Should you wait to buy a Mac until Mac OS X Leopard is released?

Apple StoreWalt Mossberg answers readers’ technology questions for The Wall Street Journal. A new one published today caught the eyes of MacDailyNews readers:

Question: I had been waiting to buy my first Macintosh until this spring, when Apple’s new Leopard operating system was supposed to be released. Now that Leopard has been delayed until October, I am wondering if a Mac I buy now will be compatible with the new system?

Mossberg: Leopard isn’t an entirely new operating system, but a major new version, or edition, of Apple’s Mac OS X operating system, which made its debut in 2001. It will replace the current version, which is called Tiger. As you noted, it was supposed to become available this spring, but now has been delayed until October. Apple will say only that “We’re designing Leopard to deliver full functionality and performance on the widest number of Macs possible, and upgrading a system to run on Leopard should be simple and smooth.” I believe that it is highly likely that Leopard will run with all its functions and with decent speed on any Mac purchased today, and in fact on any Mac purchased in the past 18 months or so, at the least. Compatibility could go back much further than that, though some old Mac models will certainly be incompatible, or will slow down unacceptably. Upgrading to new Apple operating system versions has generally been a very good experience in recent years, much better than similar Windows upgrades. If you intend to upgrade to Leopard, then the biggest downside to buying a Mac now may be financial, not technical. If Apple’s past practice prevails, Leopard is likely to cost $129 for any Mac purchased today. If you wait until you can buy a Mac with Leopard preloaded, you will save that extra cost.

Full article which also contains a Q&A about removing old versions of iPod software here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Island Girl” and “ForkBall” for the heads up.]
We’ve upgraded several Macs from Mac OS X Public Beta all the way on up to the current Mac OS X 10.4.9 with excellent results. If anything, old Macs tend to get faster with each successive Mac OS X release which is certainly something we can’t say about Microsoft Windows releases. We do recommend getting as much RAM as you can for your Mac as Mac OS X does love RAM with a passion.

83 Comments

  1. If it’s your first Mac, get to the nearest Apple Store ASAP and buy one!

    I’ve got an 18 month PowerBook G4 that is going to last me till Leopard is released, then it’s going on eBay and the proceeds of the sale are going towards a Core3Duo MacBook Extreme with Solid State Hard Drive.

  2. I would answer no to that question. Having said that however, I am actually waiting to upgrade. Why? Because my current G4 17″ is running great and I cannot find a legitimate excuse for upgrading. Dammit Apple, stop making such high quality laptops. I want one that breaks after two years so I have an excuse.

    Sad day in hell when I pray for power surges.

  3. Just bought a new white MB for my wife two days ago because her Toshiba (a great old machine) decided to die. I recovered it from death, but decied to buy a Mac anyways. I’m not going to despair and wait. And you know what. I don’t regret my decision even a bit. It runs super fast and is so great to work with. Setting it up made me giggle.

    If you really have to wait, wait till May for Santa Rosa.

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