Should You Upgrade to Snow Leopard (OSX 10.6)?

Should you upgrade your Mac to OSX 10.6 - otherwise known as Snow Leopard?
I've been asked that a lot by my clients and I want to provide some guidance with the issue of this blog post.

Normally I encourage my clients to apply any update that comes through as they usually fix issues that need to be addressed. However, a couple of the past updates (10.5.6 & 10.5.7), have actually caused more problems than they fixed. These have all been eliminated by the 10.5.8 update, but let's just say I've become a bit gun shy to suggest doing any updates that comes along since. I like to follow the Apple forums and think tanks to see if an update is better off left undone - at least in the first few days.

Having adopted this philosophy, I have been advising my clients to hold off on this Snow Leopard update. Especially given the fact that this update is considered more of a maintenance upgrade than one that would bring new features to the table.

Having said that though, it's important to know that this update, while not feature rich on the surface, has undergone a huge change under the hood. With this update, support for the PowerPC processor has been dropped. If you own a Mac with a PowerPC CPU, you will not be able to apply this update. That's what makes this upgrade so dramatic.

Note: [To find out what type of processor you have, just go up to the apple menu in the upper left hand corner of your screen and click your mouse. Drop down and select the menu item "About This Mac". The window that pops up will tell you the type of processor you have in your machine.]

Starting with Snow Leopard, only Intel processors are being supported. OSX 10.6 has been stripped of all branch logic used to control both the Intel and PowerPC processors. With prior operating systems, every time your computer needed to perform a function, first it had to determine what type of processor it was dealing with and then perform the instructions unique to that processor.

As you might imagine, this decision making process caused delays, introduced possible places for bugs to occur, and made the operating system take up a lot of space on your computer.

With the elimination of branch logic code in this new OS, things are suppose to work faster and take up less space. The operating system should be easier to maintain and improve upon as well because it won't be necessary to write two different pieces of machine instructions (code) for both types of processors.

I completely agree with the theory here but as I said, was just a bit apprehensive to jump into the deep end of the pool without first finding out if there were any sharks in the water.

So now that the new version of Leopard has been out for almost a week now, I have to say that Apple has done a remarkable job of creating a new operating system release. I've been following a number of high profile forums and blogs and this upgrade seems to be doing very well with very few problems. Those issues that have surfaced are very rare and most users should not experience any real calamities.

In addition, you should see some added speed improvements and you should also see some recovery of disk space as the new operating system takes up less of your hard drive.

As I mentioned earlier, if you have a PowerPC based Mac, this update will not work for you and you will have to stay at 10.5.x until you decide to purchase a new machine. Those of you on an Intel machine can feel free to upgrade if you want, but there again, it's not absolutely necessary as you will not gain any significant features.

The only reason I see to upgrade at this time is to gain some speed improvements, recover a bit of disk space, and poise yourself for the next round of improvements. Another good reason is that Apple has made the pain of upgrading pretty insignificant - the charge is only $29 which is amazingly cheap. In fact, Amazon.com has even gone one better. They have reduced the price to only $25 and included free shipping if you are willing to wait for normal speed shipping. This is a fantastic offer and you can learn more about it by click on the following link:

Snow Leopard Update Offer

So to answer the question posed at the beginning of this post: "Should You Upgrade to Snow Leopard (OSX 10.6)?" My answer is YES!!
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