Monday, November 12, 2012

Snow Leopard Hanging Around

Gregg Keizer:

For all its gains since then, however, Mountain Lion has not kept pace with the uptake trajectory of Apple’s last two editions, OS X 10.6, aka Snow Leopard, and OS X 10.7, better known as Lion.

Mountain Lion adoption has been quick for my customers, with slightly more than 50% of SpamSieve users now running 10.8. (25% are on 10.7, 19% are on 10.6, and less than 4% are on 10.5.)

Mountain Lion’s gains were again more at the expense of Lion than Snow Leopard, although the gap narrowed in October.

[…]

Snow Leopard has lost more than half its share of all Macs since Lion’s appearance over a year ago, but so far it has been resistant to Mountain Lion’s call to upgrade. In each of the last two months, for example, Snow Leopard’s losses were less than its 12-month average.

The chart of the Net Applications data is striking. It’s also interesting that a higher percentage of Macs are running Snow Leopard now than were when Snow Leopard was as old as Mountain Lion currently is. I’m not sure what’s behind this, although people seemed to agree last week when I noted Snow Leopard’s reliability.

15 Comments

I think Apple's been overly agressive in terms of which systems can get upgraded as well.

I have 3 Macs in my house on 10.6 (iMac, Mac Mini, Macbook) with no plans to upgrade. This setup has been working fine for me for years and there is little in 10.7 or 10.8 that makes me want to upgrade. I think the primary attractor is iCloud syncing of contacts and calendars, but I'm kind of reluctant to tie myself to iCloud versus other solutions that are more open.

Whole article seems specious to me: maybe they should wait for SL to have been obsoleted for more than 15 months before decreeing it Apple's XP. An interesting aspect though is what becomes of Apple's rule of supporting only the previous major OS release with security updates, as that seems unsustainable to me given a yearly OS release cycle: all these SL machine measured by Net Applications (so these are Internet connected machines, not an off-the-net install base) are technically no longer updated for security and potentially insecure.

(personally I don't have much of a choice but update if I want to keep developing for my personal iPhone, which I keep up to date with iOS releases: Xcode cannot target iOS devices running a version of iOS it does not know about, and Xcode tends not to support superseded Mac OS X releases for very long)

Woo-hoo!

Assuming that data is correct, Snowy is now the most popular version of OS X. It seems as if, perhaps, folks correctly didn't believe the hype.

My favorite two pullquotes from the article.

Many Mac users dinged Lion for being less stable and reliable than Snow Leopard, and said they would stick with the older OS.

and

"I think [Snow Leopard] was the best OS they've made so far and I have no desire to turn my laptop into a smartphone by installing Mountain Lion"

(I wouldn't have phrased the second pullquote quite in those terms, but specious smartphone analogies aside, I agree with the essential sentiment.)

Personally, I happily stick with Snowy due to a combination of stability and the fact that it's pretty clearly the best OS version for actually GTD in OS X. I'll take a fantastic OS over desirable new hardware every day of the week.

And as a note to devs: I've happily been able to recently purchase paid upgrades to Little Snitch and Arq, since their devs have been wise and diligent enough to keep Snowy support in their new products. I like buying new software from vendors willing to support the best version of OS X we'll ever see.

10.8 isn't supported for my MacPro and 10.7 is no longer available on the appstore so I couldn't even upgrade a little bit if I wanted to, which I don't as 10.7 has nothing I need. Heck, I never even used features that were new in 10.5 (I think) like spaces, bootcamp and dashboard. The only significant new feature from recent OS's I love is TimeMachine.

I have been waiting to buy a new Pro for 2 years now and I hope Apple pulls of a real upgrade in early 2013. I guess I'll see first-hand what little I have missed then. I would like iCal to iCloud syncing, currently that's a mess with my iPad and iPhone syncing up nicely and my desktop's iCal just ignored.

@Pierre I would ignore the headline, which even the article admits is not really a good comparison.

Continuing on that note to devs:

Especially good to see Literature & Latte producing a completely new app with Snowy compatibility. I'll buy a license for Scapple when gets out of pre-release beta.

