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back to article Mac OS X Snow Leopard First Look

At my age, I look forward to upgrading my OS about as much I look forward to a trip to the dentist. Why break something that works? Why risk wasting hours hunting down drivers that potentially don't exist, with the possibility that well-loved hardware becomes obsolete? Last time I upgraded the OS, I had to put my scanner on …

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Good review

Thanks Andrew.

Well written and organized.

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Paris Hilton

It must be me

Do we have an Operating system reviewed as 'Hardware'?

<--Our young friend here knows the difference between hard and soft, I'm sure

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Anonymous Coward

Mac & PC owner

Having played with both Win 7 & Snow Leopard I am looking forward to both but SL feels like a minor update that should have been free, there is no selling point other than better optimised code that should have been in Leopard originally. Will await the torrent.

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Screen Zoom

First up, I loved the bit about the icons - 512x512 icons because you're weird.

Now, I'm not an "icon porn" person (didn't expect to be saying that today!), but could the large icons be related to the screen zoom accessibility feature. In Leopard, screen zoom just scales a bitmap of the screen, it does not scale the screen components individually (i.e. text and icons). Is this still the case in Snow Leopard, or is the screen zoom a bit more intelligent?

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Anonymous Coward

Dentist?

"At least Microsoft has got one thing right: a compelling upgrade comes up as often as a trip to the dentist should - about every eight years."

This explains why the English have such bad teeth

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Re: Mac & PC owner

If the optimisations in Snow Leopard aren't worth £25 then surely they're not worth you breaking software copyright laws either?

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@AC

I think the core stuff has changed more than you think. "Blocks" add closures to both C and Objective-C, and Grand Central provides a really efficient way of scheduling closures. Then there's OpenCL, which unites the power of the CPU and GPU for appropriately-written code, well above and beyond explicitly graphics-related tasks. And both of those are integrated into the core OS, as first-class ways of running code.

From the consumer viewpoint, Quicktime finally seems to have the 'Pro' features baked in, which is significant, and the shrinking/optimising sounds like it has occurred at every level from the bundled apps downward.

That's probably all just excuses, however. Me, I'm perfectly willing to pay £25 for a consolidation and optimisation release if it gets the message into Apple's head that they don't need to keep doing stupid tacky little bloaty things like making the dock 3d, making the menubar transparent, etc, just to keep us up with their strategic technology positioning decisions.

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Great preview

In regard to Apps showing as a folder and Downloads showing as a stack, in my experience I'd say this is because when using the applications folder you'd want to see all of them at once, but with downloads it's usually only the last downloaded file, or the last few that you're after. When you click the stack you get the most recent closest to your mouse.

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Terminator

Nagging question

I have always wondered what the Automator was holding, now I want to know what it intends to do with that bazooka. Do we need to declare a ROTM warning?

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FAIL

@AC

"SL feels like a minor update that should have been free, there is no selling point other than better optimised code that should have been in Leopard originally."

Well I guess you'll be expecting Win7 for free too then.

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Anonymous Coward

Safari running under 32bit

I believe Safari is currently defaulted to run 32bit so as to avoid complications due to plugins that don't currently come in 64bit flavour, mentioning no names.

Whether or not you actually want Flash to have access to 64bit address spaces is a question for another day...

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Grenade

@ toothsome AC 15:26

And why in general we don't wire up our beautiful daughters' teeth like alligators eating chainsaws.

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@AC

I'm always amused at this site whenever someone mentions downloading something for free all the 'Holier than thou' brigade come out with smart arsed comments about 'freetards'.

Watch you don't get vertigo on the moral highground you sit on Doug Lowe. It must be great having obviously never broken any laws whatsoever, so that you are able to pass comment on other people with apparent impunity.

Glass houses and stone throwing etc.

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Anonymous Coward

More Apple Profit

For $29 you get the $9.95 UPGRADE disc.

For $169 you get the $129 FULL INSTALL disc.

This is great for users and Apple's bottom line.

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WTF?

