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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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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

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.


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