Mossberg reviews Apple’s Mac OS X Snow Leopard: Easy to install, noticeably faster than Leopard

“I’ve been testing Snow Leopard on three Macs—an older desktop and a laptop of my own that I upgraded from Leopard, and a new MacBook Pro laptop Apple lent me for testing with Snow Leopard pre-installed. I found Snow Leopard easy to install, faster than Leopard, compatible with my most commonly used software and peripherals, and filled with a number of small, useful refinements and additions,” Walter S. Mossberg reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“One delightful change: Snow Leopard takes up less than half the room on a hard disk that Leopard did, and Apple says the average user who upgrades will free up about 7 gigabytes of space,” Mossberg reports. “On my 2008-vintage MacBook Pro, I gained back a whopping 14 gigabytes.”

MacDailyNews Note: Please see: Apple’s $29 Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard disc installs just fine on Tiger Macs – August 27, 2009

Mossberg continues, “Snow Leopard comes in one version, rather than the multiple operating system versions favored by Microsoft. And that single version handles hardware and software based on both a standard computer technology, called 32-bit, and a newer one, called 64-bit, which can use much more memory and is faster.”

“Both my desktop and laptop Macs converted to Snow Leopard quickly and smoothly, in about 45 minutes each. Unlike the upgrade process Microsoft is requiring to get to Windows 7 from Windows XP, the Snow Leopard upgrade preserves all your files, settings and programs where they previously existed, right down to your desktop icons and wallpaper,” Mossberg reports. “No disk wiping, file moving, or program re-installation is required.”

Mossberg reports, “Snow Leopard’s built-in programs, like Mail, the Safari browser, and the Finder—Apple’s equivalent of the Windows Explorer—have all been rewritten behind the scenes, so these and other specific features are now a lot quicker. I found that email folders stuffed with thousands of messages opened almost instantly, and copying files was noticeably faster, even when the destination was on the Internet or a network. The Safari 4 browser, already very fast with Leopard, is even speedier under Snow Leopard, especially on more complex Web sites that use a popular technology called Javascript.”

Mossberg reports, “Overall, I believe Snow Leopard will help keep the Mac an appealing choice for computer buyers, and I can recommend it to existing Mac owners seeking more speed and disk space, or wanting to more easily use Exchange. But I don’t consider Snow Leopard a must-have upgrade for average consumers. It’s more of a nice-to-have upgrade. If you’re happy with Leopard, there’s no reason to rush out and get Snow Leopard.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Uncle Walt’s conclusion is, with all due respect, wishy-washy poppycock that comes across as tacked-on “proof of objectivity.” Which mythical “average consumers” don’t need more speed and disk space plus all of these enhancements and refinements for a paltry $29?

If you have an Intel-powered Mac and your apps are all set, upgrade to Snow Leopard. Period.


  1. If you can’t find fault with something, no matter how small and insignificant, you’re not a consumer or reviewer of note. Always, ALWAYS, start with a negative opinion of something or someone; the more jaded your observations are thereof, the “loftier” your standards must be.

    It’s a rule. Follow it: The harder you are to please, the more respected you will become.

  2. Believe it or not, there are plenty of folks in this country for whom $29 is not “paltry”- that is a childish thing to say. Plenty of children went to school hungry this morning…

    Walt always writes for his self-professed “average non-techie consumer” audience- and they always want a cost-benefit analysis. His bottom line is correct: Leopard works great as is.

    For those who need to worry about such things, SL is a luxury, not a necessity.

  3. dance dance Monkeyboy,

    Save the bleeding heart bullshit for the next Obama rally.

    If you don’t have $29 or can’t afford to feed your kids, you have no business owning a Mac in the first place.

  4. @ Superior Being

    You took the words out of my mouth. If a person has an Intel Mac, then it is highly unlikely that their kids are going to school hungry, unless they are a shitty parent.

    It’s only 29 freakin’ bucks!!!

  5. Jaygee:

    I have no doubt it actually will. SL’s performance superiority should be most apparent on older machines, where Leopard was taxing their resources. I would suggest trying it. If you have a spare external disk, back up your MB and upgrade to SL. Test it for a few days (although I think you should notice the difference within first 15 minutes). If you still don’t think it’s worth $30, you can always restore from the backup. If you are worried about whether they’ll give you your money back after opening the software package, you could even download a SL retail disc image through “alternative” means and, if you are satisfied, later buy a legitimate copy (for good karma).

  6. Is the $29 disc an upgrade disk or a full-install disc? I want to start from scratch with a new blank hard drive and reinstall everything over from the old disk (I’ve installed and uninstalled a lot of junk over the years). They’ve always been full-install disks, but now I’m starting to wonder.

  7. It’s not the $29.

    For me, I have a Core Duo MacBook Pro. I’ll see space savings and the few new features, but less of a speed increase than the Core 2 Duo users. I’ve run Snow Leopard on my back up Mac, and it’s certainly nice, and worth the $29.

    However, in terms of rushing to install it on my primary Mac, and other Macs that I use/manage, it’s worth waiting until all of the apps I need are compatible.

    Not to mention, it’s sometimes worth waiting to see if any issues come up, especially with apps that are thought to be 100% compatible.

    It’s just a matter of waiting a couple of weeks or so.

  8. @Predrag,

    “SL’s performance superiority should be most apparent on older machines”

    Sorry, but you’re wrong about this. An early Intel Core based Mac or Core Duo based Mac will not have some of the optimizations that a Core 2 Duo will have. Likewise, the original Intel Macs don’t have the specific GPUs to take advantage of other improvements found in Snow Leopard.

    You’ll still see an improvement with Snow Leopard, but not as much as a newer Mac.

    The way I look at it is like this…I tested my MacBook Pro Core Duo and there’s an improvement…it’s noticeable. It’s probably going to result in me being willing to add another 6 months before upgrading to a newer Mac since it now feels faster.

    However, the gap between my Mac and a newer Mac just got significantly wider. Within the next year, many apps may take advantage of what newer Macs are capable of and thus result in higher demands in performance.

  9. Superior Being said: “dance dance Monkeyboy,

    Save the bleeding heart bullshit for the next Obama rally.

    If you don’t have $29 or can’t afford to feed your kids, you have no business owning a Mac in the first place.

    SP, While I don’t disagree with your central point, your callousness and mean spirited tone are typical of the self absorbed mindset of which you are a member.

    And based on your comment, I can tell that, while you might be a being, you’re certainly not superior.

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