7 things you'll love about Leopard

Who says the Mac isn't ready for enterprise?

6. Front Row

Apple's answer to Microsoft's Windows Media Center Edition took a long time coming. At first Jobs was dismissive of MCE, and then in October 2005 the first Macs started shipping with their own remote controls and Front Row - a simple Mac alternative to MCE.

The version included in Leopard though is all new. It's been lifted from Apple TV and is quick, slick and lovely to look at. You don't even need an Apple remote to use it - it can be invoked either by clicking on its application in the Dock or by pressing the Command (Apple) and Esc key at the same time.

Front Row gives you access to any QuickTime compatible movies stored on your home network, can playback podcasts and songs from iTunes, even display your photos as a full screen slideshow. Apple is clearly playing catch-up with MCE here, but it's done so in a way that's very pleasurable to use.

7. Speed and responsiveness

We've been playing with Leopard on both a 64-bit Power Mac G5 and a 32-bit Intel-based MacBook Pro. Given that Leopard is now pre-eminently a 64-bit OS, and Intel's been kicking butt in the CPU space, we should be seeing some Leopard fur fly, shouldn't we?

Certainly every other version of Mac OS X has bested the predecessor when it comes to outright speed. On our MacBook Pro, Leopard is fast and stable. It boots up from a cold start in just 29 seconds, while applications like Address Book, iCal and Mail open up in a couple of bounces of their icon in the Dock.

Unsurprisingly the slowest apps are the those Carbon-based ones that are running on the Core 2 Duo using Rosetta - Apple's PowerPC emulation app. Microsoft Word 2004 for Mac, for example, takes eight bounces to launch. Adobe Photoshop Elements is around the same.

Things are currently less clear-cut with the PowerPC version even with its two 64-bit 2GHz processor on board. We're still evaluating its performance. We'll bring you our conclusions in our full Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard review coming soon.