Snow Leopard: Hands On

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Before I even get started with this, let me just that this hands on review will not rival John Siracusa’s in depth analysis of the latest flavour of Mac OS X. If you need that much detail, please go ahead and read his article here.

It’s no secret that most of the Fat Dads are Mac users, some from days of old and some are recent switchers. For anyone who is keeping count, we’re up to 18 switchers so far, including one family who bought 3, then equipped the office with 6 more. But before you start calling us Fan Boys, we’ve all been long times Windows users, most of us since the DOS and 3.1 days so we have a pretty good idea of what else is out there. For me the tipping point was the first slick white MacBook to run an Intel Core Duo chip. That thing had more computing power in a smaller case then anything out there and it wasn’t running Vista, the fact that I could in fact run XP in VMWare was a little insurance policy for me. The more that Vista continued to suck in monumental levels the more the other dads jumped on board the Apple cart.

I’ll also admit that I got on board with an already pretty stable and feature rich version of Mac OS X in Tiger’s 10.4 and did not have to suffer the same troubles and  woes that the Panther and Jaguar users did. And It should be no surprise to anyone picking up a brand new unibody MacBook Pro that their computer is running an incredibly well refined operating system that has been 10 years in the making. But what does it mean for the rest of us that have upgraded every couple of years. Is Snow Leopard really worth the $29USD ($35CAD) outlay or is it just a service pack Snow Job as Leo Laporte put it. Well the short answer is Yes, for both questions.

The Price is Right!

Apple went in another direction completely with the release of Snow Leopard,  instead of charging $129 as they have in the past for a full blown operating system, they decided to drastically scale back the price to $29 USD. This is mainly because this release was to include “No New Features” as Steve Jobs put it at the WWDC Keynote of ’08. Indeed, Snow Leopard pretty much offers the same feature set as 10.5 Leopard did with a few under the hood changes. The fact that most people won’t even notice these changes doesn’t mean that they are not monumental. More on this in a  few lines. The point is that for the price of a few Lattées your old MacBook or iMac will run faster than it already does and will be more stable and more responsive. In my mind this is a no-brainer and an upgrade everyone should indulge in.

Service Pack or Snow Job?

The big issue that tech folk like Leo Laporte and Gina Tripanni are having with  Snow Leopard is that this should simply have been a 10.5.9 release and not a full blown OS X release. The truth is that releasing it as a service would have confused more people and probably caused more problems that simply saying: OK the new OS is Intel only, the ride stops here for every else. In programing terms this is a clean break and you can only do this by changing the version number from 10.5.8 to 10.6. You see they have finally set the older PPC chip loose, this means that 10.5 Leopard is the end of the line for G5, and G4 users and to be quite honest this is fine for me and probably most Apple users. Even if my MacBook is a first generation Intel book and runs perfectly fine I can’t wait to upgrade to a newer machine with better graphics and a 64bit chip. Being a web developer, an amateur photographer and only just recently a podcaster, I have my own unique reasons for wanting the latest shiny.  However lugging around a bunch of legacy code for a processor I will never use is rather silly. By cutting the PPC support out of Snow Leopard, Apple can finally do some pretty amazing stuff like 64 bit support, pimp out the Dock with Exposé, revamp the finder so it sucketh less and throw in a nice new Quicktime that takes some of the ease of using Photobooth mixes it in with some of the editing power of iMovie and finally gives of us something really useful for recording intros and screen demos. Now the ProTools users and professionals will hem and haw that none of their apps take advantage of 64bit or that Snow Leopards breaks some of their favourite old tools. For these guys I definitely recommend holding off, but for those who work on the cutting edge of technology or the rest of us who just want the “new faster and better”, Snow Leopard is a home run.

I now open the floor for the other Fat Dads to reply with their own assessment,  so look back soon to read their point of view.  As usual your comments and thoughts are always welcome. We have recently switched our commenting over to Disqus and would appreciate some feedback on that too if you’d like to include a simple line about the experience.

Also, if this article was enough info for you to buy Snow Leopard right now, please click here to get it form and help keep our kids in diapers. Apple Mac OS X version 10.6 Snow Leopard


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