Poor Timing: G5 and Panther

by Hadley Stern Sep 23, 2003

My Dadís blue and white G3 had served him well for 5 years. But even it wasnít strong enough to protect itself from the latest blackout that hit the East Coast last month. The G3 was connected to a hardware store variety surge protector that apparently didnít do its job. When the lights came on in Ottawa 28 hours later the G3 stayed dark.

Luckily the files on the hard drive were recoverable so my Dad was able to work on my Momís Bondi blue iMac. Naturally, the first thing my Dad did was check out the Apple site and lo and behold there were the new G5ís beckoning him. After a few weeks of waiting his new G5 is here and I am both happy for him and jealous at the same time!

The blue and white G3 ran OS 9. My Dad is not one of those people who is instantly comfortable with an operating system so there will be some transition time for him to OS X. This is made even more frustrating by the fact that the new G5s donít ship with Panther. How many legacy OS 9 users who are salivating at the G5ís and the opportunity to run OS X (especially now since all the big applications are available for OS X) only to have to re-learn some of the interface when Panther is released. I suspect a large number.

While the G5 and Panther are both large projects on their own Apple has known about them for months, if not over a year. And while I am not suggesting that Apple should have delayed releasing the G5s I am suggesting that Apple has mis-timed its product releases in a big way. While Panther is OS X the way it deals with windows in the finder is remarkably different to Jaguar. Itís not just the finder but the core OS X apps, like Mail, Address Book, etc. that are being updated. To power users or those who find computers intuitive these changes are minor. To others like my Dad, upgrading to Panther a month or two after getting used to Jaguar is not an ideal customer experience.

Apart from individual users large buyers (like ad agencies, educational customers, corporations, etc.) are going to have transition issues as it is. Many agencies are using the G5ís as a transition platform to OS X. The additional mini-transition to Panther will be unfortunate.

Apart from usability concerns there is also the question of the almighty upgrade price. Apple has irritated users in the past with its tendency to charge for upgrades frequently. I was in an Apple store this morning and asked if I bought a G5 today would the upgrade to Panther be free. The salesperson did not know. Will this mis-timing by Apple be a monetary issue as well as a usability one? Only time will tell.

In the meantime I suggested my Dad buy an APC like surge protector for his new G5. I suggest you do the same, unless you want a convenient, yet expensive, excuse to upgrade.


  • My guess is all he had to do to get his G3 to work again was hit the reset switch on the motherboard… I have seen it countless times. Usually after lightning storms, power outages, etc., the machine must be reset. Even disconnecting and reconnecting the power supply, etc. will do nothing - but holding down the rest switch on the MBD for 15 seconds will cure a dead Mac.


    Eytan Bernet had this to say on Sep 23, 2003 Posts: 15
  • I agree 100%. I’m going to buy a G5 when it comes loaded with Panther. Why would I want to upgrade 2 months after I buy it?

    tbone had this to say on Sep 23, 2003 Posts: 2
  • Well, I’m looking to buy a 15” powerbook with Panther installed. A G5 and a Virtual PC combo for web development won’t work. Bummer. Although the new powerbook’s seem to lack the L3 cache that VPC thrive on. Haven’t heard if there is a serious speed drop though. There are still alternative emulators like Openosx’s WinTel that do work on the G5, but WinTel seems to have some speed issues. Time will tell, so I’ll wait until Panther is out. The timing does suck. It would have been beter if Panther had come out first. Releasing both however sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. But Apple couldn’t hold the off the hardware launch, they needed to released the G5 to boost sales figures for the last quarter. Waiting a few more months would have ruined a great opportunity to round the year off with a healthy balance sheet. Bad news (weak year reports) just doesn’t sell well to shareholders.

    Oh thanx for the heads up on surge protectors, I’ve always meant to get a proper one. I’d better get a good one quick. Power problems seem to be hitting Europe also.

    Egor Kloos had this to say on Sep 23, 2003 Posts: 8
  • People moving from OS 9 to X is major, no matter how you look at it. Moving to Panther would be easier in that mainly things “just work” in Panther, where in Jaguar they just didn’t. Lots of polishing of functionality, and tweaking of interface.

    I thought Jaguar was the shit, until I started using Panther. Users that start using Jag will be the same - they won’t be missing what they don’t have. 10.1 upgrade to 10.2 was a whole different story however.

    My opinion is that mac buyers understand the separation of OS and Hardware, and their different upgrade cycles. But hardware buyers within 2 months of a software upgrade should _never_ need to pay for that upgrade.

    Nathan had this to say on Sep 23, 2003 Posts: 219
  • addendum to the above - “I thought Jaguar was the ‘shizznit’...”

    Nathan had this to say on Sep 23, 2003 Posts: 219
  • The last couple of times this happened Apple Honored the Mac-Up-To-Date program and allowed people buying hardware after the announcement of an imminent OS to upgrade for $15-20. I wouldn’t doubt they will do that again.

    Eytan Bernet had this to say on Sep 24, 2003 Posts: 15
  • Panther is indeed $19.99 ($20) for people who just bought G5s. Still, it should be free.

    In any case, I can’t afford a G5, but if I was going to get one… I’d wait until at least the 3rd generation models hit the shelves this time next year.

    Waa had this to say on Oct 29, 2003 Posts: 110
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