In Defense of Snow Leopard

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The internets are abuzz with a small uprising against Snow Leopard. Some pundits even argue it is simply a service pack. I disagree.
The most frequently cited evidence by critics is the lack of significant changes to the user interface. They aregue that because Snow Leopard doesn’t look much different from Leopard, it is somehow lacking. I think this position misses the point. Apple never intended to make Snow Leopard look significantly different from Leopard. Indeed, Apple posted a slide at WWDC that Snow Leopard had “0 New Features”, which was received with applause by the audience.


Of course there are a lot of new features in Snow Leopard, but this sentiment is understandable. How many times have you received an operating system or application upgrade and said to yourself, “Gee, rather than adding three new broken features, I wish they had made the old version work better, faster, and smaller.” The thing is, Apple called our bluff. They did it.
It is like bringing your car to the shop where the mechanic upgrades your engine, drops in a new transmission and replaces the windshield wipers. You then pick up your car and say, “Hey, you just replaced the wipers. What good are you?”
Putting aside the fact Snow Leopard does so much work under the hood, it also adds quite a few significant interface improvements to Leopard. There is a lot more here than new wiper blades. The new services menu is much more useful to me than anything Leopard brought to the table. The dock Expose’ changes are also welcome. Indeed, I like all of the user interface changes. Some of my favorites are the little ones like easy linking in e-mail (command K), the speedy Finder, a sensible naming protocol for screenshots, and easy sound source control (option click the menubar sound icon). I’m sure I’ll discover more in the coming weeks.
While prior cats may have given us a new paint job or leather seats, Snow Leopard is all about horsepower. In many ways, it may be the most important OS X upgrade yet as it enables the Mac to seamlessly transition to the hyper-speed world of 64 bits and multi-core processors. To top it off, using the family pack licensing, I was able to upgrade every Mac in my house for $10 a machine. In short, I’m a fan of Snow Leopard.

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Snow Leopard is Still A Cub


AppleInsider ran an article explaining Snow Leopard still needs a bit of work under the hood.
Although there’s been some evidence to suggest Snow Leopard could hit the market several months ahead of expectations, new information reveals that Apple remains heavily engaged in building out some of the features first previewed back in June.

There were some rumors that it could release as early as January 2009 but I always considered that unrealistic. When it comes to OS software, I’ll take quality over speed every day.

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Snow Leopard and Eating Crow

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Some famous errors..

“This should be no problem .. we won’t need any reinforcements .. where are my medals?”
– George Armstrong Custer
“A little sip wont kill me.”
– Socrates
“I think it would be really odd for them[Apple] to release a new OS without having some sexy new feature to brag about.”

Well, nobody is perfect. So just a few days ago I wrote how certain I was that Apple wouldn’t update Leopard without adding some new features to tempt consumers. Now Apple announces that is exactly what they plan on doing. (To all the readers who emailed me today about me getting this wrong … thanks a lot – smirk.) I am okay with that. All geeks are. We really get excited about things like processor speed and system efficiency. I still think Apple is going to have its work cut out for it though. The non-geek Mac users (and there are quite a few of those) are going to wonder why they should be shelling out for something that doesn’t have any fancy bells or whistles.
Think about it. An upgrade just for geeks. You could chart it against something like “people with iStat menus installed” or “people who have opened terminal intentionally” and you would know exactly who will be bringing the Snow Leopard home.*
Well even though I am admitting I was wrong on this one, I still think Apple marketing will spin this as more than simply “security and stability” fixes. Indeed, the campaign has already begun. According to Apple, Snow Leopard is already listed as a “Quantum Leap” with built in Exchange support, 64 bit bells and whistles and a brand new Quicktime — and that is just after the first day. By a year from now the list will grow. I’m still pining away for a ZFS file system.
If the world has learned anything from Vista, it is that we don’t need our operating system to cure all sins, it just needs to be rock solid for our applications. I “get” where Apple is coming from on this and am looking forward to see what happens next.
* Another question in my mind is “will Snow Leopard be 10.6?” I didn’t read about anyone at Apple calling Snow Leopard 10.6. The Apple website just refers to it as the “next major version” but never calls it 10.6. Maybe they will have a reduced price and give it a different number … 10.5.?. That would be an interesting turn of events indeed.

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