Panther Fast User Switching

p. David Every has some criticisms of Apple’s new Panther Operating system, that in many ways seem unfounded in an article at www.iGeek.com.

bq. One of the new features of Panther is better Multi-User support, and rapid user switching (while leaving other users logged in). While it is not a bad feature, I think it misses on a few levels. Now Apple did a decent job to be sure. It is quicker, it has reasonable security, and the transition animation between users (borrowed from a much older Mac product called Switcher, ala Keynote) is very clean and effective to convey what is happening. So as a feature on its own, it is pretty good. But I think it misses what many more users would want; especially myself.

p. I think that David has almost completely missed the point. In fact, I tend to think that Virtual Desktops are a result of poorly implemented window management on many systems. The Mac’s combination of the ability to Hide applications (as well as minimize their windows) combined with things like palettes being smart enough to disappear when their application is not in the foreground make window management enormously efficient, even when dealing with large numbers of apps/windows.

p. In addition, I think a VERY common scenario is multiple individuals sharing one computer. Like family members sharing a Mac. I also think that Apple has taken the right approach in centralizing user preferences within the user account (as in for email, or instant messaging) to enable many people to have their own slice of the computer. That combined with Fast User switching, now enable people to rapidly switch to their settings, while not disturibing the work of their spouse/family member. The “(extlink)iChat”:http://www.apple.com/ichat integration in particular, where iChat will log off when you switch strikes me as being particularly smooth.