I've been on the fence for some time about whether or not to pre-order Snow Leopard, and, if I were to do so, which package I should get. There are two options under my consideration.
The first is the $29 Upgrade option. This option requires the user to already have a copy of Leopard. What this means exactly is unclear. It could simply mean that you will need to prove that you have purchased Leopard in order to qualify for purchasing or using the installer on this disc. Given Apple's lack of serial number tracking for their OS, though, I find this scenario unlikely. More likely is that the upgrade disc will require that Leopard has already been installed on the system, and then the upgrade disc will be used to literally upgrade that install to Snow Leopard. MacRumors even states:
"...the standalone OS X Snow Leopard, priced at $29, will require an existing installation of OS X 10.5 Leopard."
The second option is the Box Set option. The Box Set comes with iLife, iWork and a full installer for Snow Leopard, and is said to be required if you want to upgrade from Tiger (or, presumably, even older OSes). This option, though, is $169. And, though it remains to be seen, it appears to be the only option available at this time to those looking for a full installer disc.
Since no one is really sure what the final options will be, I've been holding off on pre-ordering Leopard, despite the fact that I'd really like to show my support as well as get the disc as soon as humanly possible. But now I'm reconsidering. Again.
I had originally said that the Upgrade option was a no-go for me, that, as a SysAdmin I felt I needed a full install of the OS as, traditionally, there had been much lacking with previous upgrade-style OS discs. (No, I can't recall offhand what they were, but there's definitely a red flag in my brain on these sorts of things, and it's there for a reason.) But I'm starting to think it's meant to be this way. That is, after reading up on the matter, it sounds like Apple intends Leopard owners to use the upgrade disk, that this is the preferred method of installing Snow Leopard. And frankly, the new installer tricks sound cool enough that I want to use that upgrade disk to check them out, see if they work, and, if nothing else report my findings. Yes, I'm considering it for the blogging potential. Plus, at $29 bucks you almost can't go wrong.
Here's the thing, though. Even though I already have iLife, and even though I certainly don't need — but wouldn't mind getting — a copy of iWork, I may find myself buying the Box Set at some point anyway. Just to have the full installer. And this makes me really back off the idea of getting the Upgrade option. So, here we are: Cognitive Dissonance City.
What I wish is that Daring Fireball had a pre-order link to the Box Set. I'd almost certainly do that. As it stands now, I've just about talked myself into getting both — pre-ordering the Upgrade and then getting the Box Set later.
How sick is that? Yes, I have problems.
UPDATE: Problem solved: Mr. Gruber has a page with pre-order links to all the various possible incarnations of Snow Leopard. I'll be pre-ordering the Box Set of Snow Leopard today.
UPDATE 2: I have just ordered the Snow Leopard Box Set. I'm assuming this will give me the best of all possible worlds — an upgrade install if I want it, and a full install if I need it. I also just realized that I will, in fact, be upgrading a Tiger system, so having the full, unfettered installer will be a real boon. And having iWork and an extra copy of iLife bundled in won't be so bad either. So there it is, done at last.
Just a final thank you to everyone who wrote in on this, both in this article's comments and here. Your input helped with this decision a lot. Thanks!
UPDATE 3: Just to follow up on this, there has been some discussion in the comments — and on the Internet at large — about the fact that the Snow Leopard Upgrade disc actually contains the full installer and that the Box Set is not physically required to upgrade from Tiger, though it is required in order to be compliant with the EULA. While part of me did feel a bit scammed by the vague nature of the pre-order language, I mostly feel quite pleased with Apple's policies governing OS updates: They are reasonably priced and extremely liberal in the restrictions on how and where they can be installed. Simply put, Apple does not require any sort of serial number input or product activation to use their updates; you buy them and are on your honor to abide by the EULA. Snow Leopard continues this proud tradition. While I do wish there were a cheaper legal option that didn't require me purchasing iLife and iWork, I'm still, overall, a very happy camper and am looking forward to receiving my Snow Leopard Box Set. In the end, no complaints here.