So here we are, just past the six month mark since Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard was sprung last August 28, and I’m still using OS 10.5 Leopard. I have lots of company. The NetApplications HitsLink Market Share data for February 2010 shows that Leopard is […]


So here we are, just past the six month mark since Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard was sprung last August 28, and I’m still using OS 10.5 Leopard.

I have lots of company. The NetApplications HitsLink Market Share data for February 2010 shows that Leopard is still the most widely-used OS X version, with a 2.21 percent global market share compared to 1.8 percent for Snow Leopard, and good old OS 10.4 Tiger still hanging in at 0.72 percent.

Why the Procrastination?

So, why the procrastination about upgrading? It’s certainly not the cost holding me back. Snow Leopard is the cheapest Mac OS version upgrade in history, other than complete freebies.

Well, for one thing, Leopard works so darned well, and making a major OS upgrade always involves time investment and the hassle of upgrading at least some of your software and utilities (more about that in a moment), and I’ve been short of spare time the last several months. I also tend to be of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” persuasion, and haven’t been convinced there’s anything Snow Leopard has to offer that’s a genuine must-have for me.

Some of the improvements — things like a more responsive Finder rewritten from scratch in Cocoa, faster Time Machine backups, a more powerful version of the Preview application — sound like welcome tweaks, but nothing I find compelling. Stuff like enhanced Microsoft Exchange Server support for Mail, iCal, and Address Book have zero appeal for me since I don’t use that service or any of those features, preferring third-party alternatives. Nor do Snow Leopard’s Safari upgrades fizz me much since I favor other browsers with Safari being my fourth or fifth choice, if that.

Bitten Once…

There is also the bitten once; twice shy factor. I ordered OS 10.5 Leopard from Amazon.com a day or two after it was released on October 26, 2007, and immediately installed it on my then main production machine, a 1.33 GHz PowerBook G4. I’m not by nature or temperament an enthusiastic early adopter, but Leopard, hyped by Apple as being “the largest update of Mac OS X” yet, incorporating more than 300 new features, had so much cool stuff I really wanted to check out. Especially the Spaces and QuickLook features, which were every bit as good or even better than I had anticipated, and what I miss most on the two old G4 upgraded Pismo PowerBooks I still have in daily service running OS 10.4.

However, there was pain associated with my early move to Leopard, notwithstanding all the good stuff. I’m a windowshading junkie, and I simply can’t abide not having that feature, for which no function built into any version of OS X comes remotely close to being a satisfactory substitute. Windowshading’s been integrated into my work habits for more than a decade. Typically I may have two dozen or so windows open, scattered amongst nine Spaces views, mostly windowshaded, conveniently identifiable by their full title bars being visible.

Unfortunately, OS 10.5 upgrade broke third-party WindowShade X, and I was obliged to struggle along for several months without windowshading until its developer, Unsanity Software, got a Leopard-compatible version of its proprietary and required system add-on Application Enhancer (APE) out the door in February 2008, mercifully restoring WindowShade X support to Leopard.

Withdrawal too Painful to Repeat

Snow Leopard broke Windowshade X and Application Enhancer redux, and I’m not willing to go through that form of addiction withdrawal again.

Unsanity say they’re busily rewriting their more popular “haxie” add-ons to support Snow Leopard, the latest word being that WindowShade X is largely redone, its MIP system rewritten from scratch, and currently at internal beta status, a new build seeded to testers on February 13. A public beta should be released any day now. Until it is, I’m sticking with Leopard.

How about you? If you’re among the plurality of Mac users still running Leopard, and not because you’re on a PowerPC Mac, is something else in particular holding you back?

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  1. Neither Mustek nor Apple have come up with a driver that works for Mustek’s 11X17 scanner. As a comic artist, that’s a huge deal-breaker for me.

    I also teach art and design, but now that I’m using Screenr.com for screen capture, I have no use for Quicktime X.

    1. have you tried VueScan for your scanner on os x? Check it out.

  2. Still on Leopard. For the price, there’s nothing I need. Though I hear it’s necessary for the new magic mouse, thinger. I may go to both of those in the next month, but I’ve been saying that for, what, 3 months now?

    Don’t hold your breath… ;)

  3. For $30 bucks, it’s totally worth it simply for the speed.

  4. Am guessing its the universities and the colleges that are the people who are not upgrading. My uni is still using windows 2000 on some machines and there is no sight of windows vista or windows 7 on the rest of them. On the older macs they have, there is still OSX 10.4 on them! Why? No one wants to upgrade if they can do what they can do with what they have got already.

