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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: 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.

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