Review roundup: Snow Leopard sports subtle improvements

Posted:
in macOS edited January 2014
Critics are praising Apple's latest OS X upgrade, Snow Leopard, as a bargain-priced improvement that will help users get better performance out of their Mac, though there are some problems.



In general, reviewers are very positive about Snow Leopard, calling it a welcome performance boost with strong under-the-hood improvements. But what's really captivated everyone is the price: at $29, critics see the inexpensive upgrade as a no-brainer for most Mac users.



The new 64-bit architecture, built-in support for Microsoft Exchange, and the ability to open Mac OS X files while running Windows via Boot Camp are all welcome additions highlighted by reviewers.



But in the end, it's all about the performance: Applications load faster, and the OS install frees up an average of 7 gigabytes on a user's hard drive from Leopard.



That's not to say all is perfect. There are reports of applications that do not work or are glitchy in Snow Leopard. Some of the more popular software that has reportedly had problems includes Microsoft Word, Photoshop CS3 (which will no longer be supported for Snow Leopard), Growl, and CyberDuck. But as with any OS upgrade, some older applications will need to be updated in order to fully work with the new system. As has happened in the past, most software will likely see updates in just a matter of weeks to increase compatibility and performance issues.



Here are some of the review highlights:



The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg:



Though Snow Leopard has few new key features visible to users and looks virtually identical to its predecessor, it's a recommended upgrade for existing Mac owners who want more speed and disk space.



"But I don't consider Snow Leopard a must-have upgrade for average consumers. It's more of a nice-to-have upgrade. If you're happy with Leopard, there's no reason to rush out and get Snow Leopard."



Installation went smoothly and freed up hard drive space, but not without a few minor problems with a screen saver that displays photos.



Safari 4 is especially faster on Web sites that use Javascript.



Three favorite new features: "Substitutions," an auto-correct program; automatic resetting of the time zone based on location; and the ability to record videos of on-screen actions via QuickTime.



While an improvement, Snow Leopard isn't a "typical Apple lust-provoking product," so it's priced accordingly.



The New York Times' David Pogue:



Apple's "sleek upgrade" is truly optimized. A MacBook Air starts up in 72 seconds with Snow Leopard, while Leopard took 100 seconds.



Installation was fast (15 minutes) and freed up 7 gigabytes as promised.



Minor tweaks: Menu bar can now show the date, not just the day of the week; menu of nearby wireless hot spots shows the signal strength for each; icons can now be 512 pixels square, "turning any desktop window into a light table for photos."



When plug-ins crash in Safari, it doesn't take down the whole browser -- "you just get an empty rectangle where they would have appeared."



Benefits for blind users: one new feature turns the trackpad into a "touchable map of the screen," and the computer speaks to the user as they touch each onscreen element.



Those who call Snow Leopard a "service pack" are uninformed.



"if you're already running Leopard, paying the $30 for Snow Leopard is a no-brainer. You'll feel the leap forward in speed polish, and you'll keep experiencing those 'oh, that's nice' moments for weeks to come."



USA Today's Edward C. Baig:



Though Snow Leopard brings "solid" improvements, the quality of its Leopard predecessor means there is no need "for the kind of major overhaul Microsoft will unleash with Windows 7."



"There's not much new in the sizzle department. Many feature enrichments are modest."



"Snow Leopard should delight Mac fans, especially those who use Exchange at work."



iMac installation took an hour and seven minutes. Received a notification that outdated Parallels Desktop software would not work.



Microsoft Exchange integration works well. "I could quickly find past e-mails by searching via the Mac's terrific Spotlight feature."



"Snow Leopard adds bite, especially for business. But as upgrades go, this one is relatively tame."



Chicago Sun-Times' Andy Ihnatko:



Snow Leopard is like a series of boring but essential house renovations. "These are the things that keep a house functional and livable, and ensure that it'll still be a fun place to live in twenty years' time."



