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Snow Leopard in action looks a lot like OS X Leopard, but its significantly faster, according to Apple.  (Source: Apple)

The new OS also improves accessibility, adding support for braille wireless accessories for the visually impaired.  (Source: Apple)
Apple is ready to spread OS X 10.6 to the masses

Apple's new operating system, OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard", will beat the company's own launch target of September – an official launch date of August 28 was just announced.  The new OS is priced at $29 per license for OS X Leopard users (with additional discounts for bulk license users).  Apple notes, "Snow Leopard builds on a decade of OS X innovation and success with hundreds of refinements, new core technologies and out of the box support for Microsoft Exchange."

Bertrand Serlet, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, describes, "Snow Leopard builds on our most successful operating system ever and we’re happy to get it to users earlier than expected.  For just $29, Leopard users get a smooth upgrade to the world’s most advanced operating system and the only system with built in Exchange support."

The new OS is set to go head-to-head with Microsoft's Windows 7 and delivers many major improvements for Mac users.

Over 90 percent of the 1,000 core programs in OS X had their performance tuned and improved, according to Apple.  Many -- namely, Finder, Mail, iCal, iChat, and Safari -- were moved from 32-bit into a 64-bit world, which boosts memory performance, among other things.  Apple says that its Finder is "more responsive", its Mail client is twice as fast, and Time Machine is 80 percent faster at its initial backup.

Apple includes the new QuickTime X and Safari 4 with the OS.  Apple says that the new version of Safari is more resistant to plug-in crashes and 50 percent faster at general web browsing (Safari recently received the accolade of being listed by Futuremark as tied with Google's Chrome as the fastest browser).

The size of the installation has also been cut in half freeing 7 GB. 

Apple is pushing a couple of new technologies with Snow Leopard.  The first is its Grand Central Dispatch (GCD) a technology designed to optimize multi-core usage.  Another new tech is OpenCL, a C-based open standard, which looks to provide heterogenous processing on both GPUs and CPUs.

Ironically, one of Apple's biggest selling point with the new OS comes from competitor Microsoft.  Apple explains, "Snow Leopard is the only desktop operating system with built in support for Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, and it allows you to use Mac OS X Mail, Address Book and iCal to send and receive email, create and respond to meeting invitations, and search and manage contacts with global address lists. Exchange information works seamlessly within Snow Leopard so users can also take advantage of OS X only features such as fast Spotlight searches and Quick Look previews."

Unlimited licenses of Snow Leopard are available for $499, half the price of an unlimited pack for Leopard.  The new OS will start shipping this Friday to customers that pre-order.  Amazon.com has already been holding an unofficial pre-order for the last couple weeks and saw Snow Leopard jump to the top of its software sales charts.

Snow Leopard Server will launch on August 28, as well, alongside the new consumer OS.  The Server edition comes with Podcast Producer 2 and Mobile Access Server and costs $499 for an unlimited license.



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RE: Can someone tell me why I should be excited?
By omnicronx on 8/24/2009 4:14:21 PM , Rating: 3
Really I feel for you, there is no conceivable reason to only allow 2GB RAM on hardware that is suppose to be high end. This is most likely done by Apple, as I really doubt Intel crippled their chipsets as to not support it.

I also am starting to wonder about Apples 64 bit support. The latest leaked builds as of less than a week ago had 64 bit kernel and driver support disabled by default. Here is Apples latest response.
quote:
The 32-bit kernel fully supports 64-bit applications, all system libraries that 64-bit applications use are fully 64-bit, and 64-bit applications have a full 64-bit virtual address space of 16 exabytes available to them on Mac OS X. The primary benefit of a 64-bit kernel is to improve the efficiency of accessing over 32GB of RAM.
That looks great at first, too bad the exact same thing was already supported in 10.5, just none of the apps were natively 64 bit. This to me is terrible, they have marketed as being 64bit but in implementation both the kernel and its drivers will be 32bit?

This is why I just can't imagine the speed increases Apple is claiming. Perhaps they greatly optimized their code, but let me assure you, Safari is not 50% faster because of 64 bit alone.

Apple is trying to pull a fast one over its customers, they have been claiming something to be true for months and have taken back on that promise. While I would still upgrade to SL, if I were an Apple user, I would not be very happy right now.

Now I understand why this was probably done, just imagine the third party driver support if your OS actually required 64 bit drivers. Windows users know the problems this can cause, and in terms of driver supports MS is heads and heals ahead of Apple for 64 bit drivers because they are on the 3rd iteration of a true 64bit OS. But really thats not our problem, Apple promised something and are taking back on that promise.

All this being said Xserve based machines will automatically run in 64 bit mode, and as it stands if you are a desktop/laptop user you can get into 64 bit mode by pressing a the '6' and '4' keys upon boot. Although apparently some older Macbooks using 32bit EFI firmware will be totally out of luck. The fact remains that by default users will be put into 32 bit mode, with the chance that many of its users won't even have the option to get into 64 bit mode. The only happy news is newer yet to be released machines may support it by default, but as an upgrade I am starting to realize why it only costs 30 bucks..

Welcome to 64 bit Apple users, please commence your 2 year waiting period before suitable 3rd party drivers become available for your hardware.. at that point perhaps everyone will see true 64 bit.


RE: Can someone tell me why I should be excited?
By sebmel on 8/24/2009 7:38:48 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft forked Windows 32bit and 64bit... they sold Vista 64bit as a pro version with lower use. Third party hardware manufacturers aimed at the main part of the market (the 6 or so 32bit versions... starter;home; home pro; pro; business; ultimate... something like that) and enthusiasts who installed the 64bit version had to wait.

That's not the same situation. There are only one version of Mac OS X. There will be no need for third party hardware manufacturers to write different drivers... no waiting for Microsoft to 'certify' them either.

