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Snow Leopard Review

August 28th, 2009

We’ve made a quick video to show some of the new Snow Leopard features. You can find our take on Snow Leopard below the video:

Background:

Mac OS X v10.6 (Codenamed: Snow Leopard) was announced on June 8th by Steve Jobs at the WWDC.  Today it has been released.  The upgrade is $29 for current Leopard single users and $49 for current Leopard family users with 5 licenses.  Anyone running previous versions of OS X will need to purchase the Mac Box Set which will include a full copy of Snow Leopard, iLife ’09, and iWork ’09 for $169.  This is the first Mac operating system to not support the older Motorola processors.

System Requirements:

  • Mac with an Intel Processor (Core Solo and Core Duo supported, Core 2 Duo and up preferred for 64-bit mode)
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 5GB of free disk space
  • DVD drive

Features:

This new version of OS X focuses more on performance than new interface gadgets.  It takes advantage of 64-bit processors, multi-core systems, and the instruction set provided by Intel processors over the older PowerPC architecture.

User Interface

There are of course some improvements to the UI even though the main focus is on performance and efficiency.

  • Expose now will show all windows for certain programs by holding down the left mouse button on icons in the dock.  This is comparative to Windows 7 new task bar preview feature.
  • Stacks now support a spring folder type feature allowing you to go into subfolders from within the stacks.
  • Finder is now updated to a 64-bit Cocoa app which should extremely speed up file processes.
  • Time Machine now does its backups in 20% of the time.
  • The OS X installer is now up to 50% faster and requires half the disk space of its predecessor.

Our Review:

You won’t see much difference in the interface with Snow Leopard over its predecessor.  The small tweaks though seem to be pretty good.  I was never a fan of stacks and thought it was implemented poorly especially when trying to navigate through subfolders.  With the new implementation it works much easier to find a certain file through Stacks instead of having to go through a Finder window.

For the new Expose style implemented into the dock, it may take getting used to, but it could turn out to be very handy when working with multiple windows from the same application.

Finder does seem more responsive in our initial tests when listing folders with several items and calculating file sizes.

Microsoft Exchange

This feature has been highly requested in the business market.  With support for Microsoft Exchange built in, this should help convince companies to make the switch over to Mac.  Mail, Address Book, and iCal all have built in Microsoft Exchange support.

64-bit addressing

Most of the built-in OS X applications have been rebuilt to take advantage of the 64-bit system. iTunes, Front Row, and DVD Player have not been upgraded yet, but all other applications should see a large performance increase on 64-bit systems.

Our Review:

Most applications are not optimized yet for the 64-bit addressing, but we can definitely detect more snappiness with the built-in Apple applications.  More benchmarks will need to be run to see the actual performance, but it looks promising.

Grand Central Dispatch

All current Macs have a multi-core processor, and with that, programmers can take advantage by sharing the workload across the two cores with parallel processing.  Most developers do not bother due to the added hassle, but with Grand Central Dispatch this will make it extremely easy for developers to implement a multi-core application as it will do most of the work for you.  Once the applications start coming in with this implemented, there should be a large performance increase.

Our Review:

Again, this will require the developers to start releasing applications that take advantage of this.  It’ll just take some time for most applications to be running at their full potential.  There is definitely a bright future though.

OpenCL

Most current machines come with a very good processor that is not even taken advantage of any everyday applications.  This is the graphics processor.  With OpenCL, applications will be able to offload complex functions and equations to the GPU and then send it back.  This again will greatly improve performance in complex applications such as games, video, and graphic editors.

Our Review:

Unfortunately out initial test machine just has onboard Intel graphics, so any possible advantage from OpenCL will not be seen on this system.  Once our employees start installing their own copies on their home machines geared more towards gaming we should have a clearer picture.  This again, however, is another feature that will take time to mature and see the results.  Developers have to program all of these new features in.

QuickTime X

Apple released a new major version of QuickTime.  This adds 64-bit support, HTTP live streaming, and many interface improvements.

Our Review:

The new QuickTime is one of the bigger things you’ll be able to play with right off the bat.  The new smokey black interface is a nice change from the old brushed metal look of older versions.  There are several new toys available now for people that did not have Pro versions before.  You can export videos into other formats, do screen, audio, and video captures straight from the application, and you can upload to Youtube and other sites directly from the application.

Common Unix Printing System

CUPS as it is more commonly known will be updated to allow more compatibility with printers.

Our Review:

The detection and implementation of printers does seem to work better.  The new printing system will also automatically update printer drivers for you, so you no longer have to go search manufacturer websites for updates when you have a problem.



15 Responses to “Snow Leopard Review”

  1. 15
    New York Snow Says:

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  2. 14
    Mariam Bussa Says:

    You actually put an exciting new spin over a topic thats been discussing cardio. Great stuff, just great!

  3. 13
    denologis Says:

    It requires so high specs. I hope my Macbook which will be given away by you can run by this OS perfectly. :D

  4. 12
    Jack Says:

    I think the most important part is that the upgrade only costs 30 bucks. I mean, $30 for an OS? That’s a huge deal.

  5. 11
    Marilyn Howard Says:

    I do love Snow Leopard but, there are a few “curves” you have to watch out for. Our son who lives out west posted on Facebook; “now I can’t play MLB audio through Airfoil to my garage AEBS (Airport Extreme Base Station, for all of you newbies)” so, he is waiting for a fix on that. I was bummed that my, new-to-me HP All-in-One 6500 E709a printer can no longer scan from the buttons on the machine – only from Preview, Image Capture or Preferences to the Printer Browser. I also do not see the option for OCR scanning any longer. But, small conveniences to give up for some super security and speed, just to mention a few of the many pluses.

  6. 10
    natalie Says:

    Snow Leopard come to me! Here kitty, kitty!

  7. 9
    Joe Says:

    Thanks for the quick review, we’re just upgrading all the machines here at work, and we haven’t gotten to mine yet. Now at least I’ll have a heads up.

  8. 8
    Bradley Says:

    No it doesn’t, but Snow Leopard will run on it.

  9. 7
    Dandu Says:

    Goof review

  10. 6
    BrokeHipster Says:

    Does this OS come on the macbook you’re giving away? if not, will it run on the 13″ macbook?

  11. 5
    voltiosin Says:

    I love it, SL is perfect!

  12. 4
    cindy Hickman Says:

    WOW! looks interesting!

  13. 3
    Christy Says:

    I just got my first Mac last year and I’m still learning all the differences. Thanks for the info on this upgrade–I’ll have to look into it.

  14. 2
    Carolyn Barnett Says:

    This sounds very interesting.I had never heard of Snow Leopard until today.

  15. 1
    Lance Says:

    I’m enjoying the more overt tweeks, but I’m getting a lot of crashes when I try to save files. Looks like a fresh install is in my future!

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