Friday the interns installed Snow Leopard on top of OSX 10.5 on the Mac mini. Yesterday they spent the day playing around with the various enhancements and new features of the upgrade. If you are undecided about whether to install this upgrade, read the rest of today's post, but the short of it is, if you want a faster Mac, this upgrade is the best $30 you could spend. However, if you have an older PowerPC-based Mac, this upgrade is not for you.
There is a lot of buzz about the fact that Snow Leopard (10.6) will install over Tiger (10.4) without first making Mac users upgrade to Leopard. This is true. For those who want to stiff Apple on a few bucks, they can do it without any "real" consequences. However, we believe that this is actually a very clever move on Apple's part to get everyone to FINALLY drop their older PowerPC Macs and buy a newer Intel-based machine :-) While Snow Leopard will install on top of Tiger, it will not install on PPC-based Macs. Our PPC G4 has been a workhorse for us since 2003. We are sad that 10.5.8 will be its last upgrade, but we'll keep it running until it fails (Apple released 10.5.8 as the final patch, which we have not yet installed). Ah, but we digress.
With Snow Leopard up and running, the first thing the interns noticed was the look of the QuickTime icon. Clicking on the icon, they were greeted with an obvious change in the behavior of the dock. The dock menu has a new layout and new functionalities.
We don't have any stats yet, but the launch of various apps feels much faster. Also somebody at Apple has been reading Edward Tufte's
books on information display. Dr. Tufte has been a strong advocate of maximizing pixel use by eliminating unnecessary borders and white spaces. The new QuickTime player now uses every pixels in its window for display. The menu bar and controls will appear when needed, but will otherwise disappear.
Apple's web browser, Safari, has also been upgraded with a bunch of new capabilities. Safari 4 now uses Google Suggest to anticipate your queries as you type. The feature is based on the popularity of the various search terms so it is constantly being updated. The feature we really like is the "Top Sites" view. This is a page which is an iconized collection of the favorites, allowing us to quickly jump to a page without having to scroll through a menu list. This feature is especially impressive on a large display.
There are LOTS of other features, enhancements, and refinements in Snow Leopard (Expose, MS Exchange support, Universal Access, scrollable stacks, etc...). All of these items will be covered in-depth by many of the dedicated Mac OSX sites on the Web. When we come upon something we think merits extra special mention, we'll highlight it for you. In any case, based on our FirstLook, Snow Leopard is definitely worth the $30 (or $25 via Amazon
) we paid!
BTW, if you are wondering whether the apps you use daily are Snow Leopard-friendly, check out this comprehensive compatibility list.[Permalink] - Snow Leopard FirstLook