I have a confession to make: I upgraded to Snow Leopard the day after it was released. I know, I know… it’s risky to upgrade your OS so soon after the software comes out. It was impetuous and dangerous and I hope these actions won’t influence any young impressionable computer users. (I won’t mention the fact that I carried out this madness while several hundred miles away from home, in a foreign capital!).
So I’ve been using the new system on my Macbook Pro daily since, and now that I finally have the time, though it would be useful to note my experiences to date. Fittingly, I’ve divided these into categories: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
The speed. Seriously. There is a noticeable improvement in the start-up speed of my Macbook Pro. Also, starting up from sleep is amazingly snappy. Locating and signing on to a wifi signal is much, much quicker. So the overall experience is faster and no computer user would ever complain about that.
Similarly welcome was the recovered hard disk space. After re-starting my laptop for the first time after installation, I noticed I had almost 20GB of extra space. For a media junkie like me, this was a god-send.
It’s also worth pointing out that the system upgrade only cost €30. A bargain if ever there was, especially in these more difficult economic times. Well done Apple.
Snow leopard was in development for quite some time, I understand. So it was a bit of a shock when I read the rather Microsoft-like list of software that would no longer work with the new upgraded software. This wasn’t the Apple I remember. However, I didn’t notice anything on there that was a deal-breaker. I obviously didn’t read it closely enough, as I later discovered that a key piece of my software arsenal was now as dead as a dodo.
My stats package (the unbelievably dull SPSS), which I use for my doctoral research projects, would no longer start. I remember my reaction clearly: “You’re fucking kidding me”. Indeed. Quite the shocker. This meant that I missed a deadline for a major conference proposal – not an exaggeration, I was in Madrid, far from the potential assistance I might find on my University campus.
I’m not sure who to blame here. I mean, though not as widespread or popular as ‘Word’ or ‘Skype’, SPSS is used worldwide by hundreds of thousands of students and researchers. Is there a complete lack of communication between Apple and external software developers? Or did SPSS not bother to issue any kind of updates, hoping all users would upgrade to the new version of their system? Either way, I was unhappy to say the lease. Bad Apple. (Wags finger).
Amazingly, it was several days after my return home before I needed to print anything (you can tell where this is going). And before I needed to, my significant other did. This fact was brought to my attention by the now-familiar utterance: “You’re fucking kidding me”. Our printer (by no means a dinosaur) no longer worked with Snow Leopard. Again I have to ask: didn’t Apple provide updates to the producers of Apple peripherals during the development of Snow Leopard? The help from our printer’s manufacturer was next to non-existant. A simple message on their website explained they were “looking into providing new drivers” for the printer. Very nice of them, I must say.
In summary, Apple have released a fantastic upgrade to their OS, may of whose benefits I’ve yet to spot – there are simply so many of them. It’s a snappy, beautiful computing experience. On the other hand, it’s been the most disruptive upgrade I’ve had in many, many years. It smacks of being badly planned and that’s not something I associate with Apple. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way and would suggest that Apple invest more time in ensuring upgrades are a smoother experience for users with regard to third-party software and peripheral compatibility.
My advice? Read carefully before upgrading your Mac – don’t wait until afterwards to find out a key piece of your toolkit is now useless. Other advice? Drink plenty of fluids, don’t spend too long in direct sunlight and don’t wear horizontal stripes if you’re overweight.