my situation, it’s not such a big deal, because it only affects my ability to use the Apple USB modem for caller ID display, but I suspect that there are other users who get kernel panics with more vital USB devices and must be quite frustrated.

So, it’s not all rosy and there is of course still plenty of room for improvement. Still, I must say that the combination of the improvements that Mac OS X 10.5 brought (particularly in Spotlight and Safari) and the fixes provided by this latest update make for a very satisfactory experience, and I am particularly pleased that we already have, so soon after the initial release of Mac OS X 10.5.0, a system that is indeed already very usable and reliable and quite well designed.

And for that, Apple’s team of engineers deserve our congratulations.

4 Responses to “Mac OS X 10.5.2 Update: A very good release”

  1. ssp says:

    Yes, a very mixed bag indeed. While I’d say the faux-transparent menu bar problem hasn’t been solved unless that ugly extra preference has been removed from system preferences again (I mean this is the Mac, a new preference for each bad idea should remain in a feature of Linux world), we at least have a one-click solution for the main problem now. It even restores subpixel anti-aliasing.

    Stability-wise, my impressions may not be as good as yours, though.

  2. MaCinJay says:

    The size of the update (pity those with dial-up) and number of bug-fixes really adds weight to the argument that Leopard was rushed out of the door to avoid further embarrassing delays to its release date.

    The changes to Stacks are certainly for the better, although I will still use the fan view for quick access to my most recent downloads. I’ll also be keeping my menu bar translucent for now as I prefer it to Tiger’s bland gray strip but it’s good to now I can change it in need.

    Choice is always good, after all.

  3. corbin says:

    Did you notice that this bug is fixed too:


  4. Pierre Igot says:

    It’s not fixed, on my machine at least.

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