OS X Snow Leopard shows signs of becoming Apple’s XP

“One in four Macs now run OS X Mountain Lion, Apple’s newest operating system, data released last week showed,” Gregg Keizer reports for Computerworld. “But there are signs that OS X Snow Leopard, an edition shipped in August 2009, may be the Mac’s equivalent of Microsoft’s Windows XP, an OS that stubbornly refuses to go away.”

“Mountain Lion, also known as OS X 10.8, accounted for 25.8% of all Mac operating systems during October, according to statistics from metrics company Net Applications. That represented a three-and-a-half-point increase over September,” Keizer reports. “Apple issued Mountain Lion on July 25… While Apple customers running Snow Leopard can upgrade to Mountain Lion — assuming their Macs meet the requirements — they have done so in far fewer numbers than those who relied on Lion. Since Mountain Lion’s debut, Snow Leopard has lost 6.6 percentage points, a drop of 17%. Meanwhile, Lion has lost more than double that — 15.6 percentage points — falling 33% since July.”

Keizer reports, “Snow Leopard is no Windows XP — for one thing it’s less than one-third as old as that 11-year-old OS from Microsoft — but the comparisons, what with both posting slow-but-steady declines and their makers’ extending security support, are intriguing. It’s unclear why Mac users are holding on to Snow Leopard, but one factor may be that it is the newest Apple OS able to run applications written for the PowerPC processor, the Apple/IBM/Motorola-designed CPU used by Macs before Apple announced a switch to Intel in 2005.”

Read more in the full article here.


    1. I think you can add “While Apple customers running Snow Leopard can upgrade to Mountain Lion — assuming their Macs meet the requirements…” to the “Duh!” as well.

      1. right, this report fails to take in to account that that last 2 OS upgrades cut out a set of older machines, which will impact these types of numbers as macs tend to have longer lifespans that regular pcs.

        1. … and MacBook, but kept Snow Leopard on my wife’s iMac. An upgrade – if that’s the correct term – was possible, but she’s averse to change. You have to show her a real benefit to get her to switch. With the PC-to-Mac, it had to do with being able to see the screen more easily. Most OSs she never even noticed. Reversing the scrolling direction? That would be noticed!
          SL is a good OS. It also runs the older applications we use for so many things – if only StD, the best Solitaire EVER!

    2. I run Mountain Lion on my MacBook Air. I run Snow Leopard on my MacBook Pro. Why?
      – I still use Safari 5.0.5, because Apple broke AutoFill and RSS in newer versions of Safari.
      – Apple broke the find function in Lion/Mountain Lion Mail.
      – I hate Lion/Mountain Lion Calendar & Address Book.
      – I still occasionally use PowerPC apps like the long discarded Adobe ImageReady CS2.
      – My server is a Power Mac G5 and it runs an iPhoto 8 database which I can still use under Snow Leopard, but not Lion/Mountain Lion.

      I am still incredibly pissed that Apple killed a MobileMe service that was working perfectly amongst all of my machines and replaced it with an iCloud service that sucks donkey parts.

      1. Agree Snow Leopard is their best OS in recent years. It’s lean and the Lion’s seem to have alot of annoying little bugs.

        For work- I use Snow Leopard because the Lions refuse to print on my Canon 1140 laser printer.

        At home Mountain Lion suddenly broke my MacBook pro to sleep when connect to my Apple studio display.

        Some nice features on Lion but alot of little stuff does not work like it use to. Apple is starting to waver on the desktop. Maybe because it is becoming second fiddle to iOS.

  1. My latest version of Snow Leopard dated 2011, not 2009. It surely is still running very well in my 2010 Core i7 MBP.
    I have no plan to update. I don’t like what I hear about features of Mountain Lion.

    1. It’s not the obvious major features. It’s all the little things that you won’t be able to do without once you get used to them. Plus, Mountain Lion is one solid OS at the core. Much more solid and stable than Snow Leopard, from my experience as a technician.

      1. …that may be so, but until things like “SAVE AS” gets FIXED (and fixed correctly), I don’t personally consider Mt. Lion ready for prime time.

        In the meantime, another factor to consider is that Snow Leopard was the last version of OS for which one can easily buy an Install DVD. Not a coincidence IMO.


        1. Huh? I have heard this story but am confused. I have mountain lion. When I heard the story, I immediately went to my menu…

          Well… I see a Save As option everywhere!

          Which applications don’t have it?

  2. Maybe the parents have upgraded their computers and the kids are using it for homework. The computers are still quite usable for most with Snow Leopard. As the hardware is broken or replaced, the numbers will drop.

