Not a Snow Leopard Review

August 25th, 2009

You just knew that, as soon as Apple announced the actual shipping date for Snow Leopard, some media scribes would come out of the woodwork and deliver their reviews. Only the actual copies of the finished product have yet to reach anyone’s hands, except, perhaps, for a favored few journalists who have already been sent copies by Apple. Thus you wonder just what they are reporting on.

Well, after reading a few of the stories, it’s painfully obvious: They got ahold of a prerelease version, perhaps the one that is rumored to be the Golden Master, and they are providing their stories based on same. Unfortunately, you have to wonder where they got their copies. If they are authors or developers who were seeded by Apple directly, have they been released from their confidentiality agreements prematurely? It would seem unlikely, since the usual methodology is to prohibit such parties from talking about anything other than what’s already public knowledge until the product is actually shipping.

Now it may be that the copies of Snow Leopard in question all came from other sources, so the writers aren’t directly bound by any Apple NDA. Or perhaps I’m just being charitable about the whole thing. At this point, just a few days before millions of Mac users get their copies, perhaps Apple will cut them all some slack in order to get some additional advance publicity. Since we’re in the dog days of summer, and the only other story of note is whether Steve Jobs is really taking a hands-on approach to the rumored Apple tablet computer, any other publicity is good publicity.

In any case, you can be assured that, even though Apple has been pretty descriptive in its online information about Snow Leopard, some Mac sites will somehow get their facts wrong anyway.

I read, for example, a story claiming that, even though PowerPC based Macs couldn’t run Snow Leopard, they’d get all the features anyway. How so? In Leopard? Would Apple suddenly go back to the drawing boards and attempt to graft those 100 or more “enhancements” into 10.5 so people who can’t upgrade won’t lose out? Really?

If Apple could do that in the first place, why dump PowerPC support? Why indeed!

This is a story that surely doesn’t past the logic test, and I can only assume that the author of the piece in question, which shall remain unnamed in the hope it’ll soon be corrected, doesn’t understand what’s really going on or what Apple did to make Snow Leopard leaner and meaner.

You can take this to the bank: There will not be a plain Leopard Finder based on Apple’s Cocoa development environment. There won’t be expanded Exchange Server 2007 support, a faster installation process and a smaller operating system footprint. Apple is not in the business in taking features from new operating system and duplicating them in an old system. Much of the underpinnings of Snow Leopard have been reworked in order to provide many of those new features. Why would Apple charge for Snow Leopard and then give Leopard users the very same thing as a free maintenance update?

At the same time, I expect Apple will continue to deliver security and other critical fixes for Leopard until 10.7 arrives. It’s not at all certain there will be similar support for Tiger, though I expect there will be for a short while.

One thing you can count on: As the uptake to Snow Leopard expands, app developers will ditch regular Leopard support to take advantage of the new features. This is particularly true for software that exercises the limits of your Mac’s processor cores.

As far as PowerPC-based Macs are concerned, there will be a rapidly diminishing selection of new software. Where just building a Universal version presents no compromise, I suppose they’ll continue to appear. But Adobe set the bar here. The next Creative Suite will be all-Intel, and you can probably assume that future major upgrades to QuarkXPress will be as well.

Remember when the PowerPC took over in the mid-1990s? It took a few years for things to settle down and software compatible with older Macs to be phased out. Nowadays, you can expect that a trickle will become a flood almost overnight. Indeed, I’d be extremely surprised of the forthcoming Office 2010 for the Mac isn’t Intel-only. Microsoft may not tell you that now, but there’d be no point in doing otherwise a year or so from now. Do you disagree?

Now I’m not willing to talk about prerelease software either. Why should I look down on the process if I don’t follow my own advice? I will, however, suggest that Snow Leopard is not being rushed to market. There’s no real need to get it out a few weeks early, right? This does mean that, while a 10.6.1 is inevitable, it won’t come quite as quickly, because there will be fewer fires to put out.

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2 Responses to “Not a Snow Leopard Review”

  1. gopher says:

    One of my favorite of these discussions concerns whether or not Snow Leopard will be 64 bit on the first Mac Pros. This is an intriguing discussion, because some believe that the EFI itself is not 64 bit, even though the processor and the bus are. It remains to be seen how tightly integrated the bitness of the operating system is on the EFI itself.

  2. Jon says:

    Aint it the truth.

    For the past couple of weeks the most hysterical reviews/articles are those of the PC pundits (chief among them being ZDNet’s group of Windows-loving fudmeisters), who appear to be falling all over themselves to 1) equate Snow to a OS X version of a Windows service pac, 2) make comparisons to Windows that downplays Snow Leopard’s improvements, 3) complain about the price (???), and/or 4) expose the “truth” that numerous Snow Leopard features won’t work on many Macs just a couple of years old.

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