"It seems as though Apple's OS engineers spent the past year rummaging through all of the drawers and closets in the office, looking for every idea that they've come up with over the past few years that they've never been able to get to."



Does Snow Leopard feel faster? "Hell, yeah." Complex applications would complete tasks before having a sip of Dr. Pepper, unlike in Leopard.



"Grand Central Dispatch" makes use of multi-core processors, while OpenCL allows the OS to designate some processes to the computer's GPU. Together, they are "features that will speed up every existing app to a certain degree."



Application "Services" menu is now beneficial, allowing users to create their own via Automator. "It only took me about five minutes to create a service that converts any selected text in any app to an audiobook in iTunes, ready to be copied onto my iPhone the next time I perform a sync."



Dock Expose is favorite new feature: "It's far more than a simple window exposer." Can drag files to specific open windows by holding over the icon in the dock.



"Just 29? To make your Mac this much faster? It's a gimme."



The Associated Press' Peter Svensson:



Snow Leopard not as big of an improvement as Windows 7.



"Part of the reason Snow Leopard can promise faster, better applications is that it's designed for Macs with Intel chips, which Apple started using in early 2006. It won't run on older Macs with the previous PowerPC family of chips. The launch of the new operating system is a hint to get a new computer."



"Snow Leopard's benefits will be most apparent down the road, while Windows 7 promises more of an immediate payoff."



The new OS is "unlikely" to provide most buyers a reason to get excited about Macs.



With minor bugs and installation problems inevitable, it's probably best to wait a month before making the upgrade.



Other reviews



Numerous other takes on Snow Leopard are available from Engadget, CNet, Gizmodo, MacWorld, PC Magazine, and Wired.



Snow Leopard will be available for purchase Friday. It costs $29 for the single user license and $49 for the five-license family pack. Also available are Mac OS X Server 10.6 Snow Leopard ($499) and two upgrade box sets: OS, iWork and iLife ($169) and the five-license family pack, iWork and iLife ($229).
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 169
    lafelafe Posts: 252member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    The Associated Press' Peter Svensson:



    Snow Leopard not as big of an improvement as Windows 7.




    Huh? Who ever said that was the point? Geez.
  • Reply 2 of 169
    crebcreb Posts: 276member
    Quote:

    with minor bugs and installation problems inevitable, it's probably best to wait a month before making the upgrade.



    ^^^ +1
  • Reply 3 of 169
    wow AP guy is a major microsoft fanboi.. geez
  • Reply 4 of 169
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,523member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jcw5002 View Post


    wow AP guy is a major microsoft fanboi.. geez



    As opposed to being a major Apple fanboi?



    Must everyone lavish praise on the Snow Leopard? That being said, can't wait for my $10 upgrade to get here for my 13" MacBook Pro.
  • Reply 5 of 169
    Not one of these reviewers knows a damn thing about the technical advances in 10.6. They should either hire an expert or defer to sites dedicated to knowing it's technical advances.
  • Reply 6 of 169
    floccusfloccus Posts: 138member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    "Snow Leopard's benefits will be most apparent dwon the road, while Windows 7 promises more of an immediate payoff."



    To make a fairer comparison, Snow Leopard is your healthy diet that means less problems when you get old, while Windows 7 is removing the stick that is Vista from your .... .



    I like how most reviewers seem disappointed with "lack" of features. Apparently eye candy is the only thing worth paying for in their eyes still. I for one am incredibly excited for Snow Leopard, 64bit processors have been around for years now, and now there's finally a mainstream OS (sorry linux) that will get programmers to code for it.
  • Reply 7 of 169
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,523member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post


    Not one of these reviewers knows a damn thing about the technical advances in 10.6. They should either hire an expert or defer to sites dedicated to knowing it's technical advances.



    To be fair, those reviews are targeting the general consumer who likely doesn't give a *&^% about underhood crap -- just look at them, they're all from newspapers. Their readers want to see immediate benefits (i.e. eye candy, new features, etc.).



