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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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By gstrickler on 8/25/2009 2:45:35 AM , Rating: 2
"There are none so blind as those who will not see."

If you can buy at a significant discount (not everyone can) and the item has high residual value when sold used, you can use that ability to buy at a discount to reduce (or in some cases eliminate) your cost of ownership.

For example, let's assume you can buy a machine at a 12% discount from retail. Further, because of it's high residual value, assume that machine will typically sell for about 75% of retail when it's used and 1 year old. That means you can buy now at 88% of retail, use it for a year, and sell at 75% of retail. Your net cost of ownership for 1 year is 13% of retail. If you're talking about a $2000 MacBook Pro, 13% of $2000 is $260. $260/year for a full featured notebook is pretty good by any measure.

In practice, it's not usually quite that cheap because to maintain the residual value, you'll probably need 3 years of AppleCare on the machine. In many cases, selling at 15-18 months old might work better. Despite that, I've actually made money on two of the Macs I've owned. I bought them at a notable discount, used them for 3-12 months and sold them for more (yes more) than I paid for them. The trick is buying a good machine in the first place and knowing when to sell it (and buy a new machine). The bottom line is that if you have access to purchasing items at a significant discount and those items have a high residual resale value, you can use those items for low cost, possibly even no cost (except for the depreciation of the currency). In a few cases, you might even make money on the deal.

It's rather like leasing a car. If you lease a car with a high residual value, your lease payments can be surprisingly low even on an "expensive" car. Lease a car with a lower residual value and your lease payments can be higher, even if the car is cheaper. Like auto leasing, this method of buying computers is not for everyone, but for some people it's very cost effective, and you always get to use the newest equipment.

I don't generally employ that method, I tend to keep computers for 3+ years, but there have been exceptions as noted above, so I know that it can work.


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