In Defense of Snow Leopard

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The internets are abuzz with a small uprising against Snow Leopard. Some pundits even argue it is simply a service pack. I disagree.

The most frequently cited evidence by critics is the lack of significant changes to the user interface. They aregue that because Snow Leopard doesn’t look much different from Leopard, it is somehow lacking. I think this position misses the point. Apple never intended to make Snow Leopard look significantly different from Leopard. Indeed, Apple posted a slide at WWDC that Snow Leopard had “0 New Features”, which was received with applause by the audience.

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Of course there are a lot of new features in Snow Leopard, but this sentiment is understandable. How many times have you received an operating system or application upgrade and said to yourself, “Gee, rather than adding three new broken features, I wish they had made the old version work better, faster, and smaller.” The thing is, Apple called our bluff. They did it.

It is like bringing your car to the shop where the mechanic upgrades your engine, drops in a new transmission and replaces the windshield wipers. You then pick up your car and say, “Hey, you just replaced the wipers. What good are you?”

Putting aside the fact Snow Leopard does so much work under the hood, it also adds quite a few significant interface improvements to Leopard. There is a lot more here than new wiper blades. The new services menu is much more useful to me than anything Leopard brought to the table. The dock Expose’ changes are also welcome. Indeed, I like all of the user interface changes. Some of my favorites are the little ones like easy linking in e-mail (command K), the speedy Finder, a sensible naming protocol for screenshots, and easy sound source control (option click the menubar sound icon). I’m sure I’ll discover more in the coming weeks.

While prior cats may have given us a new paint job or leather seats, Snow Leopard is all about horsepower. In many ways, it may be the most important OS X upgrade yet as it enables the Mac to seamlessly transition to the hyper-speed world of 64 bits and multi-core processors. To top it off, using the family pack licensing, I was able to upgrade every Mac in my house for $10 a machine. In short, I’m a fan of Snow Leopard.