A new cat is upon us, but that doesn’t mean I’ll pounce on the latest upgrade, pardon the pun. Dare I admit in public I’m not an early adopter? Hey, if you like living on the edge, go for it. Go ahead and cook your poultry […]

snow_leopard_boxA new cat is upon us, but that doesn’t mean I’ll pounce on the latest upgrade, pardon the pun. Dare I admit in public I’m not an early adopter? Hey, if you like living on the edge, go for it. Go ahead and cook your poultry below 165 degrees or eat raw eggs.

Me, I play it safe. Mac users like everything to work out to the box and a new OS simply doesn’t. Do you really want to spend your weekend messing with a “better” operating system? Ask these guys about that.

I may be a lonely voice among the chorus of praise for Snow Leopard, but here are five reasons why I’m going to wait a bit before hearing this new cat purr.

1. It’s a Point 0 Release

Maybe it’s because I’m married to a Quality Assurance engineer, but I worry about unfixed bugs. I remember 10.5 having a critical data loss bug. Will 10.6 have it? I hope not. What other bugs will be discovered that first weekend? Several. Some could make your Mac virtually unusable, while others will be merely annoying.

Which ones will I face? None. I’ll wait for you all to find them while I sit back and read about your trials and tribulations. Online forums are already full of posts noting the prevalence of software-based kernel panics in Snow Leopard, and undoubtedly there are many bugs waiting to be discovered in the days ahead as the rough edges get sanded down.

2. My Programs May Not Work Properly

In theory, the code has been in hands of developers for a long time and they should have been able to update for full compatibility. However, Apple changes aspects of Snow Leopard after each build, and some builds can introduce bugs very late in the game. Do I have time to check each and every app and make sure it’s Snow Leopard compatible? Some incompatibilities might even prevent an install. 10.5 early adopters ran into big problems with “haxies.” What should we avoid with a 10.6 install? I’ll find out next month I’m sure.

Should I even mention Quicken 2007? If your business relies on Quickbooks, would you trust it in Snow Leopard, especially with older versions Intuit no longer supports? How about old versions of Creative Suite left over from your PowerPC days? Adobe says you’re on your own with that. Programs not designed for Intel-based Macs are the most likely candidates for problems.

If you don’t care about productivity, have fun this weekend. If you use your Mac to help put food on the table, your biggest risk is to lose your primary money maker for a few days. If you can afford the down time in this economy, go for it. I sure can’t.

3. Hardware Could Fail, and Fail Hard

A long, long time ago…I can still remember… How my Mac would start up with a smile. I can’t figure out how to change the words of American Pie to include the day AppleTalk died, but die it does in Snow Leopard, after outlasting System Enablers, floppy drives, and SCSI. That trusty laser printer you connect via AppleTalk becomes a big huge paperweight under Snow Leopard according to most reports. Someone might develop a workaround, but that isn’t going to help you with your deadlines.

Your printer isn’t the only casualty in Snow Leopard. An old Palm Pilot or Palm-based phone is no longer supported, and you’ll be required to buy third party software such as Missing Sync. As of this writing, Missing Sync isn’t fully compatible with Snow Leopard. What other hardware might have problems? Scanners are my next guess. Hopefully your manufacturer will develop a driver if your product is still supported. Speaking of support…

4. Lack of Support by Vendors

A vast majority of the support people you talk with will be completely flummoxed if you’re running Snow Leopard. They already treat you like a second-class citizen because you’re on a Mac. If they ask which version of the OS I’m running and I say 10.6, I suspect their brain will explode right then and there.

Snow Leopard will be blamed, not their product. Cable modem down: Snow Leopard. Printer making grinding noise: Snow Leopard. Health care claim denied: Snow Leopard. You’re probably laughing, but maybe not, if you’re one of many who’s run into something similar.

5. I’m Cheap

Sure, I’ll only pay $10 for the Up-To-Date program and others will only have to pay $29. However, my new iMac works great. Even $10 is an unneeded expense. Why mess with something that’s working well? My system works, I get things done. The last thing I need is to change everything. I’ll give it a few months until 10.6.1 comes out and the early adopters have done the hard work of finding problems.

Who else is going to skip curling up with a new cat this weekend and wait for someone else to find the sharp claws?