"The Rolls-Royce of browsers"

"Opera"...?

Is that a joke?

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Good review

It's taken Apple a long time but the more NextStep and the less Classic the better. I assume there is still some carbon code in there but getting rid of it in the Finder and anything that's derived from that should make a whole lot of things snappier and easier to work with.

The pricing is interesting as it looks more and more like OSes are being commodified. Mac users are mainly hardware customers anyway so probably about 50% of customers will have SnowLeopard within 12 months. It would be a pity about the PowerPC users if there weren't so few of them left. While you're right to point out that could benefit the most from optimisations they've had optimised PowerPC code all the time. A great many users won't benefit significantly from changes since Tiger as long as their applications run. The move to through and through coacoa will cause resentment for some application users who might be considering an application upgrade but resent having to upgrade application + OS. Except if it's Photoshop the price of the OS is going to pale against the price of the upgrade and the benefits of pure coacoa stacks and huge memory addressability might be very compelling.

Back to commodification: Apple, please bite the bullet and integrate MacPorts into the system.

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bex

re Dentist?

I should imagine that as I can have 5 fillings for £42 in the uk and in the States you would have to take out a second mortgage there will me more people with bad teeth in the States than the UK

THe old knocking Brits teeth is just lazy and wrong.

Back to the review , very informative , I am looking forward to SL maybe it will solve my memory leak problems as well

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Jobs Horns

Most of the speed boost

comes from cutting out the old G4-G5 code.

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Looks Nice But...

I'm sure Apple users are happy with Leopard and Snow Leopard but I just can't see how it's any better than Kubuntu Jaunty.

The Apple hardware is top-notch but if I had a Mac I'd install Kubuntu on it. It seems Mac OS is too much of a compromise - you lose the Windows compatibility but don't enjoy the Linux power in the range of available software.

Each to their own though.

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J 3

Nice...

I'm not a fan of the Mac OS X interface in general, but one has got to give praise when people release new software that makes a 3 year old computer run *faster* than before, instead of forcing you to "upgrade". Not that the "old" computer was a clunker to begin with, but still...

"Safari's public beta on Leopard weighs in at 45MB, but the Snow Leopard Safari at just 14MB. The Address Book shrinks from 58MB to 15MB. Mail is now 77.5MB."

THAT might be worrying. I mean, was it SO extremely optimized? Or did they just incorporate parts of the programs into the OS? We already know what can happen when people do that... Hopefully not.

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Unhappy

@Doc Spock

Nope, fraid its just the same old bitmap scaling

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dgp
Flame

Who told them..

that it was the most advanced operating system in the world? USB3 support? Nope. Only just getting around to porting the userland to amd64,.... apple are so full of shit.

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@AC

"This explains why the English have such bad teeth"

You realise over 100million Americans have either no or insufficient health care trouble right? And that children in the US are dying from infections caused by... tooth decay right? People in glass houses should not throw bricks, especially when children in the US are dying from bad dental care, or in fact, lack of any dental care.

You sir... fail.

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I guess I have to stick...

...to my Quadra 840AV running 7.6.1 and leave it at that. Back in its day it was a "smokin" machine. Too bad Apple abandoned the 68k for the PPC only to abandon that for intel. Just think what would have happened if IBM hadn't picked an intel processor for the original PC 28 years ago. We can only dream. (*SIGH*)

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Happy

hee hee

Automator? Bazooka?

http://xerlmg.bay.livefilestore.com/y1p6Zfr8fZ79FILUa7Ful4sPvNYpQyAj-YzCjdaVmXK8Gd69W0gmilRldrXYUbAlSbJaRt4-KYqhBC8-UQoMcSTlg/071212%2001c12a.png

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Anonymous Coward

@ dgp

you want to show me some real-life, on the market USB3-toting motherboards and peripherals of any variety? Take your time, I'll be sitting here being amused by your belief that Apple are doing anything at all with amd64 (clue: Intel).

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IT Angle

My Teeth

My Nashers would give any Americans a run for their money all thanks to the NHS, and possibly a good diet. You think Hamsters teeth are white - ha.

