Snow Leopard is out

After all most two years of development and testing Apple has released it’s new operating system on the 28th August 2009. It is two months earlier than previously planned but many blog sites have correctly predicted the early arrival. According to Apple, this release is all about refinement not reinvention. They have done lot work cleaning up the code and refining the existing features of Leopard to make it faster and even more user friendly. It also includes couple of important new features as well.

Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard

The Snow Leopard is taking the advantage of 64-bit processor power. Nearly all system applications — including the Finder, Mail, Safari, iCal, and iChat — are now built with 64-bit code. This enables the Macs to address up to 16 terabytes of memory.

What are the major new features of Snow Leopard?
New look and new features in Exposé and Stacks
sls_tacks
Exposé is now integrated in the Dock, so when you click and hold an application icon in the Dock and all the windows for that application will unshuffle so you can quickly switch to another one. Exposé windows are now displayed in an organized grid, making it even easier for quick search. The stacks are now scrollable, so you can easily view all items. You can also navigate back and forth through folders in a stack to see all the files inside it.

QuickTime X
Snow Leopard comes with an optional new version of Quick Time known as QuickTime X. It has got rid of window frames and menu functions made available only when required. At other times they are not visible.
qtx
OpenCL
The new OpenCL technology takes the power of graphics processors and makes it available for general-purpose computing. No longer will graphics processors be limited to graphics-intensive applications such as games and 3D modeling. Now the developers can use OpenCL in their applications to greatly improved speed.

Grand Central Dispatch
Grand Central Dispatch (GCD) in Mac OS X Snow Leopard makes it much easier for developers to squeeze every last drop of power from multicore systems. With GCD, threads are handled by the operating system, not by individual applications. GCD-enabled programs can automatically distribute their work across all available cores, resulting in the best possible performance whether they’re running on a dual-core Mac mini, an 8-core Mac Pro, or anything in between.

Installation requires less space
Due to refinements done in the core system Snow Leopards saves up to 7GB of free space. As I was checking the capacity of the HDD, I also noticed that the size it displayed on Snow Leopard was different to Leopard. As it turns out Snow Leopard is calculating capacity in base 10 rather than base 2 which is used by Leopard. More information can be found here.

Installation
The installation went quit smooth. It took me around 40 min. for upgrading from Leopard. Although it is not official you may be able to upgrade to SL from Tiger. You should also aware that the Snow Leopard will not run on PPC based Macs.

Exchange Server support
exchange_support
Snow Leopard includes built-in support for the latest version of Microsoft Exchange Server. So you can use all the features and applications without having to install Microsoft products.

Read Mac volumes on Windows
Using Boot Camp 3.0, you can open and read files on Mac OS X volumes when booted into Windows. You can also copy photos, documents and other files from a Mac OS X volume into the Windows partition.

My verdict
I have seen a significant performance boost on my Core Duo Mac Mini with 1.5GB of RAM. Especially, Safari, Mail and other core applications run way faster than with Leopard. Viewing PDF documents on Preview is also much smoother than before. Now it is possible to restore any item accidently sent to Trash using “Take Back” option.

It should be noted that there are couple of applications still not running properly on Snow Leopard. Check out this link for compatibility issues.

I would strongly recommend any one running Leopard on an Intel Mac to upgrade to Snow Leopard. It is worth every penny!

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Categories: News & Rumors, Software