As has been widely reported already, Mac OS X was released today, to mixed reactions. On the whole, I'm happy with it, as it gives the unix geek in me a lot of flexibility that the Classic Mac OS just can't offer. However, there are still a lot of interface annoyances that make me shake my head and wonder, and I've had a few strange experiences that have made me blink twice. If you're curious about my experiences, click on the link below. Be warned, though, it's long and wordy.
The Dock has become significantly more useful than it was in the Public Beta. Through editing a config file, it's possible to put the Dock on any edge of the screen, which is very nice, and was the first thing I did when I installed OS X this morning. Through a defaults command it's possible to make the active application arrow display in blue and hidden application icons display faded, but I really don't know why Apple didn't add a way to insert a way to enable these through the interface. The ability to have menus pop out of folders placed in the Dock is very useful, but for some reason, they only allow you to go five levels deep. This strikes me as an unnecessary restriction on a very useful feature. Unfortunately, I can't drag something onto a folder, have it open the menu, and then drag an item into the hierarchy. Also, it's now possible to click at the absolute edge of the screen and hit the icon -- unfortunately, when dragging an item, it still has to be dragged directly on to the icon, which is a horrible decision.
The Finder has been giving me hell, and is probably the thing I like the least about the whole system. The interface really isn't that bad, but the quality of the application isn't up to par. In the first couple of hours I had the finder crash twice (though I didn't have to reboot, of course). It's slow, and stops responding much more frequently than most of the other apps. Also, their method of abbreviation long file names is now even more annoying than it was before. In Public Beta they truncated the end of the file name, but now they're replacing the middle of the filename with ...'s. I would have liked to have seen an "up" option for the toolbar in addition to a back option, because the back option doesn't go up in the directory hierarchy, just back to where you were before. There are no Contextual Menu Modules, which is a big loss, and they left Get Info out the contextual menu which is there.
One of the more subtle, and yet more useful features they added to the finder was the ability to drop a folder onto the toolbar. This little feature singlehandedly made the one window finder much more useful. Just put a folder on your toolbar, go somewhere else, find the files you want to move, and drag them up to the folder on the toolbar and drop away. It could use a little refinement, however. When you want to remove the folder from your toolbar, you drag it off, and unlike the dock and system preferences, when you let go, there's no poof -- it just vanishes. Inconsistant interfaces are never good. The next issue is that you can't toss files up there to move, because when you try to drag them off like you think it should work, they just vanish without a trace. This section of the toolbar effectively acts like the document section of the dock, but it's closer and more central to the file management you're doing. If instead of saving a folder you want to copy things to you want to save files you want to copy somewhere, you'll still have to use the desktop or a second finder window for that.
The Apple Menu has of course returned, but there are a number of things which still could be tweaked. If I click my mouse in the upper left corner of the screen, it should open the menu. Instead, I have to move my mouse about 10 pixels from the corner of the screen to get the menu to open. Second, because they apparently thought that having two icon menus next to each other in the menu bar wasn't aesthetically pleasing, it's now no longer possible to turn the application menu (the first menu after the apple menu) into an Icon. This is a very bad thing, because it means that as I change applications, my file menu moves around on me. Finally, I've got to wonder why they didn't make a sub menu off of the Apple Menu which would jump the user to each of the System Preference panels. That way it'd be possible to jump directly to my Network settings, for example, and then I'd be in my System Preferences and could hit "show all" to get to the next item I wanted to do.
The System Preferences have a number of annoying deficiencies, which I'll just rattle off. The "General" panel has options for "Appearance" (Graphite or Blue), "Highlight color", and "Scroll bar behavrior." These aren't "General" things, these are all "Look and Feel" things. Rename the damn panel. Also, add in an option for double ended scroll arrows, dagnabbit. In Startup Disk, there's no Restart button, which is a mixed blessing. The options for setting the Date and Time formats are found in the "International" panel instead of the Date & Time panel. I know there's a reason for it, but it's not very clear to a new user where they should go to set the format for their clock. And while they're at it, they should mention that there's apparently no way to change the formatting or the behavior of the menu bar clock. While all of those are mainly interface/consistency points, the biggest loss of functionality probably comes with the Energy Saver control panel, where it's no longer possible to specify different behaviors depending on if the computer is plugged in or running on battery power, etc.
As far as errors and crashes go, the core system has been pretty stable, but I've had some bad experiences with little pieces. The finder has crashed many times. One time when Classic was launching, I decided to change the color depth from millions to thousands in the middle of the operation, which resulted in Classic's display super freaking out in a thankfully unreproducable way. After trying to see if the installed apache had php enabled (/System/Library/PHP exists), the System Preferences started crashing when I launched it. A reboot fixed it. When I tried to install the Developer Tools, it told me "An error occured during the installation. Please try installing again" after it finished. I installed again and it worked. Other than that, nothing has really crashed, and I haven't had to reboot at all than to fix the problem with the System Preferences.
Finally, a few other interface annoyances. The Installer application is very nice, but when it gets to the select disk phase, it only shows me total space on each drive. There's no way to see the more useful figure of free space on each drive at all. There are inconsistencies in the way dragging is handled. In normal finder operations, when I'm dragging a file, there are three possible cursor states. There's the plain cursor, to indicate that the file will be moved, the plus cursor to indicate that the file will be copied, and the arrow cursor to indicate that the drag will make an alias. However, when I drag a file to either the Dock or the Toolbar, it uses a plain arrow. This is inconsistant, leading the user to believe that the file will be moved into the Dock or Toolbar, which is not at all the case. The cursor should really turn into an arrow cursor when performing either of these operations. In all of the Classic Mac OS applications I use, I can hit command-d when a "save/don't save" dialogue pops up to select Don't Save, but apparently this isn't allowed in OS X, because I have yet to encounter a dialogue where this still works.
And finally, the implementation of a document-centric paradigm is still half-assed. If I have two finder windows open, I could have one of them be the very bottom window and the other be the very top, and there could be a lot of windows open in between. The drop shadows used on each window make it very clear which window is on top of which. When I close the top window, the shadows would lead me to believe that the next window down would gain focus -- but no! Instead, a random window I couldn't see suddenly pops forward. Blah, don't let me freely intermix windows at all if they don't behave that way. Also, command-tab still cycles through each Application instead of cycling through each window, making it impossible to get to minimized windows from the keyboard. They should add another mode to that feature to cycle through every open window -- command-option-tab or something, so as to offer a little more flexibility.
I really do like the OS, even if I have a lot to complain about. I just want to see all of the above issues addressed so that it will eventually turn into a highly tuned extension of my intention, allowing me to focus on what I want to do, instead of why the system is annoying me.