Anyway where's the IT Angle?

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Happy

BIG icons...

...are really handy when you're using a lot of images and photos in a design environment - saves using preview all the time when you're opening stuff in photoshop etc.

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@AC "Looks Nice But..."

Nice troll. If there is any Linux software you want to run, then please explain why it would be incompatible with the X server that Apple ship as an optional install with their operating system. In reality, the software you can run on a Mac is a superset of that which you can run on a Linux machine, and quite a spectacular one once you figure in the wares of firms like Adobe, Microsoft and Apple themselves (re: the video production tools especially).

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WTF?

Re: @ dgp

Not a mac fanboi at all (totally agree linux will support usb3 before mac) but amd64 in this case is used as a generic term for 64bit x86 instruction set which Intel totally ripped off from AMD including some of early flaws. Why Intel believes they can rename it to EM64T when they pulled a page from AMDs playbook and copied another companies instruction set is beyond me (yes I know there are slight differences but this was done by Intel on purpose to make it harder for others to optimize specifically to the AMD64 chips). Really it is correct to call x86_64 AMD64 because they did invent the instruction set (lol Intels greatest failure but Chipzilla with more money than God can spin it into record profits).

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Anonymous Coward

I'm sorry...?

That's supposed to be major new release... and I get to arrange a list of files by date, last modified... and I can click on a file and there's a send to option... and it supports 64bit... and it will cost me £25 quid...

Am I missing a trick here?

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Anonymous Coward

Size reduction mostly from cutting language support

I think the size difference for applications is mostly due to support for non-native languages being stripped out.

You can do this right now in Leopard - Get Info on an application, then reveal the Languages section if necessary. For most applications, you'll see a list of different languages. Note the size of the application (in the General section), then select all languages except the one(s) you want to keep, and click the '-' (minus) button under the list. Now check the size again. The language resources are moved to the trash, so you'll have to actually empty the trash to regain the disc space.

Some applications (like Frontrow) don't have a languages section. VMWare Fusion leaves the list disabled. In either case, I don't know why.

There are tools to do this automatically, like Monolingual.

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@asdf

Ummm, it was my understanding that intel license the AMD64 extensions from AMD but otherwise, nice rant.

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@A.C Looks Nice But...

Oh oh, beware of the troll. Damn I wish I had an operating system I could run software on...

Anyhow, nice review. I will be considering Snow Leopard at some point in the very near future.

I suspect I will just cave in and head to the Apple store on Friday. My only concern is that I have a first generation Intel iMac (Which still runs very well) and I wonder how this affects SL with is being a 32 bit machine.

Before anyone posts, yeah I know the difference between 32 and 64 bit word lengths and it's more about how much memory it can access rather than speed, but I would rather hold off a little bit until I know what Apple are doing with those extra bits.

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Anonymous Coward

Missing tricks

You're missing a lot of tricks, Steve116.

OpenCL, Grand Central Dispatch, Exchange Server support, Quicktime X to name but a few.

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Anonymous Coward

Good stuff

@Richard Drysdall

Thanks very much for the hint, iCal has gone from 90+Mb to just 14Mb by removing all languages but English! That's gonna come in very handy on my cramped powerbook, tips like that make reading these opinions worthwhile...

@Steve116

Yes, go back to your etch a sketch

My opinion on Linux - it's just not there yet.. and it's falling further behind the curve.. if you want a cheap computing experience you use windows, if you want a hassle free and productive experience you choose a mac if you want to pull your hair out trying to get something installed and rally behind a fragmented community (with a few shining stars) you choose Linux.

I keep checking in on linux especially ubunutu wanting it to make something of itself but even now it feels poorly thought out and poorly put together, it seems to me the people saying Linux is anything near the Mac experience have only static screenshots to go on...

And I'd have to agree with Thom H, any BSD/GNU app I need can easily be installed via Mac Ports and if needed can use on Apples supplied X Server.. which just works..

