Originally Posted by iMat
Microsoft Windows 7 getting better? This is a piece of news that should affect every Mac enthusiast who doesn't wear blindfolds.
Apple has an edge, in my opinion, in a combination of factors, OSX being only one of them. But it is true that Snow Leopard brought only under the hood changes, which is a good idea in my opinion, but it is also true that if nobody (software) profits from these changes they are as good as useless. iCal and Mail have never been the most resource intensive tasks my MBP performs.. Happy to see they are faster, but ArchiCAD and Aperture in my case are the two that might benefit MUCH more from being 64bit and GCD compatible. So that is something Apple has to fix next.
There's no doubt that the desktop experience could probably use some sort of updates to smooth usage - SL actually seems to have made drag/drop between spaces worse. Where I used to be able to start a drag, invoke it, drag over the space I wanted, f8 again, focus doesn't seem to follow now and I end up back where I started unless I hit the space bar when over the target window. I do like the dock exposé, though once invoked it would be nice if you could still mouse over apps and get exposé to show what's on the other apps - like the Win7 taskbar, IIRC.
Win7 still isn't a compelling reason to move from OSX, but it's at least not wretched. On the other hand, it can't fix the rest of the windows apps with nasty user experience - there's just something about using apps there that makes them feel really awful and grates on my nerves, which I think is what Walt Mossberg was alluding to towards the end of the review as well. Something about Windows & its apps puts me on edge - and I've used it a lot
in the past at work.
In terms of the underlying architecture - the GCD stuff is great (I've been converting some of my code from single-threaded onto this with ease, will move the already-threaded parts onto it soon...), but as you say, Mail and iCal while maybe a bit snappier won't really wow users. I did see a HUGE improvement on multithreaded render times on Carrara (renders with large textures would run slower on 4 cores than 2, now it's pretty much linear speedup as you would hope) - I think the updated SL kernel does a much better job of binding threads to cores, at least I assume the problem before was cache thrashing of some sort. Maybe there are visible improvements on other apps that aren't tuned for 64bit / GCD yet as well... But again, not sure how many users will notice that?
I'm actually wondering what tasks that 'normal' users do will really take noticeable advantage of OpenCL / GCD type improvements anyway - certainly surfing, mail, etc. aren't going to sell it. I have a 3 year old Mac Pro (the 2x2 @ 2.66GHz with 12GB RAM) and I have to say I really don't feel compelled to upgrade yet - it's still a fantastic box, even more so now with SL. (Now, I will upgrade when 6 or 8 core CPUs show up for a 12-16 core box plus hyperthreading - I use this machine day in/out for development and graphics work, and that would definitely at least speed up compiles and renders.)
Anyway, I think the plumbing on SL is much more of an improvement than what Win7 is over Vista - and that's still full of registry / dll / etc. junk, but Win7 'polished the turd' with more UI tweaks where with SL end users mostly will wonder if there's anything new. Wonder what the 8/16 core + OpenCL future will bring that really uses all of that horsepower...