Let’s get things straight from the start. I upgraded to Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) this week, it was painless, and it’s a worthwhile upgrade (even if some of the interface changes are “insane”). At £79.98 from Amazon UK, it’s not unreasonable, especially as there hasn’t been an OS update for so long. And it comes in the freakiest holographic box I’ve ever seen.
But the cost doesn’t stop there. Oh no. Firstly, there’s a great new automatic backup feature called Time Machine – but that needs an external hard drive to work properly (well, it is a backup system). Now, many people already have external hard drives, but chances are that even if you do, you’ll probably think this is the opportunity to invest in a new, bigger one. I bet your existing one has all sorts of data on it which you can’t delete or archive, leaving precious little space – certainly not the hundreds of GB which Time Machine is going to need eventually.
So add to the cost of Leopard the cost of a new external hard drive. I bought a Western Digital 500GB My Book PRO and that set me back another £99.94 – more than the cost of Leopard.
And there’s more. Much more, actually. Because although most software developers have had Leopard long enough to ensure their latest releases work with Leopard, the chances are that old software versions don’t. And who’s got the latest version of everything? Not me.
Any pre-CS3 version of Adobe Photoshop? No, it simply won’t work. Not even CS2 …and certainly not my version 7.0. Any pre-CS3 version of Adobe Illustrator? Sorry (and I have the CS release too!). Quark Xpress? Officially, my version 6.5 is not supported, but it seems OK – but I wouldn’t bank on its stability. Even good old Toast needs to be the latest version 8. In the end I decided I couldn’t update everything, and reluctantly decided that I’d live without my rarely-used Illustrator from now on. I’d take a chance with Quark Xpress 6.52 on Leopard. But still, that’s £162.98 for Photoshop CS3 and £69.98 for Toast 8.
Grand total to date: £412.38 (that’s over US$800) and I’m still worried that I might have to fork out another mind-boggling £316.98 (well over $600) on an Quark Xpress 7 upgrade. Sure, I’ll get the latest and greatest versions, and I’m sure I’ll find some new features in them which I can make use of. But I didn’t expect the cost of Leopard to be quite this much. Be warned.