The latest version of the Mac OS X operating system - Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard - is so bug-ridden that Apple is currently prepping a massive update for release in January.

The Mac OS X 10.5.2 download is said to weigh in at a massive 362MB (for the combo updater) - making it the biggest incremental update ever to any version of Mac OS X, according to Apple Insider. Mac OS X 10.5.2 is expected to squash 76 bugs, many of which have drawn the ire of Mac users on both PowerPC and Intel platforms.

It's become increasingly clear since Leopard launched in October that PowerPC Mac owners have been particularly hard hit by the upgrade. This is arguably because Apple devoted most of its development time and testing on the Intel version used in the latest Macs, rather than on older 'legacy' hardware. That's certainly reflected in own experience of Leopard: our Intel-based MacBook Pro now works almost flawlessly; our PowerPC based Power Mac G5 is riddled with problems, including frequent crashes.

So numerous are the bugs in Leopard that Mac user forums are awash with complaints, as are Apple's own Leopard Discussion boards.

Many of Leopard's problems are a result of a triple-whammy Apple has dealt Mac OS X this year: the launch of the iPhone, an artificially-imposed deadline October deadline and core code changes that adversely impacted some third-party developers.

Leopard certainly isn't the disaster that Windows Vista has been, but its flaws have been significant enough to cause much wailing and gnashing of teeth among the Mac community. Let's hope the January update marks a significant improvement, and that the Leopard continues to get better with age.