Mac Corner: What Will Snow Leopard Mean to Me?

By Larry Grinnell, Palm Beach Phoenix Apple Users Group

larry grinnellAt Apple’s recently held World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC), the big news was the new iPhone 3Gs, as well as a refreshed and less-costly MacBook Pro line (except for one model, say goodbye to the plastic MacBooks).

Almost lost in the hoopla was the official announcement of Apple’s latest operating system update, MacOS X 10.6, also known as Snow Leopard.

More evolutionary than revolutionary in nature, Snow Leopard could be described as a tweak here, a bug fix there, and a few new features to make it worthwhile to upgrade. The reality is pretty different.

Oh, before I go much further, note that Snow Leopard is for Intel Macs only. This spells the end of official new product support for the PowerPC platform. Expect that updates and enhancements for software written for PowerPC-based Macs will rapidly fade away as Snow Leopard’s launch date approaches. If you have an office full of older PowerPC-based Macs (G3, G4, and G5), this will affect you.

You won’t be able to advance beyond Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5). Apple will provide limited bug fixes and security patches for another year or two, but other than that, welcome to Deadendsville. Some Tiger (MacOS X 10.4) users have been in this boat for a while now, stuck in Tiger so they can continue to run “Classic” (MacOS 9 and earlier) applications on their PowerPC machines. But I digress …

MacOS X 10.6 is now a full 64-bit operating system. The main benefit for users is the ability to install and use more random access memory (RAM) — in theory, up to 16 billion gigabytes (!).  In reality, Snow Leopard was designed to support up to 16 terabytes of RAM. Still impressive, though not exactly practical today, but who knows what will be available in five years, or ten? In the meantime, however, you can still use all of your 32-bit software without a worry.

The Finder has been completely rewritten from the ground up to perform more efficiently on Intel-powered Macs, but looks no different than the Finder it replaces. Apple claims anywhere from 1.4 to 1.7 times faster performance for many Finder operations.

Grand Central is a new feature that makes better use of all the cores of today’s multi-core processors even if the application software wasn’t designed to use the added performance of more than one core of a processor.

Business users and IT folks should be pleased to know that Microsoft Exchange Server support has been integrated into Snow Leopard, which should make it much easier to integrate Macs into a Windows-centric email system while using familiar applications like Apple’s Mail program. It also integrates iCal and the Address book to provide calendaring and contact support from an Exchange server.

Through more efficient file compression techniques, Snow Leopard takes up to 6 gigabytes less disk space to install, which also results in faster installations — up to 45 percent faster claims Apple. This is something the IT folks will appreciate.

QuickTime has been improved, and for the first time, parts of the application that previously had to be activated with the $29.95 QuickTime Pro option are now included, so you can do quick video edits right from your QuickTime Player window.

These are just a few highlights of the upcoming MacOS X 10.6. The best part, for current Leopard owners, is the price: $29.95! If you buy a qualifying Mac on or after June 8,  through late December, you can buy it for $9.95!

MacOS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) ships in September.


Mac Corner runs every Wednesday only in Palm Beach Click to read the previous column.


About Larry Grinnell: Larry has been working with Macintosh and Windows PCs for over 25 years and worked as a senior technical writer and IT support professional for a major midwest-based consumer electronics and telecommunications equipment manufacturer here in South Florida. His musings on a wide variety of topics from computers to jazz guitar to strange foreign cars from the 1950s can be viewed at the website. Click here to reach him by email.

palm beach phoenix logoWriters of this column are members of the Palm Beach Phoenix Apple User Group, a nonprofit organization for Apple Computing Device Users, recognized by Apple Inc., with the purpose of providing educational training and coaching to its members (students, professionals and seniors alike) in a cordial social environment. The club meets the second Saturday of each month from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Fire Station #2, 4301 Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach (just two block south of Southern Boulevard). Click here to visit their website. Click here to reach them by email.


effective affordable advertising the outlook

house ad for nancy proffitt column only in palm beach
palm beach
JULY 15, 2009 click to go home
click to go back to the top
Delray's Online Business and Community Newspaper