    If you want a technical review, wait for Apple Insider and others.
  • Reply 8 of 169
    ronboronbo Posts: 669member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    The Associated Press' Peter Svensson:



    Snow Leopard not as big of an improvement as Windows 7.



    He may even be right, but that shouldn't be taken as much of a compliment to Windows. Vista was such a... special experience... that it would have to improve mightily to catch up even with Leopard. Which it hasn't. I've got a Vista running in Boot Camp for games, so it's not like I haven't used the OS. Man, what a horrible experience. When I go over to my brother's place to place Warhammer, I try and make sure it's after his kids are asleep. There's a lot of swearing that goes on when I use Vista (like that wonderful shock you get when Vista quits your game and restarts because it just loaded an update without asking you, and now it's time to restart. SOOOO nice when you're in the middle of a pitched battle. The Mac client is notttttt quite polished, but it's getting there).
  • Reply 9 of 169
    mactoidmactoid Posts: 112member
    [The Associated Press' Peter Svensson:



    The new OS is "unlikely" to provide most buyers a reason to get excited about Macs.



    [/QUOTE]



    Now, if we only had a reason to get "excited" about the Associated Press!!!!
  • Reply 10 of 169
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mazda 3s View Post


    As opposed to being a major Apple fanboi?



    Must everyone lavish praise on the Snow Leopard? That being said, can't wait for my $10 upgrade to get here for my 13" MacBook Pro.



    Not a question of praising, but what the hell was that comment about windows for? A guy makes a review of leopard just to say that isn't as much worthy of an upgrade as windows 7 wrt Vista?!? Can't people just criticize without appearing to be a shill for the competition? Where is subtlety gone?





    But about w7, perhaps the guy changes his mind when he reckons that the upgrade of it will cost ten times that of leopard.
  • Reply 11 of 169
    .mac.mac Posts: 44member
    cant wait any more !! but sadly my order page shows ships by Aug 28th
  • Reply 12 of 169
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,523member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ronbo View Post


    He may even be right, but that shouldn't be taken as much of a compliment to Windows. Vista was such a... special experience... that it would have to improve mightily to catch up even with Leopard. Which it hasn't. I've got a Vista running in Boot Camp for games, so it's not like I haven't used the OS. Man, what a horrible experience. When I go over to my brother's place to place Warhammer, I try and make sure it's after his kids are asleep. There's a lot of swearing that goes on when I use Vista (like that wonderful shock you get when Vista quits your game and restarts because it just loaded an update without asking you, and now it's time to restart. SOOOO nice when you're in the middle of a pitched battle. The Mac client is notttttt quite polished, but it's getting there).





    In fact, there are four options (this is from Windows 7, but Vista is similar) for installing Windows Updates:



    Install updates automatically

    Download updates but let me choose when to install them

    Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them

    Never check for updates



    Sounds like user error to me
  • Reply 13 of 169
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mazda 3s View Post


    To be fair, those reviews are targeting the general consumer who likely doesn't give a *&^% about underhood crap -- just look at them, they're all from newspapers. Their readers want to see immediate benefits (i.e. eye candy, new features, etc.).



    If you want a technical review, wait for Apple Insider and others.



    Don't patronize me. Some of us actually got paid to improve it over the years when they worked there.



    The point I'm making is they are ignorantly down playing the advances of the OS after a brief experience with it and applications that actually leverage it's changes.



    So far I've seen them discuss Safari and Parallels. The Chicago Sun Times was especially ignorant by attempting to appear as technically competent when referencing GC and OpenCL.



    Hell, Khronos.org is just getting caught up with OpenGL 3.2 and OpenCL samples to leverage for your projects.



    However, when MSOffice shows up as Cocoa they'll somehow think Microsoft jumped leaps and bounds ahead from the past, without citing the fact they are just leveraging Cocoa.
  • Reply 14 of 169
    rnp1rnp1 Posts: 175member
    [QUOTE= I for one am incredibly excited for Snow Leopard,.[/QUOTE]



    As one of Apples biggest fanboys since I got my 128k in the 1st qtr 0f '84, I will and have kept upgrading from System 1.0. All my old Macs (except for a couple of bent, white laptop logic boards) still run! I'm loadin' SL 10.6 in at noon tomorrow.

