Apple Archive

Is the Panther Upgrade Worth It?

- 2003.10.24

Yes, Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther) one of those "is it worth it" things. With Apple charging the full $129 for the upgrade, you have to ask yourself whether it's actually a good value.

Considering that Mac OS 10.1 cost $129 also, and the same with 10.2 - can you justify spending $129 every year or so to upgrade your operating system?

As with any OS upgrade, there will always be applications that will break as soon as you install it. This, of course, means that not only do you have to buy the OS, but the updated version of the other software, assuming there is one. One of the concerns seems to be Photoshop 7. I don't know if there will be an update to make it fully compatible, but I believe there is an issue with the save box being different in 10.3. These seemingly minor issues can mess up an entire application.

Is it worth your $129?

Users of beige G3s and WallStreet PowerBooks can't run OS 10.3 - not that most of them probably really mind anyway, since I find 9.2 to be the last practical OS for these machines. But Panther does up the system requirements, and for those looking for a "cheap" Mac just to get used to OS X, they'll have to spend a bit more now on a blue & white G3, an iMac, a Lombard PowerBook, or an iBook.

You might also question why you really need to upgrade to OS 10.3.

What features come with 10.3? Other than a slightly changed interface (and, by the way, you can always change OS 10.1 or 10.2 with a theme switcher like Duality), the only main features 10.3 offers are Exposé and the ability to have multiple user sessions open at the same time. Unless you share your machine, you probably aren't going to use that.

And Exposé ? I won't use it; I know that, since I tend to have few things open at one time. To me it's one of those things you do for show - "look at what my computer can do!" - but that isn't really all that useful, like that new effect for switching users in 10.3 where the desktop rotates or the "genie" effect when miniaturizing a window in the dock.

I think I'm going to hold off on updating my system software. 10.2 works fine for now, and once I start hearing some of the bug reports in 10.3, if it's nothing too severe I might consider upgrading, especially as new applications become available for 10.3 only.

If you need justification for upgrading, probably the best is the new applications that will potentially become available that may not run under 10.2. For instance, iTunes 4 won't run on OS 10.1; you must have 10.2. In a way, you're paying for the ability to use future software upgrades in the OS price.

And I'll bet the next version of Safari will be 10.3 only.

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