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Customer Review

253 of 288 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bargain for the price and an OS for the future, August 28, 2009
This review is from: Mac OS X version 10.6.3 Snow Leopard (Mac computer with an Intel processor required) (Software)
The most remarkable thing about Snow Leopard is simply that it can be installed on a Mac running Tiger. You do not need to pay the money to buy the boxed set to upgrade if you never upgraded to Leopard. This means that you can upgrade a Tiger computer to Leopard using this disk. It is up to the user to determine if they have an ethical problem with that; Apple certainly knew that this was possible when they released the software: they understand and use DRM effectively and always have. The fact it is missing here tells me that they are primarily concerned with getting Snow Leopard unto as many computers as possible as fast as possible. I am sure part of that is the desire to have Snow Leopard outperform Windows 7 which debuts in October.

So what do you get with Snow Leopard? The answer is largely performance boosts, although many of those are not really applicable (yet) since few (virtually none) third party applications use the performance gains offered by Snow Leopard. Similar to Windows 7s ability to load share between CPU and GPU, many of the changes in Snow Leopard will take several years for developers to really start to use and write programs for.

Relying on 64-bit architecture through the entire OS, Snow Leopard is essentially an upgrade for the future: as developers write programs that take advantage of the new, higher ceiling, end users like you and I will benefit. For now, most of the performance increases are only applicable to Apple's own software. However, that's not to say these aren't nice or useful, and in some cases very impressive:

1) Opening large photos is faster in preview mode

2) Quicktime uses significantly less CPU on all Macs regardless of generation. Older Macs benefit the most with as much as 40% performance gains.

3) Time Machine backups take about 20% less time

4) Snow Leopard itself installs faster than Leopard

5) Boot times are faster with Snow Leopard by 5-10%; Shut down times are slightly faster as well.

6) File compression is also faster by 10-15%

(These are somewhat simplified. If you want the exact numbers you can find them online: Google "Snow Leopard Performance")

Of all of these, the performance increases afforded to older first generation Macbooks are the most significant. Breathing new life into older hardware isn't easy, especially not significant improvements. Snow Leopard manages to do just that and make even slower 1.6ghz MacBooks that much more useful.

Installation itself is a SNAP (did I mention it takes less time than Leopard?). I've already upgraded a MacBook and MacBook Pro, and installation was simple, fast, and easy. I plan to install Snow Leopard on another older Macbook later in the week and will upgrade this review once I have.

The few new visual tweaks are nice, but not the reason to upgrade. Better stacks is useful, as is the quickness of Finder, but overall I don't find myself blown away by the upgrade. This isn't an entirely new OS with a fantastic array of improvements, aside from the welcome and useful performance increases. That said, if you are a power user or just observant, you WILL NOTICE the speed increase, especially in Finder. I used to prefer Google Desktop search on PCs to Finder, but this upgrade has swayed me to prefer Finder.

*****UPDATE September 2nd 2009*****

A few other changes of minor importance but sometimes great usefulness:

1) Air Port now shows all available wireless networks and their relative signal strength, something Windows has done going back to XP, but that for some strange reason has been absent from OSX 10.X until now. Now when you turn on the Air Port you get a drop down to select which wireless signal you want as well as signal strength.

2) The date has been added to the desktop. This isn't that amazing but it is useful.

3) I am LOVING the way stacks work now. They're so much more intuitive to use and navigate, especially the ability to brows through directories directly from the stack itself.

4) Trash has the ability to restore a file to it's original location right from the trash. This is a feature common to Windows that has been very strangely absent from Mac OS. It's nice to see them catch this omission and correct it, but very odd it took this long to do it.

A MAJOR complaint:

1) Seriously, no support for CS3? Why Apple, why? I don't have the grand to drop on the newest version of CS. This is very, very frustrating, and makes me wish I could take back a star and downgrade this to a 4-star review. CS3 is still so widely used that I'm amazed Apple decided not to offer support for it. If you want to continue to receive support for CS3 or don't have the money to upgrade to CS4, this could be a big deal and even a reason not to upgrade.

A Minor complaint:

1) One of my time machine back-ups for a co-workers Mac was seemingly corrupted by the upgrade. Fortunately they didn't have any old data they needed from that backup so I just made a new one with Snow Leopard that mounts just fine, but this is something to be aware of. If you have a critical time machine backup that you cannot afford to lose, I'd suggest making a backup of the entire drive (clone it) using SuperDuper! or something like it.

