Apple Introduces Snow Leopard – First Take

Next up, Snow Leopard. Apple is officially calling this 10.6 As previously noted, it’s a full 64 bit OS and works with Intel Macs only. This is the OS release that spells the final swan song for Power PC. Not a surprise and let’s face it, if you’re not on an Intel Mac, it’s time to move on. Lots of stuff that falls into three core buckets, Refinements, Technologies, and Exchange.

In terms of Refinements, Apple’s made some nice tweaks to the UI. Expose, for example is now integrated into the dock. Safari 4 is the default browser (and it’s now golden for all platforms as well as of today). Apple claims it’s now almost 8x faster than IE. Wow. There’s also a new version of Quicktime that supports lots of good stuff like hardware acceleration, color sync and HTTP streaming.

With tech, Apple’s got a lot of new stuff that will definitely appeal to this audience. As mentioned, Snow Leopard is 64 bit so there is essentially no memory limit (there is a cap but it’s 16 billion gigabytes). All the OS apps are now 64 bit so they’ll perform accordingly. In addition Apple has integrated multi-core support directly into the OS so devs don’t have to deal with threads. Called Grand Central Dispatch is the name of the manager and developers can deal with it at the app and API level. Nice.

From an end user view, the biggest feature is Exchange support. Yep, Snow Leopard has direct support for calendar, address book and email for Exchange 2007. Excellent. This is probably one of the most important things Apple has done and totally opens the Mac to the business market. While Entourage has supported Exchange for some time, Apple’s integration might obviate the need for that going forward. Combined with iWork, Apple now has very credible software support for business functionality.

Devs get a release today and general release will be in Sept. Best news? Pricing is $29 for a single license and $49 for the family pack. That pretty much makes this a no brainer. There’s an OS war brewing (Apple took a few Vista, Win 7 shots) and at this point, it’s looking to me like Snow Leopard comes out ahead. It will be fun to put these two things head to head in final release.

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