OS X then and now: What's changed since the beta

By Benj Edwards, Macworld |  Software, Mac OS X

Since OS X Public Beta, released ten years ago on September 13, 2000, Apple has launched seven major versions of Mac OS X. During that long evolution, Apple has changed many things about its operating system: Finder behavior, bundled applications, appearance, and more. The most recent release--2009's Snow Leopard--packs features that would have made users of early OS X very jealous indeed.

In honor of OS X's tenth anniversary, let's examine at some of the more notable differences between the public beta that debuted a decade ago and today's version of OS X.

Menu Bar

Every version of Mac OS has sported a tiny Apple logo in the far left corner of the menu bar that runs across the top of the screen. In a curious design choice, Apple decided to shift this logo's location to the center of the menu bar in OS X Public Beta. Mac fans hated the change, and they let Apple know. Apple put the tiny logo back in its rightful place in time for the inaugural OS X 10.0 release in March 2001.


Mac OS X (including Public Beta) sported a white pinstripe theme with translucent-looking jelly bean buttons until Mac OS X Panther in 2003, when OS X Finder windows gained a brushed metal appearance. Mac OS X later began sporting a gray gradient window appearance in Leopard (2007), which persists in Snow Leopard today.


Mac OS X Public Beta only ran on PowerPC processors, which all contemporary Macs used at the time. These days, Snow Leopard only runs on Intel-based Macs. The last version of OS X to support PowerPC chips was Leopard, released in 2007.


OS X Public Beta included Sherlock, a much-hyped search tool that Apple had introduced as part of Mac OS 8.5 in 1997. In OS X's Public Beta, Sherlock not only let users do advanced searches through their own files, but searches for Websites, people, products, news, and more. Apple quietly killed Sherlock in favor of Spotlight, a more powerful system-wide search feature that first shipped with Tiger. Spotlight remains a key feature of Snow Leopard today.


The Finder in Mac OS X Public Beta was slow, rudimentary, and buggy--as was to be expected with veta software. While it supported icon view, list view, and column view, it lacked the left hand customizable list of icons called the "Sidebar" that Apple introduced in 10.3 Panther. It also lacked an integrated search box and the ability to show or hide the permanent location icons (home, favorites, apps, and so on) at will.


Originally published on Macworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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