    If you're really smart and know Apple well, you'll be able to get back to where you were in an hour w/ TimeMachine. So who cares if 10.6 has some issues here or there! I'll check 'm out. Let 'm come.

    Upgrade now. Hesitation is futile!



    Having said that, here is a message i got from Parallels today:



    "Snow Leopard is still in experimental mode (as is Windows 7!),

    which means we need to smooth out some kinks first"

    Sounds like an xWindows engineer made that quote!



    Good luck if you don't use TimeMachine!

    But upgrade because it's cool!

    PS-my iPhone still runs from day of launch and if the Tablet has Steve's hands on it, I'll get that ASAP

    (hopefully it will run Kindle, one of my favorite Apps!)
  • Reply 15 of 169
    Read the AP thingy. quite elaborate, but shilling for the competition, without any context whatsoever. You are reading all about SL when suddenly,
    Quote:

    So how does Snow Leopard compare to Windows 7? Snow Leopard's benefits will be most apparent down the road, while Windows 7 promises more of an immediate payoff.



    Wow! Amazing! Incredible! MS is da best! And why you ask? Because SL improvements are "under the hood", and worse!, SL won't run in PowerPCs, as if they cared! Most of the improvements of SL could only be noticeable in Intel chips, so why bother with PPCs at all? Why, because then you can make lines like these:



    Quote:

    Windows 7 combines a bigger revamping of the user interface of Microsoft's last effort, Vista, with a series of smaller under-the-hood changes. It even can work on many older PCs -- in fact, Windows 7 is supposed to run better on modest hardware than Vista did.



    Ah! Check mate Apple! Wegottchyou on da run!



    Quote:

    Apple's share of the U.S. personal-computer market nearly tripled from 2004 to 2008 but hasn't gone up significantly since then, and now stands at around 8.5 percent, according to IDC. So Apple could use a fresh reason for buyers to get excited about Macs.



    I wouldn't mind a lower price of macs at all
  • Reply 16 of 169
    irelandireland Posts: 17,299member
    My Air is rev B. SSD, it starts in exactly 29 seconds every time on Snow Leopard.
  • Reply 17 of 169
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,523member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post


    Don't patronize me. Some of us actually got paid to improve it over the years when they worked there.



    The point I'm making is they are ignorantly down playing the advances of the OS after a brief experience with it and applications that actually leverage it's changes.



    So far I've seen them discuss Safari and Parallels. The Chicago Sun Times was especially ignorant by attempting to appear as technically competent when referencing GC and OpenCL.



    Hell, Khronos.org is just getting caught up with OpenGL 3.2 and OpenCL samples to leverage for your projects.



    However, when MSOffice shows up as Cocoa they'll somehow think Microsoft jumped leaps and bounds ahead from the past, without citing the fact they are just leveraging Cocoa.



    My point is, know your source.



    I wouldn't go to the Wall Street Journal for a review on the new Mercedes E550. I would go to Autoblog or Car and Driver for that.



    I just don't understand why people are getting all hot and bothered about what some newspapers are saying about Snow Leopard, no matter how prominent they are. If I want Mac-related info, I go to Apple Insider, TUAW or Mac Rumors.
  • Reply 18 of 169
    crebcreb Posts: 276member
    Here's an A-hole critic who really takes the cake! http://www.pcworld.com/article/17078...windows_7.html
  • Reply 19 of 169
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,523member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CREB View Post


    Here's an A-hole critic who really takes the cake! http://www.pcworld.com/article/17078...windows_7.html



    What do you expect? It's from PC Magazine. Do you really expect that Apple Insider would sing the praises of Windows 7 if they were reviewing it?
  • Reply 20 of 169
    Is every name from the big cat family now used up?
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