Is upgrading to Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard still sensible??

While it might seem to some like buying a ticket to the ball game after the seventh-inning stretch, in a helpful article this week, MacFixIt's Topher Kessler advises a qualified "affirmative" to a number of readers still running older Intel Macs that came with OS X 10.5 Leopard or even 10.4 Tiger and are wondering whether they should upgrade to version 10.6 Snow Leopard. Kessler thinks that even with Apple's release of Mac OS X v10.7 Lion not far off, the OS 10.6 Snow Leopard upgrade—available on DVD for upgrading from Leopard or Tiger installations at a modest $29—is still a good idea. I agree unreservedly.

Kessler presents several good reasons why one should still upgrade to v10.6, not least of which that Snow Leopard may be the earliest OS version supporting a direct upgrade to the new OS. He also notes that for MobileMe users, it's a no-brainer. A couple of points in favor he didn't mention are that upgrading to OS v10.6.6 and later will also give you immediate access to the Apple Mac App Store, if that appeals. Also, compatibility with a number of newer software applications for which Snow Leopard is a minimum system requirement already, and there will be even more in the future.

Another point is that Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard upgrade DVDs will likely not continue to be available from Apple for long, if at all, after the v10.7 Lion release, at least if past history is any reliable guide. Therefore, it might be a good idea to snag an uprade disk for possible future reference even if you don't install it right away.

The minimum Mac hardware for installing Lion has not been announced by Apple yet, but it's pretty safe to surmise that some early Intel Macs—possibly models with single-core processor silicon—will be bumped off the bottom rungs of the ladder of Mac OS X v10.7 support. So, for some, Snow Leopard will be the end of the Mac OS upgrade road and a requirement for future-proofing for at least a few more years.

Consequently, for $29, the Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard upgrade is a pretty sweet deal if you have a Mac that will support it; especially an older model. The only downsides I've noticed compared with Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard is that Snow Leopard makes my 2.0GHz unibody MacBook run somewhat hotter, resulting in more cooling fan cycling.


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