    At the end of the day, the application developers had more the 6 months to get their software working right, if they have not, then I suggest going to another software vendor with a decent alternative because compatibility is a dieing excuse for not upgrading.

  5. Snow Leopard is much faster. Most everything, including non-64 bit, works great with Rosetta, and it cures everything except this constant “cheep, cheep” sound I’m hearing. Try http://snowleopard.wikidot.com/ to check compatibility to favorite program… :-)

  6. For me, I upgraded right out of the bat and didn’t have many issues. However, it did break Quicksilver and Kanji Go. I have learned to live without both, but I would really love to have both back.

    1. Hey, check out Sente Goban at http://www.sente.ch. I never had a problem with it on any version of MacOS, including Snow Leopard.

      Sunny Guy (Atari)

    2. @Kenneth H
      Check Alfred – a quicksilver alternative I just stumbled upon:

  7. I haven’t upgraded, despite that initially tempting price, because of having CS3 apps that I need for work. I can’t afford to go buy them all over again. I’d love 10.6, but not a chance till I can have my CS3.

    1. I had to reinstall my CS3 but otherwise it works fine under Snow Leopard. I use Photoshop Extended, Illustrator and InDesign CS3 on a daily basis with 10.6.2.

    2. I have snow leopard at home – I went straight from tiger. During the installation process, check that opt to include Rosetta – it’s in a separate folder (Optional Installs – or something) If you do that, CS3 should work fine. My CS2 is…

    3. I run CS3 everyday with Snow Leopard. It runs fine.

  8. Haven’t jumped aboard yet, mainly because I’ve heard Snow Leopard doesn’t play nice with Adobe Illustrator. (I still use CS and it doesn’t show up on the Wiki compatibility chart.) Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong and I’ll happily slap down my $30 to upgrade…

    1. Charles Martin Jon Monday, March 8, 2010

      CS (the original) is many years old now, so its hardly that surprising. I frankly think you’re mad not to have upgraded to CS3 by now, *huge* improvement.

      But this feeds into my dismissal of this “story” as seen in the post below …

    2. OK — I’ll have to get that CS3 upgrade then. You talked me into it!

    3. The original Photoshop CS seems to work just fine on Snow Leopard despite not being “supported”. I don’t use Illustrator.

    4. @ Charles&Jon: you mean CS4 (the current version)?
      FWIW, CS4 on SnowLeopard is noticeably faster than CS1 and 2 was on Leopard.

  9. Charles Martin Monday, March 8, 2010

    This story is a total reach … for starters, the difference in the two OS’s share is 0.4%.

    Secondly, your “story” dismisses the single largest factor, which is simply “ineligibility.” Even a fourth-grader could have worked out that a lot of Mac users are still on PPC machines … they’re not prone to throw out a working Mac and buy a new computer just because the latest OS requires an Intel (that sounds more like “Windows thinking” to me!). Mac users have great machines and are generally not in a mad rush to upgrade software, particularly if its working well. Simple as that.

    Finally, this is a total non-issue in the first place. Inevitably, every single one of the PPC and/or Leopard-using Mac owners will have to move on, if for no other reason than because they had to replace their machine at some point.

    If there’s a story here at all, it’s that Snow Leopard is running on 45% of the Mac base within six months, the exact opposite of your pro-Leopard spin. That’s a remarkable adoption rate, let’s ask Microsoft how well Vista got adopted, or how well Win 7 has been adopted — my guess is that the 50% mark is still a long way off for them …

    I don’t mean to diss Leopard here — it’s great, particularly for PPC owners — but to infer (as you have) that there’s something wrong with SL or that it’s not a “hit” is pretty biased and based on nothing. The truth of the matter is that the transition to Intel has been a *massive* success, and the adoption rate of SL only proves that. Imagine Microsoft telling their userbase that they’re all moving to non-Intel chips starting next year and what the reaction would be …

    1. Yup.

      Most of my Macs are PPC and barely can run Leopard.

    2. You hit the nail on the head. It takes a trivial amount of thought to come to this correct conclusion. Too bad the author isn’t as bright.

    3. Bingo. A large percentage of Mac users are still running Power PC machines, including many big universities.

      I upgraded and Snow Leopard has a lot nice small refinements and is much faster. I use CS3, and I haven’t noticed any problems.

  10. Charles is right. It’s still a very fast adoption rate.

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