Mac OS X Leopard is scheduled to be released Friday, October 26th in another big Apple event. CEO Steve Jobs says, Leopard “is the best upgrade we’ve ever released.”
One of my co-workers, a Windows-user recently converted to an Intel Mac running OS X Tiger asked, “Why should I spend $129 and upgrade to Leopard? What I have now works great.”
Many traditional Mac users upgrade from one version to a new version to find out what is new and cool. Steve Jobs’ Reality Distortion Field™ must work on us because we blindly plan to upgrade without giving much thought to why?
Why should Mac users upgrade to Leopard? That’s actually a good question. As my friend said, Tiger runs fine. I’ll admit, Tiger running on my Macs has been the best version of OS X yet, though no more stable than the final version of OS X Panther.
Asking a dozen follow-up questions won’t diminish my desire to upgrade to Leopard. I’m looking forward to it. But the reality is, there’s nothing wrong with running Tiger. It’s dependable, stable, secure, fast, and whatever runs on Tiger will probably run acceptably well on Leopard, so why spend the money?
OS X Leopard is not likely to be more stable, more secure, more dependable, or easier to use. In fact, the early versions of Leopard, as it was with Tiger and Panther before it, will probably be a bit less stable, therefore, less dependable. There’s a bunch of new features to get used to, so it won’t be easier to use.
So, why go through the hassle of upgrading Mac OS X Tiger to Leopard? The upgrade process is always fraught with a degree of frustration, anxiety, and a gotcha or two. I usually clone my Mac to an external hard drive, wipe the Mac’s drive clean, then install the latest OS X version and re-install all my applications and utilities.
To be fair to Apple’s efforts over the past few years to improve the Mac, OS X Leopard does come with some exciting new features, but, after thinking about it, I can safely say that none of them will make me more productive or efficient, none of them make the Mac more stable, secure, or dependable.
So, by upgrading to Leopard am I doing nothing more than buying high calorie eye candy?
OS X Leopard comes with a new “unified” look. Gone are the irritating mixtures of brushed aluminum, platinum plastic and whatever else Apple threw together to form Tiger’s look. The Desktop is about the same. The Finder is improved but still looks the same. I’m using Path Finder these days. It does more than the Finder is Tiger
The Quick Look feature of Leopard is cool, though Path Finder has something similar already. I’ve been running Safari 3.x for a few months and love it, so nothing new there. Boot Camp becomes feature complete and official, so if you’re running Tiger and Boot Camp on an Intel Mac you should upgrade to Leopard.
The really impressive eye candy comes in the form of Leopard’s Spaces and Time Machine. Spaces is a collection of virtual desktops. That feature has been available for years with add-on utilities and offers no additional productivity or efficiency to using a Mac. It’s merely a different way of organizing and using Mac applications and documents. Again, eye candy.
Mail is upgraded with more features for designing email messages. iChat expands to offer all kinds of candy coated goodness. None of the basic new features offers much that will make the Mac a better place. More fun? Maybe. But not necessarily a better computing experience.
Of great interest to many Mac users is Time Machine, Apple’s new way of backing up files, and retrieving lost files. Backing up is nothing new, but Apple brings it mainstream. Make sure to upgrade to a larger hard drive, too. You’ll need it. I already have a very good backup system in place that works well, so Time Machine may be nothing more than a colorful curiosity.
The original question is valid. Why should a Mac user upgrade to OS X Leopard? What are the advantages beyond colorful and tasty eye candy, and chewy goodness of something new and delicisious? Is it nutritious? Yes, I’ll upgrade to Leopard. All of us at Mac360 look forward to it. It’s what we do. We’ll even report back to you our experience, trials and travails. But the question still stands: Is it worth it? That brings up another question: How do you do a Mac upgrade? What’s your process and step-by-step?
OMT – Kate tells me to remind everyone that if you upgrade from Tiger to OS X Leopard and plan to buy your upgrade through Amazon, then consider using the Mac360 Store to make your purchase online. End. Shameless. Plug.