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Snow Leopard easier to swallow than just a “Service Pack”

sl-tongueI’m a recent Mac convert and loving every minute of it. Do I feel ashamed for ignoring the Windows-based units that are now collecting dust at home? A little bit, but thankfully the guilt is short-term.

I’ve been having a great time reading comments from Mac users about their experiences with Snow Leopard. It’s even more interesting to hear all the chatter about Apple’s first OS update 10.6.1, made available less than two weeks after releasing Snow Leopard. Some users have called the OS release “pointless” due to the lack of new features. Others, wanting to keep their OS up-to-date, have willingly embraced the update.

What’s in the update?

Apple suggests that users update to 10.6.1 because it offers “general operating system fixes that enhance the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac.” The update itself fixes a Mail issue, includes a more recent version of the Flash plug-in for Safari and provides device updates for modems, printers and DVD drives. For more details, see the full summary of 10.6.1 fixes from Apple.

Newbie says what?

I’m a glass-half-full guy and tend to focus more on positive benefits. Although some users have criticized this release as a knee-jerk reaction by Apple to offset product launch shortcomings, I personally think is sends a clear message that they take security seriously.

Generally speaking, it appears that a number of users are reporting improved performance and bug fixes after applying the update. The good news is that if you are running newer software it is unlikely that you will experience compatibility issues since most applications that work on Mac OS X 10.5 will also work in 10.6. It’s important to note that not every program has been tested and in some cases it’s up to the user to determine which applications still work. For example, Adobe decided to test Creative Suite 4 for compatibility on Snow Leopard without any mention of supporting CS3. What’s a CS3 user to do? Some are running CS3 on 10.6 without any issues; others are frustrated while teetering between waiting for a fix or upgrading to CS4.

When it comes to discussing hardware and software support under a new OS, I feel it’s all about shared liability – if the OS includes radical changes, some programs will not work or may require an update. If the developers do not test their software with the new platform or offer an alternative solution, they risk alienating loyal users.

It’s been at least a month since I’ve booted up a Windows machine at home and I am certain that there are countless updates, security patches, service packs and bug fixes are waiting for me. The decision to install the single point revision to SL seems easy compared to my previous life of daily Windows updates.

I’m also a marketing guy and understand Apple’s desire to release Snow Leopard early to meet customer demands. At some point you have to release what you have to the masses in order to address real-world application issues and improve the overall user experience.

The 10.6.1 update may not address every issue that has been logged, but it’s a quick step in the right direction. If you are having a problem and don’t find it resolved with this release, be sure to let Apple know via Apple’s feedback page for Mac OS X.

Rocket Yard Contributor
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  • Louis makes the same points that I would… But I’ll add this. Because Apple is so forward thinking, they will continue to lead the industry. Microsoft and other players can’t “skate to where the puck is going to be” quite as easily.

    The UNIX underpinnings of OS X are huge. Apple has built a huge series of ecosystems in all corners of its business, just as they have built an ecosystem of supporting structures around UNIX to build their OS.

    Increasingly, they are finding ways to link their systems all together, logistically. This linking of separate, but related systems is a key to their marketing successes, too, and will be the frustration of some of the largest players in the computing and consumer electronics industries.

  • Snow Leopard is like getting a whole new suspension and engine added to your car, so it runs faster and handles better. Much of what Snow Leopard does is to clear away the rubbish of the past and opens up for adventures ahead. It forces the developers to use the latest programming languages and techniques, rather than being lazy and staying with bloated code on obsolete API’s.

    Adobe is a leading example of lazy programers. CS3 runs fine on Snow Leopard. Adobe doesn’t tell you this because they want to sell you CS4. Of course, it doesn’t become a 64 bit only application until CS5 in a year. And Photoshop desperately needs to be a 64 bit app.

    Adobe wanted to continue using the same cross platform code which would work on Windows, so it stayed with Carbon API’s rather than moving to Cocoa as Apple asked everyone to do four years ago. Adobe was expecting to coerce Apple into issuing a 64 bit version of the Carbon API’s, but Apple said no. The Carbon API’s are procedural code which is a hangover from 20 years ago. It will be gone in five years.

    The Cocoa API’s are object oriented; they can do the same application an about half as much space. They run much faster and are easier to maintain. But, they aren’t cross platform with Microsoft Windows. Why? Because Microsoft Window isn’t Object Oriented.

    Apple intends to use Snow Leopard to become the leading edge of programming. It wasn’t going to allow Adobe to hold it back. Fast and exciting times are ahead for Apple.