Worth Your Time & Money

My last post was about Windows 7.  This one is about Snow Leopard (release 10.6 of Apple’s OSX).  Whereas Windows 7 has lots of flash and sizzle, and is in-your-face different than its predecessor, Snow Leopard is all about subtle changes.

Here’s a list of the good things I noticed about Snow Leopard:

  • Speed baby!  After you do the upgrade you will notice things working noticeably faster.  Particularly shut-down, start-up, and app-launch time.  Also, finder has been rewritten and is much fast at navigating your file structures.  I personally did not notice an up-tick in reliability and stability but Apple’s marketing literature specifically calls this out.  Regardless, I think it’s fantastic that Apple would focus on speed, reliability, and stability over new feature bloat and glitz.
  • Improved Spotlight – spotlight searches work faster, and return better results.  Note that I still think there is room for improvement, but I’d say spotlight is 30% better.  As a result, I’m using it more.
  • Expose Improvements – when you activate expose the OS shows thumbnails of all opened documents.  The improvement with Snow Leopard is that they are arranged better, and the title of the document is clearly visible below the document thumbnail.
  • Dock / Expose Improvements – click and hold an app icon in your dock, and Expose is activated showing only the files related to the app you’ve clicked.  Also, using the mouse you can select one of the thumbnails and then click the space bar to zoom in for a closer view.  Example, click and hold Word icon in dock, and expose shows thumbnails of all opened Word docs, very nice.
  • Safari Improvements – it’s faster, and incorporates new cover flow features for viewing favorite sites and site browsing history.  All very cool.
  • QuickTime Upgrade – I’m not a power-user Mac audio/visual guy, but the new version of QuickTime X does things that you had to pay for in the old OS versions (like file conversion).  What this does is make the standard off-the-shelf  Mac better and more powerful.
  • Installation Ease –worked perfectly, no issues at all.  Caveat – I don’t push the envelop in terms of lots of third party applications, especially older applications.  I have read some articles where reviewers complain that the path is not as seamless if you’re running old applications.

There’s also some nice under the cover improvements:

  • 64 Bit – the entire OS is now 64 bits meaning things go faster and more memory can be directly addressed,
  • Grand Central Dispatch – this is an abstraction layer that allows programmers to make use of new multicore processors as they program their applications. Essentially, the programming task of splitting a programs execution across multiple processors is simplified.  The result is programs run faster. Along with the 64 bit improvements mentioned above, I’ll bet this is another reason Apple got some of performance improvements in Snow Leopard.

So is the upgrade worth it for the approximately $30 upgrade fee?  Absolutely.  Do it.

I welcome your comments,
Mike Brannan