Mac OS X 10.2 - Jaguar
UNIX just works, many, many people know it, and write software for it, and have been for decades. It has entrenched markets, and very loyal users and programmers, and a whole lot of code. It succeeded because it is cheap: but success is success. People will borrow from UNIX, and people will bet on UNIX. Many of them would not have bet on Mac, without the UNIX foundation. This is significant; Apple can break into new markets because they are a UNIX, and they can drive technologies in ways they couldnít before. It wasn't that what they did before wasn't as good (in some ways it was better, in other it was worse), but the biggest issue is not technical merit but marketing perception. Apple had proven unable to generate as much momentum on their own, so at least they can ride on the snowball that is UNIX. UNIX means opportunities for Macs and the Mac market that it wouldn't otherwise have. This alone makes OSX such a huge leap forward over OS 9 that it is not funny.
While there are things that drive me nuts (negatively) about OS X, even those things that make me less productive (the Dock), often helps some other people and others even like. So I can't call them complete losses, at worst they just aren't quite as good for me. And I'm the only user that counts, right?
I like many of the new features. I really like the openness and trying to play well with others and make standards. I really like that Iím seeing continual evolution and progress: Apple is challenging themselves to be better. I love that they are extending what an operating system does, and offering better services (like calendar and synching). Apple could be more open in some areas (they do the closed API thing too much), but they are also more open in many other ways than they used to be. Most of all, they are choosing which standards to follow wisely and following through with those decisions much quicker (can you say LDAP, ZeroConf, XML, and so on)?
There's a better atmosphere in the organization (more or less). And while their much more pragmatic (and Microsoftian attitude) of ìship it now, fix it laterî sometimes grates (and effects quality), it is probably better than the old, ìHang on to it until it is perfect, and irrelevantî attitude of the old Apple. But all the other little stuff pales in comparison to the new markets stuff; markets and market perceptions matter more than technology, more than good interface, more than anything. If you are a healthy market, they will come. Things are healthier. This is good. Add that to a few changes in attitude and you have some serious wins.
So while I do use OS X, and I do think it is the best UNIX ever, just don't tell me that it is as good as the classic MacOS at stuff that MacOS did better. It isn't. And if NeXTies hadn't been so fucking igno-arrogant and unwilling to listen to the way things used to work, they could have made the transition a lot smoother for everyone.