Amazon promised me that my copy of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard (I type it out in full here only to accentuate the ludicrous number of characters it occupies) would, thanks to two-day shipping, arrive today, and indeed it did, though at the rather late-ish hour of 6:30 pm. Still, there was time to install it and offer all of you a few first impressions.
Upon starting the install process, I was given the optimistic prediction of a 45 minute install, which number quickly leapt up to 1:04. In the end, the installation actually took 50 minutes, splitting the difference nicely.
There was a moment of pure panic during the installation process when, after what I took to be one of several mid-install reboots, my monitor remained stubbornly blank. What was I supposed to do in this situation? Restart the computer manually in its mangled half-updated state? Thankfully, it turned out that the monitor had just decided to turn itself off for some mysterious reason, and the computer was chugging along unimpeded.
I knew that Rosetta would need to be reinstalled, but I was a bit surprised to find that there was no option to do so during the install process. But it installed quickly when first needed in practice after installation.
Another moment of panic came when I first started Mail, as I was told that my mailboxes would need to be updated. I've been keeping mail filed locally on my hard drive since I first installed the OS X Public Beta in 2000; would this process, not designed for email pack rats like me, take hours? In fact, it completed in less than three minutes, to my great relief.
As promised, upon restarting, I found that a significant chunk of hard drive space had been freed -- more than 15 GB.
None of the applications that I use regularly and find crucial had any difficulty with the transition -- not even such creaky standbys as Quicken 2002 and Photoshop CS.
What about those promised performance enhancement? Well, absent rigorous quantitative testing, I'm not really qualified to say. Some things certainly seem snappier, which I realize is a maddeningly vague verb often abused in these kinds of reviews, but my relatively new MacBook hadn't had time to seem sluggish to me in the first place. One place I did notice definite improvements was in Mail, where the indexes of some of those aforementioned enormous mailboxes now loaded much more quickly.
The biggest negative surprise? On Firefox (my primary browser), the fonts for many if not most Web pages are suddenly different, and rarely for the better. A weird bug, or a secret plot by Apple to force me to Safari? I'll see what I can find out!
Obviously, I'm going to be spending a lot of time with this new OS over the next week or so, so, barring some major excitement/disaster in the world o' Apple, expect at least another couple Snow Leopard posts on this blog over the next few days.