      1. • Apple iSync cannot access Address Book.
        • BIAS Peak cannot access audio input
        • Roxio Toast CD Spin Doctor cannot access audio input
        • Adobe Photoshop cannot access a TWAIN scanner
        • Apple Mail and Safari no longer support RSS
        • Apple Mail no longer indicates which email accounts it is logging into

          1. Mt. Lion kills TWAIN … hadn’t heard that – – thanks for the warning.

            Looks like another dual-boot machine is in the making. Perhaps I’ll just go back to Windows for it instead of multiple flavors of increasingly less capable OS X.

            …but golly! I’ll probably be able to post something to Facebook in one click instead of three!


        1. Bryan,

          iSync doesn’t exist anymore.
          BIAS went under 5 mos. ago. They’ll never have an update to fix that issue. You’ll need to look for another application. Maybe not right now, but you will.

    1. Agreed. Same situation here. I could function without those older apps I’m long been used to- Fetch, WindowShade etc- but why should I? Staying true to my old pal SnowLeopard thanks!

  3. All new macs will only come with Mountain Lion (or whatever replaces it) so the stats will always go up. If they keep releasing every year to 18 months then there’s always going to be fragmentation, it only takes single digit levels of usage across a few generations and it begins to add up. A lot of slightly older machines that are still perfectly usable will only run Snow Leopard.

    It’s not really the same situation at all.

    We have work machines that are about 8 years old, and are beginning to show their age for what we use them for, but not to the extent that we have to buy new machines. Windows itself is not enough reason to buy a new machine until we need to, and frankly OS X isn’t either.

    When Snow Leopard is ten years old and accounts for a large install base, then maybe it will be comparable, but it’s only a few years old.

  4. I only wish this was true. While I can install XP on new hardware, I can’t install Snow Leopard on new Macs. IF I could I would. Lion/Mountain Lion are not as flexible as Snow Leopard. iCloud is, for the most part, a worthless feature when compared to iDisk or DropBox.

    I wish/hope that some sane mind at Apple will at least allow us to run Snow Leopard as a virtual machine.

    Unhappy with the state of OsX…. But compared to Windows 8, Mountain Lion wins.

  5. with iOS out there i have lost most interest in desktop OS’s. the only reason you need to connect an iphone or ipad to a computer is to copy movies over that you have yourself. like some of my digital copies from blu rays.

    my wife’s iphone never touches a computer, no need to. hence no real reason to worry about upgrading a computer or a computer OS

  6. Save As…

    I haven’t (and won’t) upgrade my parents beyond Snow Leopard mainly because of the removal of Save As…

    My folks are in their mid-70s and have been using Macs since 1984. They are both reasonably proficient users. But the open, edit, save as cycle — as well as the open, edit and discard without saving cycle — is well engrained. I simply don’t want the support calls from my parents: WHAT HAPPENED TO MY ORIGINAL?!?

    My father is a photographer and will have a dozen copies of a photo that he’s tweaked in different ways in Photoshop. The new paradigm would destroy his established work flow. Could he learn the new? Sure. But is it worth his time and mine to do so? Not at this point. Snow Leopard is more than adequate for his use.

    1. I think you sell them short, when it first came out, sure.

      Now it is well documented and easy to find decent write-up comparing and explaining the “new way”.

      If they have been using computers since 1984, they should be able to grasp it.

      1. As I said — Could he learn the new way? Sure.

        It’s just not worth the time and effort.

        I tried to sell him on Pixelmator a while ago. He wasn’t having it. Photoshop was too well engrained. Could he have learned Pixelmator? Sure. But he would rather spend his time with his photography than learning something new — so he upgraded his Photoshop instead.

        The fact is that there is no overwhelming reason to go to the effort. Lion and Mountain Lion don’t offer him anything he wants in exchange for the effort of retooling his workflow.

    2. @kirkgray

      “Save As” is specific to apps, not the operating system. In fact, even though Apple chose to display the “Duplicate” command as the default in iWorks Apps, you can always press the Option key to see “Save As” in all it’s glory.

  7. I purchased two Intel processor based MBP in 2006 and they’re still very capable machines. I can’t upgrade them beyond Snow Leopard but I refuse to throw them out.

  8. It’s about compatibility and learning curve space to me.

    I’ve had so much bloody trouble with Adobe products after upgrades that I go really slow with upgrades, theirs and Apples. This gives Adobe lots of time to get their act together, and gives Apple time to work out the inevitable bugs, which makes for a smoother transition.

    I also like to pick a period when I have the time to deal with any technical issues that may come up, and the mental space to adjust to the changes without losing productivity.

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