The good news is that upgrading to OS X Snow Leopard is going to be pretty cheap for people who wisely sprung cash for Leopard. But before you buy, you better check your situation and plan the right move, money-wise.
AU: These figures are only a rough guide—Apple Australia is yet to announce Snow Leopard pricing (other than for new Mac owners). We'll update you with Aussie prices as soon as they are released.
You may have a few questions: Am I eligible for a cheap upgrade? How about a "free" upgrade? What's this about family packs? Should I be shopping for a new Mac?
As you can see from this handy chart, the process of upgrading to a new OS is a little more straightforward for Mac users than it is with Windows. Again, everything starts with meeting the minimum system requirements, which in this case means bye-bye Power PC—you gotta have an Intel chipset:
• Mac with an Intel Processor • 1GB of memory • 5GB of disk space • DVD drive (though MacBook Airs can "Remote Install" from another computer)
Snow Leopard Pricing Upgrading from Leopard is the easiest: $US29. If you own multiple Macs, a Family pack is just $US20 more: $US49 for five users. Keep in mind, though, that Snow Leopard does not have any activation restrictions, so buying a Family Pack for two or three computers is kind of a waste of money (though technically illegal). Just remember, if you need tech support on any of your multiple machines during the 90 days that you are covered after buying the OS, you'll have to have a legit software licence.
If you bought a Mac anytime after June 8, you get Snow Leopard even cheaper with the "Up-to-Date" program: $US10 (A$14.95). Sure, it's not "free" like Windows 7, but Apple sends you the install disc, and says that this amount mostly goes to shipping and handling.
The Tiger Catch Apple has said it themselves:
For Tiger users with an Intel-based Mac, the Mac Box Set includes Mac OS X Snow Leopard, iLife '09 and iWork '09 and will be available for a suggested price of $169 (US) and a Family Pack is available for a suggested price of $229 (US).
And retailers are doing a good job of making sure people know:
If you are an Intel Mac user running OS X 10.5 or above (Leopard), then there is no reason why you shouldn't take advantage of such an inexpensive upgrade to Snow Leopard. However, OS X 10.4 (Tiger) users will be forced to pick up one of the much pricier boxed sets that bundle Snow Leopard, iLife and iWork if they want to make the jump. iWork '09 is about $US55 on Amazon, so you're getting something for your money, but it may not be what you want.
If you fall into this latter category, I would say it might be time to start looking into a new Mac with Snow Leopard and iLife '09 pre-installed, rather than putting an additional $US169 into a dated machine. This is especially true if you are are still running a PowerPC, which can't be upgraded at all.
From time to time, Apple abandons users of dated machines and OSes—the rationale is that it keeps them from having the heavily layered code that Windows is always criticised for. Still, if you're the guy running Tiger on an old PPC machine, you're definitely feeling like a second-rate citizen in the Apple-verse. It's time to move up...or move on.
Of course, dropping over $US1000 on a MacBook might not be in the cards for everyone right now (although a Mac Mini is a relatively affordable way to get your foot in the door at $US600), but it is important to consider that Apple's Up-To-Date Program offers a Snow Leopard upgrade for $US10 on purchases that include qualified refurbished systems.
[Background Image via Flickr]