Wasn’t Snow Leopard the release in which Apple paused feature development in order to prioritise bug fixes and optimisations? That would explain why it is beloved the way it is, no?

Personally, I got a 2012 vintage Air, which came loaded with 10.7 and I’m glad that I got it soon enough to duck 10.8. By all I’ve been able to find, 10.8 seems like a downgrade. In fact, by all talk I read now it sounds very much like I should have tried to find a way to wind it back to 10.6 when I got the machine; now that I’ve set myself up on it I can’t be bothered to go through it all from scratch. The 10.6–10.7 transition seems a small enough step back compared to the 10.7–10.8 one that this isn’t bugging me badly, though.

If and when I wipe the machine at some point I may seriously consider trying to find 10.6 to put on it.

"Personally, I got a 2012 vintage Air, which came loaded with 10.7 ... If and when I wipe the machine at some point I may seriously consider trying to find 10.6 to put on it."

Your ability to do so depends what model it actually is.

If it's a "Late 2010" air, you can put Snowy on it if you can locate the appropriate install disk, which may or may not prove tricky. If it's a "Mid 2011" air or later, you can not run Snowy on it.

You can figure out which model it is by looking up your serial number on various websites set up for this, or by downloading the excellent Freeware app, Mactracker.

(If it's the "Mid 2011", you might be able to do some very tricky hackery to put a few Lion kexts necessary to the new hardware onto the machine and run them under Snowy, but I'm unaware of the specific procedure, which may well not even exist.)

"now that I’ve set myself up on (Lion) I can’t be bothered to go through it all from scratch (to get to Snowy)."

If you've got some basic Mac-fu, it shouldn't be too tough. A one day job at the absolute worst. Just clone your drive, and install Snowy from scratch. Apple's Migration Assistant application may be able to migrate your apps and users backwards from a newer OS, and if so, it'll be quick 'n' easy. If Migration Assistant balks, it'll take less than a full day to do it manually, but it'll well be the time worth spent if you'd prefer Snowy, as most sane users would.

"Personally, I got a 2012 vintage Air, which came loaded with 10.7 and I’m glad that I got it soon enough to duck 10.8."

Oddly, as someone happy to be sticking with Snowy as long as I can possibly can - for several years if possible - I'd likely upgrade from Lion to ML if I had a machine that couldn't run Snowy. I don't have personal experience other than playing around with post-Snowy in VM's, but from what I've read in many places, ML seems to clean up some Lion bugs and be a better general experience than Lion. Others with genuine post-Snowy could probably give you a far more reliable opinion on the matter than me, however.

"Whole article seems specious to me: maybe they should wait for SL to have been obsoleted for more than 15 months before decreeing it Apple's XP. An interesting aspect though is what becomes of Apple's rule of supporting only the previous major OS release with security updates, as that seems unsustainable to me given a yearly OS release cycle: all these SL machine measured by Net Applications (so these are Internet connected machines, not an off-the-net install base) are technically no longer updated for security and potentially insecure."

Thing is:

Snowy only really becomes obsolete when Flash stops distributing critical flaw upgrades for it. And even then, it's all still good as long as you're willing to forgo Flash and uninstall the plug-in.

Google stopping Chrome support would be a blow, but there's always Camino, which seems more committed to backwards compatibility. I do most of my browsing in OmniWeb with only trusted sites having JavaScript enabled, so I only need 'full-featured' browsers for occasional purposes.

But otherwise, what's really the downside for Snowy users of Apple suspending support? If my browser is safe, I'm assuming I should feel pretty damn safe from security exploits. (And even if my browser isn't safe anymore, as long I don't have any unsafe plug-ins, I'm guessing JavaScript can't really do genuine damage as long as I'm not set up to automatically execute files after a download, no?)

Snowy just released its own ad campaign proclaiming it the Greatest OS Of All Time...

[...] like me, he’s seeing lots of customers continuing to use Snow [...]

[...] OS X 10.8 is the current version, so Xcode only includes an SDK for 10.7. Too bad if you want to target 10.6. And, presumably, Xcode will soon ship with support for pre-release versions of 10.9, dropping SDK [...]

[...] And apparently the creator of iPhoto is another Snow Leopard fan. [...]

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