Reports: $US29 Snow Leopard upgrade works on Tiger, too

But that's a violation of Apple's license, says upgrade expert

Although Mac owners running the older Tiger operating system can use the cheapest upgrade to install the brand-new Snow Leopard, doing so is a violation of Apple Inc.'s license agreement, according to reports today on the Web.

Officially, Apple has pitched the $US29 single-license Snow Leopard upgrade only to customers running Mac OS 10.5, known as Leopard.

At the same time, it's told users running the older Mac OS 10.4, known as Tiger, that they should purchase the more expensive $US169 "Box Set" instead. The Box Set includes the Snow Leopard upgrade, and adds the iLife '09 creativity bundle and the iWork '09 productivity suite.

But yesterday, Walt Mossberg, the technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal , said ( Tiger users could opt for the cheaper upgrade.

"Apple concedes that the $US29 Snow Leopard upgrade will work properly on these Tiger-equipped Macs, so you can save the extra $US140," Mossberg said.

Answers to important questions are scarce, however, including whether Tiger users would be required to do a so-called "clean" upgrade that involves backing up their data, erasing the hard drive, installing Snow Leopard, then restoring their data and reinstalling all applications. (Snow Leopard's default for Leopard users is an "in-place" upgrade that retains all data, settings and applications.)

If Tiger users must conduct a clean install with the $US29 upgrade, they would be in the same boat that Windows XP users will be come Oct. 22 when Microsoft Corp. launches Windows 7.

The only way to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 is to do a clean install. Only users running Vista can upgrade in-place.

Others confirmed Mossberg's note that Tiger users can go the cheaper route.

"Our tests confirm 10.6 DVD works for Tiger Macs too," wrote Brian Chen , a reporter for Wired.com on Twitter. "Apparently it installs even if you have Tiger."

Because of a lack of Tiger-equipped Macs, Computerworld was unable to immediately confirm Mossberg's and Chen's contentions. However, Ryan Faas, who wrote "Upgrading to Apple's Snow Leopard OS: What you need to know," noted that the possibility made perfect sense.

"My assumption is that it should work simply because the DVD has to be able to boot and install onto a system that has a damaged OS, or that you want to do a clean-install on," Faas said in an e-mail.

Apple's public relations team did not reply to questions today.

One thing is relatively certain, however: Using the $US29 Snow Leopard upgrade on a Mac running Mac OS X 10.4 is a violation of Apple's End User License Agreement, or EULA.

"If you have purchased an Upgrade for Mac OS X Leopard license, then subject to the terms and conditions of this License, you are granted a limited non-exclusive license to install, use and run one (1) copy of the Apple Software on a single Apple-branded computer as long as that computer has a properly licensed copy of Mac OS X Leopard already installed on it," the EULA reads, according to TidBits' Joe Kissel, the author of Take Control of Upgrading to Snow Leopard.

Apple is selling single-license Snow Leopard upgrades for $US29, and a five-license Family Pack for $US49. The Box Set costs $US169 for a single license and $US229 for a five-license pack.

Amazon.com, where Snow Leopard continues to hold down the top two spots on its software bestseller list, has reduced the price for Snow Leopard to $US25 for one license, $US43.99 for Family Pack. Amazon.com sells the Box Set for $US149.99 and $US199.99.

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Tags AppleMac OS Xsnow leopardtigerupgrades

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Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
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