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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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By gstrickler on 8/24/2009 7:56:09 PM , Rating: 2
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.
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.

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