How Snow Leopard yells you and what you should do.
One of the drawbacks of updating to any new operating system — be it the latest version of Mac OS or Windows — is the risk that some of your older software might not be compatible. But it makes sense: as your system software is updated to add more features and take advantage of the power and capabilities of more modern computer hardware, software applications that are not updated along with it may simply cease functioning. This is probably the best argument for updating all of the software you rely on regularly.
When you install Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard on your Mac, it automatically reviews the software installed on your computer. At the very end of the installation process, it notifies you of incompatibilities it found with a dialog like this:
Clicking the More Info button displays a dialog with details about which software is incompatible and what the Snow Leopard installer did with it. In this example, Snow Leopard won’t work with my Palm Sync software. That’s okay with me because I no longer use a Palm (I have a BlackBerry now), which is why I never bothered to update the Palm Sync software. By moving it to the Incompatible Software folder it created, the Snow Leopard installer made it easy for me to simply delete it from my hard disk.
If, however, I still used and needed that software, I’d be researching Snow Leopard-compatible updates for it. If the software was still supported by its developer, I’d likely find one, install it, and be able to use it with Snow Leopard.
The dialog shown here includes a link that you should definitely follow if you either see this dialog or before you update to Snow Leopard if you believe some of your older software may not be compatible. The link is to a Knowledge Base article titled “Mac OS X v10.6: About incompatible software.” It includes a known list of incompatible software, as well as links to the developer sites to get updates.
While I realize that there has been a great deal of whining from some Mac OS users about Snow Leopard incompatibilities, I don’t think the problem is as serious as some might want you to believe. If application software is regularly updated and supported by its developer, it’s likely to be Snow Leopard compatible either now or by the end of October 2009. (Remember, Snow Leopard was originally slated for release in September, so its early release caught a lot of developers by surprise.) It’s really not fair to expect Apple to find and test its operating system software with every Mac OS application developed in during the past 10 years. It’s the developer’s job to make its software compatible with new hardware and operating system software. This is probably the best reason to avoid software developed by fly-by-night developers who might not be around when system software updates are released.
If you do have older software that’s no longer support and is “mission critical” to your work or organization, the answer is simple: don’t upgrade your hardware or system software. If it works on whatever setup you currently have, just stick with that until you can find an alternative solution.
It’s in the Book!
You can find more information about using application software with Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard: Visual QuickStart Guide.:
- Application Basics is covered in Chapter 10, pages 183-208.
- TextEdit is covered in Chapter 11, pages 209-232.
- Internet Applications are covered in Chapter19, pages 405-444.
- Mac OS Utilities is covered in Chapter 24, pages 569-594.