This is the first in a series of previews of Apple’s newest OS: Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6). The release version of Snow Leopard won’t make its appearance until September 2009. It will be a little while after that before I release a hands-on review of the newest Mac OS. In the meantime, Apple has released enough information from its non-disclosure agreements to compile a preview of what you can expect in Snow Leopard.
Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) marks a turning point in Apple’s OS development. It chose to use Snow Leopard to clean out the dust bunnies that had accumulated in OS X over the years. By doing so, Apple created a faster, leaner OS that is less likely to have stability problems and should prove to be a superior foundation for things to come.
Apple also broke with another OS X tradition. It will release Snow Leopard in both a full retail version and, a first for OS X, a low-cost upgrade for current Tiger and Leopard users.
Snow Leopard - For Intel Only
First off, Snow Leopard is for Intel Macs only. This will upset a few Mac users, but part of Apple’s strategy with Snow Leopard is to remove support for older technology, so the new OS can be faster, leaner, and more stable. I have a few PowerPC Macs I won’t be able to update, but I still think the tradeoff is a good one.
Snow Leopard - Install
Installing Snow Leopard should be a much faster process. Not only is the OS footprint smaller by 6 GB, but the installer itself has been streamlined as well. During installation, the installer will check any applications that are present to ensure they will work correctly with the new 64-bit OS. If not, they will be flagged and moved to their own folder. You will still be able to use these applications, but Apple sets them aside so you’ll know they may not behave as expected, and that you should look for updates. I don’t expect any applications designed for Tiger or Leopard to have problems. Applications that have not been updated since then may be suspect.
Snow Leopard - Upgrades Are Possible
Apple will be offering Snow Leopard in both upgrade and full retail versions. The installer will determine whether an earlier version of the OS is present, either on the target hard drive or on an OS X Leopard Install DVD. I suspect that used Leopard Install DVDs will be going up in value soon.
In the next preview, we will look at using Snow Leopard.
Snow Leopard Highlights
- 64-bit OS; most included Apple applications are 64-bit as well.
- Grand Central Dispatch easily distributes applications across multiple processor cores.
- New Finder written for 64-bit OS.
- Microsoft Exchange support allows you to use Mail, iCal, and Address Book directly with an Exchange Server account.
- Open CL allows the use of graphics processors to perform general-purpose computing tasks.
- Faster Time Machine backups
- High-resolution iChat video
- QuickTime X, a new media player with optimized codecs