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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. 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: Ordered
By omnicronx on 8/24/2009 6:48:37 PM , Rating: 3
Taking this even further, OSX 10.5 already performs load balancing between the CPU and GPU for certain calculations with Open GL. As such the benefit of OpenCL is even less, as a similar system is already implemented.

RE: Ordered
By Pirks on 8/24/09, Rating: -1
RE: Ordered
By Alexstarfire on 8/24/2009 7:48:37 PM , Rating: 1
I think he was just talking about price wise. And I think having to spend $1800 Just to get up to the GT120 is much of an improvement. You really do almost have to get a Mac Pro to get something better than the 9400M. Only ones available on non-Mac Pros are the 9400M, 9600M, the $1800 iMac with a GT120 and the $2200 iMac with a GT130. That's it. I'm not sure how much a better GPU will help, but having to spend $1800 just so you get something better than a mobile GPU is quite sad.

RE: Ordered
By themaster08 on 8/25/2009 1:45:00 AM , Rating: 1
Just when I thought that liver donation got the best of you, you come back from the dead.

I even had your funeral song prepared....

RE: Ordered
By Pirks on 8/25/09, Rating: -1
RE: Ordered
By Alexstarfire on 8/25/2009 3:51:33 AM , Rating: 1
Not even an insult from you? I'm quite shocked that you have absolutely nothing to say against my facts.

RE: Ordered
By Pirks on 8/25/2009 4:56:31 AM , Rating: 2
What facts? About iMacs that have pretty powerful GPUs like Radeon 4850? Sure thing buddy, this is exactly why I called the omni's lies about Mac Pro. Any more questions on that?

RE: Ordered
By Alexstarfire on 8/25/2009 1:54:34 PM , Rating: 2
For $2000+ and for a $200 upgrade on a card that costs about half that brand new and at full price? I'm sorry, but it may seriously just as well be a Mac Pro. I've been saying the whole time that it's more about the price you can get them at and not just about what computers you can actually get it on.

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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