Sure drivers take time to write and refine... just don't forget what actually happened with Vista 64bit drivers.


By Alexstarfire on 8/24/2009 8:01:45 PM , Rating: 2
And who's talking about Vista? That's way, way old news. Of course with what Omni said you basically have two different versions of the OS, one 32-bit and one 64-bit. Or so it sounds that way. If you need different drivers for each "version" then I feel that most manufacturers would ignore 64-bit for a while just as they did with Vista.

That's only assuming what Omni said is true and that you'd need different drivers.


RE: Can someone tell me why I should be excited?
By sebmel on 8/24/2009 8:28:41 PM , Rating: 2
Omni said that Mac OSX users could expect delays in a way that Windows users are familiar with. I believe he was referring to the delay for 64bit Vista drivers... hence the 'old news'.

My comment points out that the reasons for the Vista delay do not exist with Mac OS X. There is just one version which supports both 32bit and 64bit processing. So far the process of switching over on a Mac has been seamless. I do not yet see a reason to expect anything different from Snow Leopard.


By Alexstarfire on 8/24/2009 9:04:56 PM , Rating: 2
Well, perhaps if you'd read my post you'd understand why I feel otherwise.


By gstrickler on 8/24/2009 7:56:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
there is no conceivable reason to only allow 2GB RAM on hardware that is suppose to be high end.
The Macbook is not and has never been "high end", it's the entry level Mac notebook.

The reason to only allow 2GB (actually, 3GB) is that the chipset only supports 4GB, and part of that is used for I/O space. The 2.16GHz White MacBook was introduced in May 2007, and replaced in Nov 2007, and it's based upon the same hardware as the original MacBook introduce in May 2006. It's a hardware limitation, just like 95% of the Windows laptops of that timeframe.
quote:
Welcome to 64 bit Apple users, please commence your 2 year waiting period before suitable 3rd party drivers become available for your hardware.. at that point perhaps everyone will see true 64 bit.
Most Mac users don't need to worry about 3rd party drivers, they have only Apple hardware for which both 32-bit and 64-bit drivers will ship with 10.6. What is a concern are 3rd party kernel extensions, some of which are already available in 64-bit versions, some of which are not. Anyone not using a 3rd party kernel extension that is 32-bit only, and that has a 64-bit capable system can start the using 64-bit kernel the day they install the upgrades, if they choose to do so.

Your experience with 64-bit versions of Windows does not apply because Apple took a completely different path from 32-bit to 64-bit. That path sacrificed performance in 32-bit mode in order to make the transition to 64-bit much simpler. The result is that running the 64-bit kernel requires only 64-bit kernel extensions and drivers, and is otherwise transparent to both 32-bit and 64-bit applications. That choice to sacrifice 32-bit performance on prior versions is also why the typical user, even on lower end machines with 2GB of RAM, will see performance improvements from moving to a 64-bit kernel. That's in addition to the benefits they'll get from the streamlined code and the new Finder.

Go read about the Mac OS X architecture and how Apple implemented 32/64 bit capabilities in 10.4, 10.5, and 10.6 and you'll understand why it's not like Windows and why most of what you know about 64-bit Windows doesn't apply.

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/08/10/28/road...


By ffakr on 8/25/2009 1:03:08 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Apple is trying to pull a fast one over its customers, they have been claiming something to be true for months and have taken back on that promise. While I would still upgrade to SL, if I were an Apple user, I would not be very happy right now.


You get it, but you're incapable of having it register.

Earlier info from Apple indicated you could install a 64bit native kernel if you hold down command-option-6-4 on the install boot the installer will install a 64bit kernel.
If this has been removed as an option and you get both on consumer machines, I don't see what the problem is.

There's a good reason to do this.. and you yourself pointed it out.. Some Macs have 32bit EFI.
Also.. 64bit code isn't always faster than 32bit code. It can be slower than 32bit code if you only need 32bit registers.

The biggest thing the 64bit kernel is going to get high end users over consumers is the ability for a single thread to access over 4GB of memory space. People who really need that are going to boot 64bit (it's easy enough to set this as the default option by editing a file on the machine).

You can still run 64 bit applications (I've got a load running on my MacBook Pro w/ 32bit kernel).
In 10.5, the serious limitation of the 32bit kernel was the inability to run the GUI of apps in 64bit. Only headless threads could run in 64 bit. That's not true in SL.
The limitation of the 32bit kernel is kernel address space and maximum memory addressible by a single thread.

I have no f'n idea why you think Apple is "trying to pull a fast one".

Is it because, as you said, Apple promised a 64bit kernel for months [years actually] and they shipped a 64bit kernel.. they just don't always boot into it by default?

Is it because Apple, as usual, provides out-of-the-box compatability with all Mac hardware? Wern't you bitchin about the difficulty of upgrading Apple hardware someone up in the responses?

That's the best you've got? Whaaa.. Apple didn't ship a 64bit OS like they promised.. they shipped a 64bit OS that is compatible with 32 bit EFI machines.

And 3rd party drivers? What are you talking about?
I'm going to assume you are specifically refering to Kexts (kernel extensions) and not some piece of software that knows to talk to the USB port to query the scanner.

If you were old enough to go to WWDC [again, assuming your 12YO] You'd have a) seen the full court press on Apple's part to have developers write 64bit kexts and b) you'd know 32bit "drivers" [kexts] will work, though they might need some modification to run on the new Kernel. I'm not sure how you think Apple could significantly rework the kernel and not have some issues with Code running in kernel space.
The transition, like the PPC to Intel move, is remarkably clean.

BTW.. I'm typing this from my Quad-Core Phenom running Windows 7 lest you think I'm merely an Apple Fan-Boy. My work MacBook Pro is downstairs.


"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997














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