Operating system upgrades promise performance boosts
Alan Zisman (c) 2009 First published in Business
2009; Issue #1037
High Tech Office column Last week
, we saw Microsoft
hoping to convince you to upgrade to Windows 7, due for release on
October 22, and that Vista users might want to make the move while XP
users might prefer to hang tight.
|Mac users face
similar issues. Apple promised its next generation – OS X 10.6 “Snow
Leopard” – sometime in September, but released it early on August 28.
Like Win 7, Snow Leopard aims to be tighter and faster performing than
its predecessor; unlike Vista users, though, Mac owners have generally
been happy with the previous version.|
OS X 10.5
“Leopard” was designed to work both on the current
Intel-powered Macs and on PowerPC Macs – models prior to 2006. Snow
Leopard drops support for the earlier generation, letting Apple scrub
out legacy code. By also dropping installation of unneeded printer
drivers, Snow Leopard requires much less hard-drive space than its
Hard-drive space is cheap and
Leopard, however, is both slimmer and perkier. Apple claims messages
load 85% faster in Apple’s Mail, shut down is 75% quicker and
connecting to wireless networks 55% faster. I’m running it on a couple
of systems, and they do feel more responsive. Upgrading took about an
hour with no pain. While not promising as many new features as in past
OS X versions, Snow Leopard includes a share of neat new stuff – like
the ability to enter Chinese characters by drawing with your finger on
a Mac laptop’s trackpad.
While Apple has a
number of corporate users, the upgrade promises them Microsoft Exchange
Server 2007 support for its Mail, Address Book and iCal applications.
7 users will have to choose between 32-bit (for greater compatibility)
and 64-bit (for more power) versions of home, professional and ultimate
editions. Snow Leopard comes in a single version with increased 64-bit
support with compatibility for 32-bit applications (like the Mac
version of Photoshop). Five-user licences are available.
unlike Microsoft, Apple is pricing this one as a modest upgrade: the
single-user upgrade version costs $35; there’s a five-system “family
pack” for $60. (There’s also a $200 box set bundling Snow Leopard with
Apple’s iLife and iWork applications). If you’ve bought a Mac since
June 8, you can upgrade for $10.
My advice: if you
have an older PowerPC Mac, you’re out of the loop. Intel Mac users
running the current OS X 10.5 should get this affordable performance
But Apple’s not the only non-Microsoft
game in town. Linux – the free operating system that runs on standard
PC hardware – has made tremendous improvements in usability over the
past few years. It’s easy to get confused, though, by the huge number
of different Linux distributions, but it’s hard to go wrong with what
has become the most popular of the bunch: Ubuntu.
developer, Canonical, releases a new version twice a year. The next
release is promised by October 29, as a result being numbered 9.10.
Each Ubuntu release gets a codename – this one is Karmic Koala. Despite
the silly name, Koala promises performance improvements – particularly
start time and hooks for online cloud computing.
with the current edition, there’s a separate Netbook Remix version
promised for users of these popular low-powered notebooks, though I
prefer the standard interface on my netbook.
feature of the past recent Ubuntu semi-annual updates: users can update
the latest version right from the standard software update dialogue –
no CD or DVD needed. As a result, moving to the latest version is
I’m going to be moving my pair of Ubuntu
systems to the new version when it comes out. Business users might opt
to skip this one, however.
The promised next version
– April 2010’s 10.04 – should be what Canonical calls an LTS (long-term
support) version, with three years of support. •