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Happy

@Steve 116

I know that you are being deliberately facetious, but the is an awful lot more to it than you mention! I can see the argument that it is "just a service pack" if you apply Microsoft business model to it. This isn't a Microsoft product though (you can tell this by the *lack* of pointless SKU's)! Apple use a different model - major point upgrades that are paid for(10.3 -> 10.4, 10.4 -> 10.5) and updates (10.5.6 -> 10.5.7 -> 10.5.8 - Tiger went to 10.4.11) which are free. The updates are closer to Microsoft's service packs. Apple, to much critism, don't tend to release patches in the same way that Microsoft do either.

10.6 has a lot of 'under the hood improvements'. The Finder, OS X's equivalent of Explorer for instance has been re-written as I understand it from the ground-up and Quicktime finally seems to have been upgraded! Not to mention new technologies like Grand Central Dispatch and OpenCL, not forgetting that it's the first OS outside of Windows to have Exchange compatability built in - in fact Windows dosn't have exchange compatbility built in! Apple, realising that people aren't going to pay what they have for the previous upgrades because of the lack of *visible* feature improvements (I paid ~£80 for Leopard) have set the price at a far more reasonable level to reflect this.

I'll put it to you another way. Microsoft expect us to pay how much for fixing Vista?! I paid for Ultimate (I know, I know!) haven't received any 'extra features' of note (no, animated desktop backgrounds and a shite robot game don't count) surely I should get the Windows 7 Ultimate upgrade for free!!!

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Stop

Yet the problem still remains.

You don't buy a mac because nothing runs on it (outside of what it comes with, and Office/photoshop).

If anyone asks me "should I buy a mac?" the response is always "do you ever do anything on your PC other than surf the web, write emails, word processing or drawing"? if the answer is yes, don't get a mac...

Easy as that...

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@it must be me

Well, you can't have the software without the hardware, so it kinda makes sense...

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(Written by Reg staff)

@MarkOne

This is so bollocks, Sony Boy. Yes, there are plenty more applications on Windows than on Mac OS X, but to say you can only do the basics on it is willful trolling. Some major apps are not on OS X, true, but that doesn't mean to say there are no equally powerful equivalents - quite the reverse.

Fewer apps overall also means the general level of quality is higher. I have downloaded many more Windows apps that have turned out to be tosh than I have Mac ones.

That's not to say all Mac apps are perfect - far from it. But then that's not true of apps on other platforms either. But it is definitely not the case that fewer choices means less quality, or that the Mac platform has no choice at all.

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@AC

"This explains why the English have such bad teeth"

There's an old Monty Python joke taken too seriously by the yanks again. Tell me, did you get that quote off the news recently?

My family, all six of them, has perfect teeth and have never had to pay a single penny or wait longer than a week for their dental appointments.

I recently used a non-NHS dentist for some cosmetic work (which no insurance will cover) and it cost more than it would in, say, hungary. But it still cost less than it would in the states - I know because I shopped around.

So, free or paid for - we have the better deal.

Anyway yes Snow Leapard, cool £25 upgrade, off to PC World I go.

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Next, the big picture?

A worthy article, as is Tim Anderson's on Windows 7.

Now, if you could just document a definitive discussion on which is the better of the two? You could pay for a jolly by buying shares in the winner shortly before you publish and selling them a day later.

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Missing Tricks

@AC 9:13 / 9:14 -

So in the latest hype fest there's a bunch of under-the-bonnet stuff your average joe ain't gonna have the the first clue about and whats that? a quicktime update playing catchup to recover the ground they lost to flash streaming and that 1990's must-have MS exchange support so your office designer dude can get cc'd in on those all important corporate meeting request, i mean didn't the cloud, GMAIL et al or even a good ole SMTP mail connection dimish the importance of this anyway?

You are having trouble selling this to me i'm afraid. A technical building block it may be but in terms of broad consumer appeal or compelling reason to upgrade/purchase I don't see this exactly catching fire.

