Snow Leopard’s Been Out for Six Months, Why Are So Many of Us Still Using Leopard?

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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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