Backstage: Apple’s wise silence on Tiger and Macs

MacDailyNews Snarky, yes, but it’s a fun read. And even when its editorial comments are over the top, I still enjoy the selection of stories. Today’s story (“Apple’s Biggest Blunder In Years: the Unconscionable Lack of Mac Advertising”) really caught my attention. The concept: “If Apple blows their current ‘Windows’ of opportunity by not educating the general public about Mac OS X Tiger’s capabilities, they have only themselves to blame for not grabbing new users. Apple’s continued silence on TV, in print, and elsewhere about their Mac products could rival some of the company’s biggest blunders. We have absolutely no idea why Apple is not advertising the Mac.

There’s a good reason for this, and one that true believers in the Mac community should be aware of: despite all its great new features, Tiger has some serious problems under the hood. Really serious ones – more serious than the ones noted by straight-shooter Anand over at AnandTech, and things that would turn away people who are attracted by Apple advertisements: complete system lockups, kernel panics, application crashes, and other highly un-Mac-like experiences have become a daily part of my life since a few days after installing Tiger, and many other Mac users are having the same issues. Here are just a few samples from Apple’s discussion forums:

Tiger killed my machine
“itunes will just sit there if you let it, spinning the beach ball of doom. You can’t log out, you can’t shut down. I’ve rebuilt my library. I have deleted all of my preferences, i have re installed Itunes. I am about to throw the thing through a window, and demand all of my money and then my data back. … I have plenty of space, plenty of ram, adequate system resources, and serious experience with os X. This is baffling me, and its an affront to all of the things I come to expect from Apple.”

Support me Apple
“…I get the spinning beachball of death. Thinking maybe spotlight was indexing the machine I let it run for about 4 hours. Nothing happened. So now I have rebooted it like 10 times since. Twice it has worked and the other 8 it has just hung there. I talked to Apple Support for about an hour and a half and I think the guy gave up on me.”

Buy Tiger, just don’t install it
“As an Apple shareholder I would be happy if you bought Tiger, but as a frustrated upgrading user I would sadly recommend you wait until an update comes out before you install. I have a pretty standard system with no weird tweaks. Yet, EVERYTHING that I need on a daily basis, which worked in Panther, is now broken.”

There are many, many other posts like these, too. See MacFixIt for just a few more of them.

I’m a huge Mac fan, and was as thrilled as anyone to put Tiger on my machines. And I’m directly responsible for the purchase of 3 new Macs in the last week alone. But I’m strongly recommending that people follow the latter Apple poster’s advice; there’s no doubt in my mind that Tiger will be fixed, yet right now as I deal with the 20th or 30th kernel panic (and complete system lockup) I’ve experienced in the last 3 days, I honestly cannot believe that Apple shipped a product capable of causing this many problems. I’ve heard and tried all of Apple tech support’s suggestions – pull third-party RAM, pull the devices, try a new user account, try a clean install… None of them work. I’m fairly convinced that Tiger’s the problem – my brand-new dual G5 was working flawlessly for 2 months before it was installed, and so these suggestions are all just time-wasting stuff until 10.4.1 comes out.

My guess is that Apple’s not advertising the Mac and Tiger yet because it knows how many problems there are, and also knows that any new Windows “switcher” would sooner return a buggy Mac than keep it with a bunch of Windows-like hassles. I’ve heard that story before (“PC to Mac… and Back”), and it’s unpleasant to say the least. Once the problems are fixed, and 10.4.1 discs are inside retail boxes, the advertising will commence in force. As someone who’s already made the Tiger conversion, I’m just praying that Apple doesn’t take too long.

Updated Note to MDN Readers: Welcome and thanks for reading. I actually agree with MDN’s comment that Apple should have been touting Panther – but Tiger’s (currently) a step backwards in stability from my experiences. If 10.4.1 truly fixes the bugs we know are in there, there shall be much rejoicing, and I fully agree that the advertising should commence post-haste.

Update 2: A day after pulling Apple’s RAM and replacing it with Crucial’s, the system’s locking up again; the latest error message implicated the kernel. I’ve been running Temperature Monitor to see whether any of this has to do with escalating temperatures inside the G5, and all of the temperatures (including the CPUs and memory controller heatsink) appear to be within normal limits. My most recent Tiger crash came when the CPUs were each running at around 133 degrees F, give or take a degree.

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