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Three for three: Friday's trifecta of Snow Leopard upgrades

If you joined us Friday night for the Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard liveblog, you probably saw me say that I didn't have many issues with the upgrade. That's an understatement -- I think Snow Leopard is one of the smoothest upgrades I've ever performed with any operating system. You've probably already read the reports of fellow bloggers David Winograd and Mel Martin, which noted many similar findings.

During a four hour period after the delivery of my 5-install Family Pack by FedEx, I upgraded three Macs. The experience with each of them was slightly different, which is something you'd expect since all three are completely different models, but in each case the end result was essentially the same. All had about 10 - 15 GB more hard drive space than when I began, all were more "snappy" in terms of response, and the display looked crisper.

After surprising the FedEx delivery person with my HD video camera (yes, there's going to be an unboxing video coming later this weekend), I ripped open the box, pulled out the Snow Leopard box, pulled off the plastic, and then got the disk ready to go. I had done a final Time Machine backup of my MacBook Air just to make sure I had captured the last changes made on documents, so I plugged in the MBA's external SuperDrive and popped in the disk. I'm not exactly sure what I did after starting up the installer, but on the MacBook Air, I was asked to reboot the machine and then the installation began.
Obviously, the upgrade process was using "Apple Time," since the installer initially told me that it would take about 37 minutes to complete the process. The actual time was about 59 minutes, which seemed longer than the norm for doing Leopard installs. For quite a bit of the time the installation was happening, the time remaining was about 37 minutes, after which it suddenly jumped to 9 minutes, and then finished.

After rebooting, my familiar desktop reappeared and the Setup Assistant appeared with the same "song and dance" that was so popular with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. Since this was not a new Mac, I wasn't asked to register, and clicking the Continue button deposited me onto my desktop.

The most apparent differences were that the keyboard icon in the menu bar is no longer an American flag; instead, it's a generic character viewer icon. I also noticed immediately that my favorite menu item, iStat, was gone. I knew it wasn't going to work under Snow Leopard, so that wasn't a surprise. After a few minutes, Software Update intruded and told me that I needed to update something; it turned out to be a new set of drivers for a Xerox copier/printer that I occasionally use at the office of one of my clients. Software Update had already downloaded the software, so I just let it install.

After that, I just played with Snow Leopard for a few minutes. Like I mentioned in the preamble to this post, it appears that everything just runs a bit faster. In some cases, the differences are immediately noticeable. For example, loading Microsoft Office 2008's components seems quite a bit faster, the iWork apps launch very quickly, and the iLife programs absolutely pop onto the screen.

With that out of the way and Mail.app processing my email inbox, I decided to start on the second Mac; it's an "original Intel" iMac using a Core Duo processor, not a Core 2 Duo. It has seemed quite sluggish lately, so I was hoping that the Snow Leopard upgrade would speed it up. In this case, the upgrade went a bit faster, taking only about 48 minutes to complete. As with the MacBook Air upgrade, there was one "flagged item" after Setup Assistant was done running. A message appeared on my screen stating that one application installed on the iMac would require Rosetta in order to run, so it asked me if I wanted to install it. One click was all it took for the Mac to download and install Rosetta so that all of my apps will now run.

My iMac is the workhorse of my Macs, since it has many peripherals attached to it. I was able to test a Dymo label printer and Epson scanner connected with USB, and both worked like a champ with no apparent issues. The next, and final, Mac to upgrade was my wife's MacBook Pro (unibody 15"). I'm not sure how long it took to upgrade, since I was feeling so confident that I just started up the installer and we went out to eat. When we returned, the MBP was asking for a login password, so I entered her password, let Setup Assistant do its thing, and then sat back to see if anything else happened.

Nope. Everything worked as planned on all three installs. One thing I did find to be a little odd is that my default printer was not installed, so I had to run the printer installer from System Preferences when I got ready to do a print test. Even that was a much faster process than before. The process of finding a new print driver and installing it took about half the time that it used to.

I encourage anyone who is wavering on whether or not to upgrade to consider the comments from TUAW and other Mac sites before making your decision. For the TUAW team, it appears that Snow Leopard has been a nice kitty.

If you joined us Friday night for the Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard liveblog, you probably saw me say that I didn't have many issues with the...