Don’t Expect Anything but Incremental Improvements from Snow Leopard

by Hadley Stern Aug 27, 2009

Those of you hoping for some last minute big feature in Snow Leopard that Apple has somehow kept hidden from the world until now can stop hoping. It isn’t there.

In an ironic twist in Apple’s continuing PR battle with Microsoft perhaps the biggest new feature is Mail’s ability to natively work with Microsoft Exchange.

The rest of the visible improvements are incremental at best or superfluous, depending on your point of view.

So what are you really paying for with $29? You are paying for speed increases that are not entirely insubstantial and an operating system that is designed for the future. Those speed increases come thanks to the very hard work of Apple software engineers who have rewritten the core of the operating system to take advantage of everything OS X has to offer. And the future will be all the better once third party software developers take advantage of technologies like OpenCL, that allow programs to off-load processor tasks on the more-and-more powerful graphic card chips that in our computers.

Another way to look at it is that Snow Leopard is the operating system Apple had in mind when they decided to make the switch from OS 9. While we all meandered (and occasionally suffered) through the public beta, OS 10.1, Panther, Tiger, and Leopard, Snow Leopard is the prize at the end of all of this. Tiger was the first usable version of OS X, Leopard was the first useful version of OS X and Snow Leopard brings it all together, fast, refined, and it just works.

This is not to say you should go out there an immediately install Snow Leopard on your prized everyday Mac. Software is still software after all and early reports, including from the very trustworthy Walt Mossberg show that like with any update Snow Leopard has its issues. Snow Leopard’s release is like any other big OS update, its first users are ostensibly an extension of beta testing until the next patch release comes along.

But for those of you foolhardy, or, like me, blissfully lustful of the Next Big Thing you can expect a faster Mac, substantially faster native applications, and a UI that has had some significant spit-and-polish applied.

Just don’t expect anything revolutionary. That will hopefully come in the form of the tablet in the months to come.


  • Haven’t really noticed any speed improvements. Not to say they aren’t there, but not noticeable enough to, well, notice.

    Also, before installation my disk usage was 179GB, after installation, 183GB. Hello? Snow Leopard used an extra 4GB? But Apple said it would save 6 or 7GB?

    The reason is simple enough. Apple has also rejigged the way it measures disk space so that a HDD’s rated size is reflected in what OS X reports. As drives grew bigger the gap between a rated size and the OS reported size had grown. So Apple is just getting into line with how HDD manufacturers rate capacity.

    In fact, before Snow Leopard I had about 280GB free. But afterwards, despite appearing to have used an extra 4G, I have 316GB of free space. smile

    So I’ve used an extra 4GB but got an extra 36GB free! Fun, eh? smile

    BTW I HATE the new scrolling grid view of stacks. It copuld be easily fixed by letting me change the icon size.

    However, I love the grid view expose uses and the spacebar to zoom. It’s going to make expose a lot more usable.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Aug 28, 2009 Posts: 1209
  • Got to agree - I can’t say I’ve noticed any speed improvements on my Core 2 Duo 2.8GHz iMac.  Indeed, it’s pretty hard to notice any difference from Leopard other than a few minor tweaks.  Let’s hope all the good stuff is to follow now that develops have Grand Central and OpenCL to play with.

    Paul Howland had this to say on Aug 29, 2009 Posts: 38
  • Yeah, Paul, i think that’s when we’ll really see the benefits.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Aug 29, 2009 Posts: 1209
  • By the early 1990s, Apple was developing alternative platforms to the Macintosh, such as the A/UX. Apple had also begun to experiment in providing a Mac-only online portal which they called eWorld, developed in collaboration with America Online and designed as a Mac-friendly alternative to other online services such as CompuServe.-Any Lab Test Now

    Ana had this to say on Sep 19, 2011 Posts: 76
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