My own feelings on Apple aside, many of us have a significant investment in Apple technology. According to Ars Technica, Apple analysts are expecting the company to move 5 million upgrades to its OS by the end of September; Ars thinks this is actually pretty conservative. These numbers are all well and good, but the real question is "Should we bother upgrading in Ed Tech?"
The Apple Educational Store is currently showing $49 upgrades for volume licenses, but the Ars article makes reference to $29 upgrades. Regardless, the price is fairly low and the new features are arguably important in an educational setting:
- Improved security
- Improved performance (at least on numerically-intensive tasks and faster boot/shutdown)
- Native 64-bit applications
- Improved multi-core support
- Some really innovative new accessibility features
If anything, at least an upgrade to Snow Leopard Server seems to make sense. Improved 64-bit support and simplified administrator for only $175 is a bargain for schools that rely on Apples in the server room. It's a bit harder to justify in the computer lab, though. Even at the $29 upgrade price, will students see enough benefit to justify three grand for 100 of your computers? The cost adds up quickly and smartboard prices are coming down. I can think of other things to buy.
To be honest, Macs are pretty speedy as it is. The improvements seem great for geeks and, to be honest, I'm probably going to upgrade my own Mac. But for the average classroom app? The exception, obviously, is with the new accessibility features. For visually-impaired students in particular, Snow Leopard may be actually worth buying a Mac, let alone upgrading an existing machine.
Maybe I'm just cheap. I'm not planning to upgrade my Vista or XP machines to 7 either, despite the fact that I think Windows 7 is a real improvement over both. I just feel like the upgrade money could be spent on easy infrastructure or classroom technology upgrades. What do you think?