Computerworld’s Gregg Keizer reports that the desertion rate for five-year-old OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard begun to accelerate over the past three months, perhaps because Apple has stopped releasing security update patches for the still popular with some of us Mac operating system.
Keizer notes that between March and May inclusive,Snow Leopard lost 3.8 percentage points of its share among all Mac operating systems, according to Internet data metrics firm Net Applications, who estimate that 15% of all Macs tracked online in May were still running OS X 10.6.
My late 2008 Core 2 Duo unibody MacBook was one of them. I also have OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion installed on a second HDD partition, but rarely boot from it, and haven’t bothered to install 10.9 Mavericks. I do have Mavericks on my six month old MacBook Air, but I still prefer the Snow Leopard user interface and rock solid stability.
Aside from those virtues, Snow Leopard is also the last Mac operating system that supports Carbon applications ported from Power PC apps via the now-discontinued Rosetta emulator, and there are still some of those for which there are no satisfactory Intel native surrogates. There are a couple of those I still use intensively on the MacBook, and intend to continue doing so for the foreseeable future.
Snow Leopard is also the last OS X version that will run on Macs with 32-bit Intel processors.
Since Apple terminated security patching for Snow Leopard and Safari 5 last September, I no longer conduct any banking or commerce on the MacBook. Not a big Issue for me since I have the relatively new MacBook Air and my iPad, but a potential risk for users with just one computer running Snow Leopard.
Greg Keizer predicts that at current rates of abandonment, Snow Leopard OS X share will droop below 10 percent by November, and below five percent by March 2015. Sounds like a reasonable forecast, and Snow Leopard will gradually fade away as users replace older hardware with machines that don’t support it.
However, I also still have two old Pismo PowerBooks in active service running OS X 10.4 Tiger, and my wife’s 17-inch PowerBook G4 is still soldiering along with 10.5 Leopard, so I expect we’ll be running Snow Leopard as long as the old MacBook Is still providing useful service