You may also download this file. Running time: 6:51
A week ago last Friday, Apple unleashed Snow Leopard (aka OS X 10.6) on the world. So far, there haven't been many rumblings either way, although the trade press has been generally kind. We thought it might be a good idea to check in with Chris Seibold, author of the upcoming Mac OS X Snow Leopard Pocket Guide, to get his take on how things have been going.
While Snow Leopard hasn't been the 'stay up til midnight' barnburner that some previous releases have been, it has still been a strong seller, according to Seibold. "I was at the Apple store in Knoxville today and I asked them about that. They said they were selling a lot of copies. From personal experience, from people calling me and asking me, there's a lot of interest in it. I see the interest and I'm not sure people understand what's there for them fully yet. But they said they've been selling a ton of it at the Apple store.
I think the Apple Zen has been a little more muted. There's no midnight thing, no come and get the t-shirt kind of thing. For Apple users, they're just as excited as they were about Leopard or Tiger. I just think Apple has been downplaying it."
Chris says that the rollout seems to have been without major glitches so far, although it hasn't been perfect. "I heard some complaints about printing. I haven't heard a lot of complaints. I heard a lot of misgivings; a lot of people ask me, 'Oh, what's going to go wrong?' I'm like, 'Not much.' I was over at a friend's house today and he was worried about Photoshop because they're not going to update CS2 for Snow Leopard. But it still runs fine so it's no big deal. So I don't think there's any big, big issues for people that I've heard about. I'm sure in specific instances there are problems, but for community-wide, 'Oh, this is a major thing; we've got to get it fixed right away,' I haven't heard a whole lot. "
One area that is, if not a bug, causing confusion, is the transition to 64 bit applications. "There is a lot of confusion about that. I don't believe there's too many people focused on it, but let's see if I can remember this right. I think Apple's first 64-bit machine was the G5, which is several years old now. Snow Leopard won't even run on it. And with Leopard, they did some extensions so you could address it a little bit more. But it really wasn't fully 64-bit like Snow Leopard is. So I think people are like, 'I thought this was 64-bit.' But I guess the big difference with Snow Leopard is everything's 64-bit that Apple sends you now, except for Front Row and iTunes.
But the advantages of 64-bit aren't really that great. There's some security advantages, I guess. But the big advantage is being able to address more memory. And any Mac you buy, except for maybe the Mac Pro, comes with two gigabytes and maybe you can upgrade it to four. I'm not sure what the specs are on the latest ones. But most people have two gigabytes on their computer and/or maybe upgrade to four. If you've got less than that, what's the big 64-bit reason? It's kind of a forward-looking thing because in three years, you'll have how many gigabytes on your computer?"
Unless you do have a lot of RAM, Seibold doesn't think there needs to be any rush to upgrade to Snow Leopard. "10.6.1 will probably be out in a week so hey, go ahead and wait. But other than that, the big thing I guess it's kind of machine dependant, right? So if you've got a lot of money or you're a professional, you've got a Mac Pro and you've got 32-gigabytes of RAM in it. I mean I would run down to the Apple Store and upgrade because you'll get a lot more out of your computer. If you're just a user, there's a lot of little niceties. So the menus are better on the dock, the dock has a few extra features. Trying to pick five killer features when there's no killer features is really hard for this."
Chris says that the real benefits of Snow Leopard are going to come down the road, as developers begin to leverage the multi-core programming features that Apple included in the new OS. "There's Grand Central Dispatch, that and the open CL where it takes advantage of your video card processing power, I think you won't see that until the developers get on to it to write the programs. But it will make it a lot easier for them to use that power so down the road I think they're just going to get faster and faster."