Apple's $29 operating-system upgrade, Snow Leopard, is for most users a straightforward and worthwhile upgrade. But some are regretting their haste in upgrading to Mac OS X 10.6. Little incompatibilities with existing apps are causing headaches and slowing down work flow.
It's not the current versions of the big apps that don't work, of course. The latest version of Photoshop still runs. Even the current versions of the close-to-the-metal virtualization applications Parallels and VMware Fusion work in Snow Leopard. Apple's own apps--Mail, Calendar, and iTunes--all work great. And Firefox runs fine, even though Apple has its own competing browser, Safari.
But many little things don't work, and the niggles are frustrating. Dealing with them makes the Mac experience very un-Mac-like. For some users who have spent time tweaking their Mac setup, the operating-system upgrade means a step backward in the pleasure and smoothness of using the platform. They feel a hit in productivity. For people like me, it's the little hacks that make the Mac experience uniquely personal and help me paper over some of the Jobsian UI dictums of which I'd rather not be reminded.
Necessary disclaimer: Apple and third-party developers deserve much credit for ensuring that so many major apps work well in Snow Leopard, since it is such a major under-the-hood upgrade.
Most incompatibilities will be fixed, of course. Apple released Snow Leopard earlier than expected, and developers are scrambling to update their apps. But even some of the big developers have fallen behind the cycle here -- Microsoft's Live Mesh sync and backup product doesn't yet work, for example.
You can see a big list of Snow Leopard compatibility issues at the famous Snow Leopard Wikidot page. For the record, here are some of the small incompatibilities that are driving people where I work up a tree:
iStat Menus, a Mac system monitor, does not work. Developer Marc Edwards said he's been working on the 2.0 version of the product, but that Apple's timing derailed his plans. "We expected that version 2 would have been ready before 10.6 was out," he wrote to me, "but the early release meant that wasn't possible."
The preferences pane for Growl, the universal-app pop-up notifier, doesn't work. The developers say they will update the app as soon as they can.
… Read more