Imminent Arrival of Apple's Snow Leopard

By Graham K. Rogers


[Since I wrote the text below, Apple has announced the release of Snow Leopard which is to be available on Friday 28 August. It may be pre-ordered from the online store.]

Snow Leopard on a Mac
Courtesy of Apple

When writing about Apple I try not to insert too much speculation. To set the scene I need to play with a couple of rumours before discussing the next version of OS X: 10.6, Snow Leopard.

Serlet In early August, there was a rumour of a special event for the week after September 7, Labor Day in the US: a time when Apple often rolls out significant products. This is unlikely to have Snow Leopard as the main event. Favourites are iPod updates; an iMac refresh; or that mysterious tablet that the rumours tell us is coming: the latest had it as the "iPad".

A few days earlier, we heard that Snow Leopard had reached the "Gold Master" stage. It is from this version that the disks are burned and Apple personnel are trained. At the Developers' Conference in June, Bertrand Serlet said September. Although some rumours now suggest it could be before, perhaps this Friday, 28 August. I am sure that is too early as no announcements had been made up to the time I sent this to the Database and I would expect 18 or 25 September to be more likely.

To add to this, Amazon has changed the publication date of Wiley's Snow Leopard Bible to 31 August; and MacRumors had screen shots of what purported to be the Snow Leopard packaging.

As yet, I have no knowledge on pricing for Thai users. I am told we will only know that at the time of the launch, which is also not known at this time. As the US price is known to be $29 for the upgrade, we may guess that after taxes and VAT, the price to consumers in Thailand may be about 1,100 baht [actually 1,190 baht].

There is only one version of OS X and the Snow Leopard upgrade has brought out an unusual modesty from Apple who suggest there are not many new features. However, the new level of agility we may expect is a major bonus in itself. There are known to be differences in the size of the installation which is to be much slimmer; the speed at which 10.6 will work; and the degree of consolidation that has occurred. It is expected to have a smaller footprint which I will be especially thankful for as I am running out of disk-space on my main computer.

As with the last four updates 10.2 up to 10.5 I will be installing this as soon as I can get my hands on it. Apart from a single problem which was found to be caused by a plugin for Safari that had not been updated (not all developers are up to speed), all updates have been problem-free for me. In that one case, I switched to Firefox temporarily until the problem was identified: deleting the plugin cured the problem.

Snow Leopard will only install on Macs with Intel processors. Those with the Core 2 Duo get most benefits from the graphics upgrades. There are known to be changes to QuickTime, with a new version called QuickTime X (Ten). It will not be installed unless wanted; but it will install if QT Pro is already being used.

Some people with little knowledge of Apple products warn that people should never buy version one. This is at best disingenuous, but some have to justify their existence. It is not luck. Or bad luck. Part of the smoothness is down to preparation. I also repeat the warning that others in Database have written many times before: back up your data. Do not leave anything to chance.

Some users believe their disks are in good condition and are offended when it is suggested this may not be the case: as with backing up, I am saddened by those who ask for advice then ignore it. It is a good idea to check the disk before installing such an update. However, the Snow Leopard installation apparently has among its armoury of weapons a method of disabling bad applications. It is also expected that the disk will install most of the components onto the hard disk, thus speeding up the installation.

At a minimum, I would urge OS X users to check the disk with the grey disks that came with the computer or with a Leopard install disk. Start the computer with the disk, select the language, then enter the Utility menu where you will find Disk Utility. If it finds anything wrong, other software can be used. For serious repairs(and periodic checks) I use Alsoft's Disk Warrior. Others favour Micromat's TechTool Pro. Users should buy one of these before, not after, problems appear. If there are indications that the hard disk is not in a good state, upgrading is not recommended.

OS X, 10.6, Snow Leopard is an update that I am keen to install so I may make use of its benefits at the earliest stage.

Snow Leopard on a Mac
Courtesy of Apple


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