Half your userland stuff isn't gonna run in 64bit and when Adobe does get around releasing 64bit Photoshop for MAC you are gonna have to pay again for that upgrade.

32-64bit does not always equal performance boost anyway - it's an architecture choice more appropriate to certain classes of application (optimised database/network servers) and perhaps some high end video post production stuff where you move large chunks of data round but to mom and pop writing an email its almost totally irrelevant.

Thanks, I'll stick to a free copy of ubuntu Jaunty running on my commodity £200 dell laptop and continue running Debain 64bit / Centos 64bit on my 8cpu quad core servers for the serious computing stuff...

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Joke

$29 != £25

29.00 USD = 17.7933 GBP

United States Dollars United Kingdom Pounds

1 USD = 0.613561 GBP 1 GBP = 1.62983 USD

so is that extra £8quid profit going into revolutionary top-secret Apple research shortly to be announced where they declare the future to be the "TWO BUTTON MOUSE" ????

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Smaller footprint

Surely the reduction in the OS footprint comes mostly from the fact that the binaries are now just Intel binaries and not the previous "Universal Binaries" which packed a PPC and Intel binary into the same file?

Just ordered my Mac Box Set copy (OS X SL + iLife'09 + iWork'09) from the Apple Store for 169 EUR. A bargain, and about time I got back to owning paid for copies of OS X and iLife ;-)

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Anonymous Coward

Family pack vs single user

The family pack pricing is nice but do Apple actually put any 'single licence' features on their discs (ie is there anything other than personal honesty to prevent you installing a 'single user' disc on multiple machines?). I don't remember ever entering a licence code with Apple OS'es - the install discs that come with hardware are locked down to a fairly tight hardware config but that's it isn't it?

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@ Dental comments

I had to spend a fortune undoing 8 years of UK NHS dentistry, so I'm with the naysayers. Or lived in the wrong postcode.

Anyway, back on topic, I actually like point upgrades because they tend to simply improve things instead of showing new "features" down your throat. I've been considering adding a Mac laptop to my collection, just to get some experience with it, and it may even become my primary OS. Depends a bit on how I like it after a few months - I also use Linux (Ubuntu and OpenSuSE) and Windows (XP, thanks, touched Vista once).

Thank you for the review, it was helpful information and pleasant to read.

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@ SmallYellowFuzzyDuck

One of the rumour sites (ie, take with a pinch of salt) reports that Snow Leopard boots in 32bit natively even on quite a few of the older Core 2 Duos, owing to them shipping with a 32bit EFI. It can still run 64bit software on compatible CPUs, but the kernel, drivers, etc, stick with the 32bit paths. As a Core Duo owner, I'm therefore optimistically assuming that specific work will have gone into these paths above and any changes or optimisations that affect everything.

I also am basing my upgrade decision mainly on it being cheap and the Apple Store being nearby, though I also want to check out the Grand Central and OpenCL stuff. I have Windows 7 on order too, to catch up on .NET stuff.

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@Mark62

Allthough the PPC binaries have been cut out they would not really result in any speed boost. Application Bundles store the PPC and Intel binaries, all the assets for apps are the same. It would make the bundles smaller but the reduction in size in Applications is due to not bundling Frameworks and extra languages in the Apps. I'm sure theyve got rid of many drivers and PPC related system frameworks, etc.

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@Looks Nice But

Where's Logic Studio, Aperture, Photoshop, Final Cut, Microsoft Office for Linux?

If you want professional quality applications in a no fuss, no glitch environment you use a Mac. If you can be bothered to tweak the hell out of Windows and put up with audio glitches then you can use Windows by all means.

If you want to spend most of your life debugging config problems, installing additional libraries and setting up property files then sure, use Linux for your professional creativity needs. But Linux on the desktop isn't much cop in terms of responsiveness.

I just want to run an application and work, not spend time figuring out why the audio keeps pausing or my MIDI keyboard isn't working. OSX gives me this. When I used Windows the applications would glitch or crash, I would then give up writing music for the evening as there's nothing more of a killer to creativity than losing some good work.

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