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  1. I’m going to upgrade and hope for the best. I have a new harddrive enclosure coming so I can backup my music and videos. Past that I’m ready. I would have installed a prerelease version if I didn’t feel like it was so unethical. I’m sure, since it was made for new macbooks and such that it will be fine. An older macbook, maybe i’d be a little more hesitant. But I trust Apple to make a product that should for the most part go off without a hitch. I may wait a few minutes before I install to make sure there are no major bugs though.

  2. I am hoping that my copy of Snow Leopard will arrive a day or two late, giving me a chance to view the SL Day +1 and +2 issues before I take the plunge into the new 10.6. Even if it does arrive on time, I will probably wait til the 29th or 30th to even think about installing it. School will be starting soon again and I don’t want to be struggling with bugs during lectures.

    I started out with 10.5, so I’ve never had to deal with an OS upgrade on OS X. How long did it take Apple to address the big bugs 10.5 had a launch?

  3. My typewriter still works too, but that doesn’t keep me from living in the present.

  4. Absolutely valid points, and an absolutely valid strategy. Personally, I will be upgrading as soon as I can, because that’s just how I roll.

    But also, I’ve cloned my hard drive to an external drive, and will update the clone last thing before upgrading…and I will perform the upgrade with the external drive disconnected. I highly recommend this strategy.

  5. I will upgrade the moment I get the OS in hand. There is no better way to learn an OS then to dive in head first. But hey I am an OS guy I like em all.

  6. i can’t upgrade i have all powerpc’s and yet all of them work really fast faster than my intel core 2 duo windows machine.

    1. i knew this day would come! i ordered top of the line quad g5 and then apple went intel, i feared that all apps will be intel. and boy am i glad i got rid of that just in time!

  7. I think you are exactly right, and I plan on waiting also. It always amazes me when I see people, who depend on a Mac for their business, and they are reporting some problem with the OS or a new version of software after they jumped on it as soon as it was released. Then they cry “please help me – I got this deadline in two hours and the OS/program won’t work/deleted my file/overcooked dinner or whatever.” I have my drive cloned, so I could upgrade right away, but how do I test everything after the upgrade? What if I find a problem a week later, when my clone is no longer current, at which point it would be difficult to downgrade to 10.5? I appreciate your words of caution and plan to do likewise.

  8. Certainly the many Mac users should wait at least a few days. It is fairly common to have show stopper bugs in first releases even from Apple. Waiting to see a few reports from reputable sources (note: this does not include PC-World, CNET nor Wired) will give you a better idea if you want to undergo the problems inherent in new OS software. And waiting for 10.6.1-10.6.3 is a good idea for anyone with mission-critical applications on their Macs.

    Having said that, the majority of Mac users don’t have to wait. Most Macs are used by consumers for tasks that are probably thoroughly tested. If you use your Mac for email/web/photo editing using iPhoto etc., it is unlikely that any problems will cause you huge headaches. Upgrade and have fun.

    For those waiting, watch MacFixIt.com and Macintouch.com for information about problems with the release and installation and ignore flame-baiting articles from the usual suspects trying to scare you from Apple products.

  9. Kennon Bickhart Wednesday, August 26, 2009

    Yea, these are valid arguments. I would wager that by the middle of September there won’t be any programs that don’t work in Snow Leopard. I’m running the latest Seed, and I’ve only run into one problem (Crossover). Which I don’t really use at all, just have it installed just to have it ever since their free giveaway.

    If you DO want to install right away though, here is a link to a Wiki that lists compatible programs.


    1. I was ready to buy it and install it tomorrow, but looking through that list of compatible (and more importantly, INcompatible) apps, I think I might actually hold off, at least for a week or so, and observe. I’m just not in the mood for unnecessary headaches.

  10. I think you’re wrong when you say because its a point o release. It’s clear that Apple refactored their code, revamped their underlying architecture and fixed bugs in Snow Leopard. That’s why we’re not seeing any UI changes and wow features. Leopard would have more bugs than Snow Leopard. May be my hopes are too high.

    1. Hm, I would actually think the opposite. An OS upgrade that adds a bunch of new features, but more or less leaves the backend code alone would probably find most of it’s problems in the new features, but remain relatively stable on the whole. An upgrade where much of the underlying code is rewritten and redone would potentially cause instability.

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