*****End of update*****

Snow Leopard will grow in usefulness as time passes. As I said earlier, once third party applications start to be written to take advantage of advancements in the OS, the performance overhead will become more and more useful. Expect to wait 6-12 months for that to happen, but in the mean time at least you're enjoying speedier OS performance for an very inexpensive price!
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Showing 1-10 of 54 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 28, 2009 7:14:31 AM PDT
Steve says:
While this works, it is a direct violation of the license agreement.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 28, 2009 7:39:13 AM PDT
I agree, you shouldn't be telling people that they can upgrade straight from Tiger, it's actually forbidden by the licensing agreement and will eventually ruin it for the rest of us because Apple will have to make up the money somehow. If you have Tiger and you skip past Leopard you're essentially getting Leopard + Snow Leopard for $29. Increasing the cost of the next OS upgrade to make up for this issue could be how Apple decides to handle this. Buy the box set for $159, it's still cheaper than the deluxe editions of Microsoft Vista or Windows 7 and you get 6 great apps with it.

And best of all, you help insure Apple has an incentive NOT to stick horrible DRM like Windows Genuine Advantage on their discs and they can charge low low prices like they are for Snow Leopard, to those of us who did upgrade properly.

Posted on Aug 28, 2009 7:57:10 AM PDT
JL says:
I don't understand how you installed on your powerbook, as I don't think there's any powerbook with an intel processor.

Posted on Aug 28, 2009 9:54:11 AM PDT
Jay Young says:
This information was published in Walter Mossberg's Wall Street Journal Article today. In fact, he directly states that Tiger users should forgo the boxed set and "save the $140" by buying this upgrade. I guess he didn't bother reviewing the license agreement either.

Apple should better protect their revenue (and their honest customers). The fact that this is even possible is a mistake.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 28, 2009 10:15:23 AM PDT
Dave says:
It may be in violation of the EULA, but if you are legitimately concerned with apple losing money from this rest assured it's not a huge concern of theirs. I love OS X to death but honestly the fact that they charge (usually a lot more than 29 bucks) for their annual update kind of gripes me. Windows service packs are free. Apple has never been very concerned with OS X licensing issues and never to my memory have ever used any sort of keys or registry codes. They don't care because it's money they shouldn't be making anyways and they are getting away with it. I hate windows with a passion but at least I don't have to buy it again every year if I want to keep it up to date. Take what apple gives you, because they're going to take everything they can from you.

Posted on Aug 28, 2009 10:40:29 AM PDT
Jason says:
Apple definitely knew what they were doing when it comes to pricing and lack of license enforcement. They want to get Snow Leopard on as many computers as possible.

Posted on Aug 28, 2009 10:48:36 AM PDT
Mike H says:
I'm having a hard time taking this "review" seriously. First, the majority of it simply regurgitates Apple's marketing bullet points. We can read those on Apple's website, or even right here on Amazon's product page. I want to hear details about people's actual experiences - what really worked and what didn't work? What gave you some trouble and what pleasant surprises weren't mentioned in Apple's materials? As it is, there's nothing here that hasn't been discussed at length on Apple's site, in the press, and at the many Apple rumor websites.

Second, and more importantly, how am I supposed to believe a reviewer claiming that he installed Snow Leopard on a PowerBook? That claim is guaranteed to be 100% false, as Snow Leopard only supports Intel Macs. All PowerBooks are PowerPC.

I suspect our reviewer sloppily put together a list of features along with a few paragraphs suggesting he'd maybe seen them in action, hoping to get the coveted first review position at Amazon. I'm not buying it.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 28, 2009 11:29:46 AM PDT
Mike H:

Sorry you don't like my review. However, you are off base that I've not actually purchased Snow Leopard of installed it. I have. I own 5 macs across various eras and misspoke when I said I put it on a powerbook; it was a macbook. I bought a 5-pack of family licenses for home use as well as 7 single upgrades for the macs we use at the non-profit I work for. I've installed it on 2 computers so far and will have all of them upgraded by the middle of next week. I summarized some of what is in the extensive 4 pages of information provided by Amazon, as well as the other articles I've read online. Must people don't have the time or don't want to read all of the technical data, and providing them with some detail of what the upgrade gives them is fair and useful to non-tech heads. Sumarization is what reviews are about; that's why they don't read like product manuals.

I'll be upgrading and adding to the review as I use the OS. Sorry I don't have insightful comments (in your opinion) but that is no reason to basically insinuate that I am a liar. You are welcome to like or dislike any review including mine, but please don't act like I have dishonest intentions.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 28, 2009 11:30:40 AM PDT

I agree completely. They could easily have disabled upgrading from Tiger if that's what they wanted to do; they know how to use DRM very well (i-tunes, etc.)

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 28, 2009 11:36:33 AM PDT
E. Thomas Erickson:

You might want to send a letter to the Wall Street Journal and tell them the same thing, as well as LifeHacker and Gizmodo. This is being covered by major news outlets, I hardly think my review is taking away from Apple, who obviously has allowed this to occur. They are not new to DRM or using it effectively. They purposely left this backdoor open.
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