I got my copy of Apple’s newest Incarnation of Mac OS X yesterday, impressively shipped to me by Apple for free via FedEx Priority Overnight. I haven’t put it through a thorough workout quite yet, but first impressions are very important for any new OS, and Snow Leopard has so far impressed me.
The install was as simple as ever, essentially just clicking install and accepting the ToS. It took about 40 minutes to complete on my iMac, reboots itself when it’s done, and that’s all there is to it. The absolute first thing I noticed once it rebooted was a speed boost. Booting up, opening programs, the Finder, Spotlight search, and just about every other major aspect of the operating system is noticeably faster. I didn’t pay close attention to exactly how much disk space I had used before the install, but it freed up at least 5 gigs of space from Apple cutting some of the fat out of the OS. Just about all of the changes between Leopard (10.5) and Snow Leopard (10.6) are under the hood, but very next thing I noticed was what is more or less the only visual tweak: Stacks. The the grid that the stacks on your dock appear in got a visual overhaul and, at least in my opinion, look a lot nicer. I am so far very impressed with what I’ve seen, even though most of the major changes are in the background and won’t necessarily be noticed by the casual user.
As with any major update to any major operating system ever, third party programs written for prior versions of the OS are bound to have issues. Snow Leopard is in no way immune to this. Apple has a handy short list of known issues for some major applications, but as I don’t use any of specific versions listed on that site, I didn’t run in to any of those known issues. Instead, I noticed immediately that my awesomely useful iStat Menus were gone, but iSlayer already has a compatable v2.0 in the works that they say will be available soon. I also immediately noticed that the non-standard buttons on my Microsoft Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer 2.0 have stopped working. I’ve managed to get one of the buttons working again, but I’ll have to wait until Microsoft decides to release an update, which will supposedly be “on or before 10/2/2009“. Other than those two issues, I’ve yet to notice any other incompatibilities.
Unless you have a vital use for the programs that Apple lists as not working, I highly recommend upgrading to Snow Leopard. There are no major user interface changes, so the learning curve for users upgrading from Leopard is exactly zero and the speed boost is well worth the $29 to upgrade.