Now that we’ve had a chance to really sit down and experience Apple’s newest cat, its time to share our initial reactions to OSX 10.6 – Snow Leopard. Right off the bat, its fast. Very fast. A clean installation took about 13 minutes from start to finish, which is a world of difference from the hour or so that a clean 10.5 Leopard install takes. This has been potentially attributed to the significant reduction in the size of core applications (Snow Leopard’s Mail application is under 100mb, whereas 10.5′s was nearly 300mb). Other theories involve a removal of PowerPC support freeing up space and speeding up the install time. Other than the actual time involved, there are very few differences between the 10.5 and 10.6 installation processes in the current build.
Once you’re up and running, it feels very similar to Leopard. I don’t know how much this will change through Snow Leopard’s development, but don’t expect a terribly different interface. The subtle changes to the current Aqua definitely look good though. The biggest changes are under the hood. Snow Leopard is fast. Very fast. Like, surprisingly fast. From boot times to general application usage, Snow Leopard was noticeably quicker than Leopard when using the same system. Apple and 3rd party applications alike, they all launched faster and performed smoother. I’m sure this can be attributed to the new 64-bit architecture, but its amazing how much of a difference it really is.
But I digress, as I’m sure you’re bored of all this text – lets go on to the good stuff! The pictures:
About This Mac:
Nothing to see here, just the standard “About This Mac” screen. Click for full screen.
This was very interesting, though probably evident by the quick install. By default, the System folder of Snow Leopard is nearly 1 gigabyte smaller than that of Leopard (10.5). Optimizations have clearly been made.
Now on to the software changes. Right off the bat, there were new (unreleased) versions of many of Apple’s “staple” softwares. Quicktime, Bootcamp, Mail, even the Address Book have seen updates. Address Book’s most notable feature is the Exchange Server integration so happily boasted by Apple at WWDC.
By replacing the in-your-face popup window that was Leopard’s software update with the preferences panel, they took everything I hated and made it into a cleaner, friendlier interface. Bravo!
Boot Camp 3 Beta
This one was an “expected surprise”. I haven’t had a chance to play with the new drivers, but the current version 2 is already so polished that I doubt any major changes have been made.
32 Bit Mode
This is most likely a developer mode “feature” rather than a poor interface decision, but many of the system preference options require “restarting” into 32 bit mode. This is instantaneous (it simply closes system preferences 64 bit and opens 32 bit) but annoying.
Highly trumpeted, but nice to see anyways. Lacking a live Exchange Server, this feature went untested.
I was expecting to see the highly anticipated Quicktime X, but was instead greeted with the unreleased Quicktime 7.6
Thanks for looking! This post will be updated continually as our experience with Snow Leopard progresses. As of June 25th, we have experienced 0 crashes.