Apple Reveals Mac OS X Snow Leopard

June 10, 2009 | Chris Maxcer | Comments 1

by Chris Maxcer

snowleopard300x250wctApple has pulled back the curtains hiding its latest version of Mac OS X, a.k.a. Snow Leopard. Apple boasts that Snow Leopard is more powerful and refined than Leopard. Best yet, Snow Leopard will ship as an upgrade for Mac OS X Leopard users in September 2009 for just $29.

“We’ve built on the success of Leopard and created an even better experience for our users from installation to shutdown,” notes Bertrand Serlet, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “Apple engineers have made hundreds of improvements so with Snow Leopard your system is going to feel faster, more responsive and even more reliable than before.”

Apple boasts that, to create Snow Leopard, Apple engineers “refined” 90 percent of the more than 1,000 projects in Mac OS X. So what’s that mean? Users will notice a more responsive Finder; Mail will load messages 85 percent faster and conduct searches up to 90 percent faster; Time Machine will be up to 50 percent faster on its initial backup; the Dock now has Exposé integration; and we’ll also get a 64-bit version of Safari 4 that boosts the performance of the Nitro JavaScript engine by up to 50 percent and is resistant to crashes caused by plug-ins.

Snow Leopard will also include an all new QuickTime X that has a redesigned player that lets users easily view, record, trim, and share video to YouTube, MobileMe, or iTunes®. And get this: Snow Leopard is half the size of the previous version, which frees up to 6GB of hard drive space after installation. Nice.

Plus, system applications including Finder, Mail, iCal, iChat, and Safari are all 64-bit. So what’s that deliver? Snow Leopard’s support for 64-bit processors, Apple says, makes use of large amounts of RAM, increases performance, and improves security while remaining compatible with 32-bit applications.

For business users, Snow Leopard builds support for Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 right into Mac OS X Mail, Address Book, and iCal so you can use these applications, Apples notes, to send and receive email, create and respond to meeting invitations, and search and manage your contacts with global address lists — all with your Microsoft Windows-using colleagues.

Lots of Tidbits

Snow Leopard is up to 75 percent faster when shutting down, twice as fast when waking from sleep with screen locking enabled, and up to 55 percent faster at joining wireless networks, Apple says.

Ever been unable to nail down an iChat session? Snow Leopard includes technology to address some of the most common router incompatibilities when video chatting with iChat. For instance, Apple notes that if iChat can’t make a direct connection to a buddy, it uses the AIM relay server, which acts as a known intermediary between computers. And with Snow Leopard, iChat requires only one-third the upstream bandwidth to deliver near DVD-quality, 640-by-480-resolution video chats. Leopard requires 900-Kbps upstream bandwidth while Snow Leopard requires just 300 Kbps.

Snow Leopard will also bring a whole new QuickTime player in QuickTime X. In addition to some slick interface improvements, there’s new functionality, too. With a single click, Apple notes, QuickTime Player will be able to capture audio or video using the built-in camera and microphone in your Mac. Even better, you’ll be able to trim your media and then send it to iTunes for syncing to an iPhone, iPod, and Apple TV. You can also use QuickTime Player to publish your media to MobileMe or YouTube.

More Cores

As multi-core hardware becomes more affordable and used by software developers, Snow Leopard will be ready to take full advantage of it. Apple is using a new technology called Grand Central Dispatch makes all of Mac OS X multicore aware and optimizes it for allocating tasks across multiple cores and processors. Grand Central Dispatch also makes it much easier for developers to create programs that utilize all the power of multicore systems.

There’s a lot more, of course, some of which Apple has highlighted on its Snow Leopard page.

While the upgrade will go for a rock-bottom $29, Apple’s also offering a Snow Leopard Family Pack, which is a single household, five-user license that will be available for just $49. For Tiger users with an Intel-based Mac, the Mac Box Set includes Mac OS X Snow Leopard, iLife ’09 and iWork ’09, and it’ll go for $169, with a Family Pack coming in at $229.

There’s no need to wait to upgrade to a new Mac, though — Apple has an Up-To-Date program that lasts through December 26, 2009 where new Mac buyers can get the upgrades free (though shipping and handling costs $9.95).

Snow Leopard requires a minimum of 1GB of RAM and is designed to run on any Mac computer with an Intel processor. Full system requirements can be found at Links:

Filed Under: Apple ActionFeaturedMac


About the Author: Chris Maxcer is editor and publisher of He's been writing about the tech industry for years. While he enjoys wicked cool gear and design, there's something to be said for turning it all off — or most of it — to go outside. To contact him, take a firstname.lastname guess at

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  1. Terry Kristof says:

    Can I use Skype service on Apples new Ipad?

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