Almost half of Mac users plan to upgrade to Mac OS X 10.3 Panther as soon as it ships, a Macworld Online poll indicates.

A total of 47 per cent of 957 readers will upgrade when Apple’s new operating system ships on October 24. The update will cost £99 and delivers 150 new features, including a new Finder, Exposé – a way to instantly see all open windows – and iChat AV, a desktop video-conferencing solution.

One Panther enthusiast said: "My order is in, and I can't wait. There's some good stuff coming in 10.3, notably the improved networking, and I can't wait for Exposé."

Another wrote: "It’s well worth the money. Think how far OS X has come since 10.0, and look at what you get for your money compared with other popular operating systems. In my opinion, it's a cheap price to pay."

Not everyone is diving straight in, though, with 14 per cent saying they plan to wait a week or two, and 17 per cent planning to hold off until Christmas. A further 11 per cent won’t upgrade until next year, while 10 per cent have no plans to upgrade at all.

One reader observed: "I'm not going to leap in, whatever the evangelists say. I've no doubt Panther will be wonderful once it works properly, but let's face it. How many major upgrades are trouble-free first time?"

Misery in waiting An even more pessimistic reader predicted the following sequence of events: "Apple will release Panther to cries of "ooh", "ahh" and "cool" but two weeks later we will hear cries of "arrgh" as the inevitable bugs emerge. A month later they will release 10.3.1 – a fix that causes more problems than it fixes. Then Apple will release 10.3.2, which fixes all of the above but unfortunately requires twice the amount of memory and a better graphics card!"

Other readers plan to keep an eye on Macworld for information: "I'll wait for some reviews and comments on this forum before I make the leap," said one.

Another believes that “it makes sense to wait for bug fixes, but if it weren't for early adopters you'd never get the bug fixes so quick".

Upgrading isn't an option for some readers who require a new Mac before they turn to Panther: "I'll upgrade when I get a Mac that's capable of running it properly," said one respondee.

Cost is another reason why some will delay upgrading. One such reader said: "I paid my £99 for 10.1, £99 for 10.2, and will not be paying £99 for 10.3.”

"Why does Apple force me to pay full price to update when a Windows user pays half the price of the full version to upgrade,” said another. “Apple should give OS X 10.2 upgraders a discount."