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Apple Announces Snow Leopard Launch Date

Gordon Kelly


Apple Announces Snow Leopard Launch Date

So it will beat Windows 7 out the door...

"Apple today announced that Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard will go on sale Friday, August 28 at Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers, and that Apple's online store is now accepting pre-orders," stated the company in a formal release. "Snow Leopard builds on a decade of OS X innovation and success with hundreds of refinements, new core technologies and out of the box support for Microsoft Exchange. Snow Leopard will be available as an upgrade for Mac OS X Leopard users for $29."

What are these innovations? To recap: highlights include support for Microsoft Exchange server, all core apps now written in 64bit (Mail and Time Machine benefit substantially), GPU-exploiting OpenCL and Grand Central Dispatch tech to assist app optimisation with multicore CPUs.

On top of this Finder has been rewritten to produce more accurate and faster results, QuickTime X gets a UI overhaul along with basic video editing tools and uploading functionality. Handwriting recognition is added to multi-touch Mac trackpads and Snow Leopard will have just half the install footprint of Leopard, saving 6GB of drive space. It is however Intel only.

Yes, these are more tweaks than revelations. Apple itself describes Snow Leopard as a "Finely tuned" version of Leopard. Consequently, I suspect some will scoff at the $29 (£25) fee ($49 {£39} for a three licence family pack) for what could potentially be described as a Service Pack. By contrast, many may consider Windows 7 the long overdue service pack for Windows Vista (and at greater cost) so we'll leave it up to you guys to argue with one another.

Either way, PCs and Macs are both about to get substantially better - and that (surely we can all agree?) is a good thing...


Apple UK Snow Leopad Pre-order Page


August 24, 2009, 7:12 pm

Will new Macs continue to have Leopard installed - or will Snow Leopard replace it? Curious as I'm grabbing a Mac this weekend.


August 24, 2009, 7:47 pm

@Darfuria - I understand that anyone who buys a new Mac within a month of Snow Leopard's release date is entitled to a free upgrade.

Tony Walker

August 24, 2009, 8:15 pm

It's £7.95 to get into the "Up-to-Date" program if you bought your Mac with Leopard between June 8th and the date Snow Leopard is released.

£25 quid though for the full version! Thought they said we'd only be paying £19 in the UK.


August 24, 2009, 8:21 pm

Apple are still shipping new Macs with Leopard, and I imagine expecting people buying them to go thru the up-to-date programme and claim theiur copy of Snow Leopard for £7.95, I expect all new Macs purchased on or after August 28th will ship with Snow Leopard pre-installed, or for a breif perioud may ship with Leopard and a 'drop-in DVD' upgrade for Snow Leopard :)

Robin Kelly

August 24, 2009, 8:24 pm

@Darfuria - from Apple's web site "If you&#8217ve purchased a qualifying computer or Xserve on or after June 8, 2009 that does not include Mac OS X Snow Leopard, you can upgrade to Mac OS X Snow Leopard for £7.95" I suspect if you buy a machine at the weekend tho from a Apple store it will already have Snow Leopard on it.


August 24, 2009, 8:38 pm

Good stuff, thanks :)


August 24, 2009, 9:01 pm

If Snow Leopard is equivalent to a service pack, then what does that make Windows 7, which is arguably offering even few changes (hidden or visible)than 10.6.

Yes, there's no new killer features, but rewriting the Kernel in 64-bit along with all of their apps is much more than "tweaks". Its tantamount to a whole rewrite of the OS! That you won't really notice that there's been many changes at all is just a testament to how well the job has been done, and how badly MS have borked their transition to 64-bit.

At least Apple are acknowledging that Leopard wasn't really all it could have been and that they needed to do a lot of background work in order to keep their system cobweb free. MS are trying to hide that 7 is little more than Vista.1 in so many ways.

And whilst I might come off as being a huge massive fanboy, Im merely trying to highlight how far from the truth calling Snow Leopard's changes tweaks is.


August 24, 2009, 9:03 pm

I wonder if the 28th is the shipping date for Snow Leopard, or will orders be despatched before then? Just ordered my copy on the Apple web-site, so I hope it comes by the 28th :)


August 24, 2009, 10:19 pm

@Stefan: 'Tweaks' might be Gordon's choice of words, but he's merely reflecting Apple, themselves referring to Snow Leopard as an incremental update. That's why it's called 'Snow Leopard' and not 'Civet cat' or any one of a number of other possible feline designations. That's also why it costs $29 and not $79.

Yes, the substantial changes are more than just skin deep, but Apple know such things aren't easy to sell to the masses, so they don't.


August 24, 2009, 10:41 pm

I felt this was a nicely balanced article Gordon, well done. Not showing too much bias towards Apple or MS. I think this release more than anything shows the power of 64 bit computing. The whole upgrade vs. Service Pack thing has been done to death a million times with previous releases. It's just the way Apple works. While I personally think it's a bit cheeky of Apple to charge for it, as it brings few software changes it's an update people can happily skip if they don't feel they need the performance benefits it brings.

@Stefan: sigh. fanboy. Windows 7 brings hundreds of interface and software changes (and performance improvements), Snow has almost none. Windows has come in 32 & 64 bit flavours since XP. Whatever are you wittering on about? Leopard is fine as a 32 bit OS, but it's even better as 64 bit. It's just a compiler switch :-P


August 24, 2009, 11:52 pm


Converting to 64-bit doesn't require a rewrite - just a few changes to the code that accesses memory, and running it through a different compiler.

Also, MS didn't bork the transition to 64-bit; that was done just fine.

It's Vista that's borked.


August 25, 2009, 12:01 am

I think this is substantially more than a service pack, being the main transition to 64bit. I think its good that Apple has felt secure enough to get off the feature treadmill for one release to update the core of the OS and also charge a reasonable fee for it.

I'm looking forward to Win7 too, but that seems overpriced to me.


August 25, 2009, 1:04 am

@Chris: Alright, but its fairly poor use of artistic license. The outward appearance might not be much different (as you said, its in the name), but he'd just made a big list of several major underlying overhauls and innovations. Grand Central, OpenCL, everything being 64-bit and Quicktime getting its first proper upgrade in almost 10 years... They're way way more than just tweaks, and way more than what you'd expect from and what would be possible with a service pack.

In comparison, Windows 7 has removed plenty functionality and the vast majority of changes are superficial, with only a small amount of tweaking to the underlying system from Vista. Aside from the GUI, almost everything in W7 is practically one version number higher than in Vista. Now that is a service pack, but this is just how MS roll. '98 was a fix for '95. XP was a fix for 2000, and now 7 is a fix for Vista.

I don't think it really matters how Apple or MS market their products. The surface of the argument should have been penetrated a bit deeper than what it was, and the changes shouldn't have been dismissed out of hand (and yeah, I realise the irony given what I've just said about W7).


August 25, 2009, 2:52 pm

@Ryan: Converting to 64-bit doesn't require a rewrite - just a few changes to the code that accesses memory, and running it through a different compiler.

You make it sound so easy. :)

Actually accessing memory is probably one of the easiest parts, eg. a void *, will just be fine converted to 64bit from 32bit. One of the biggest problems when converting to 64bit is just simple data structures.

eg. If you had a simple data structure like ->

struct {

integer a;


Now the above looks so innocent doesn't it?, unfortunately that integer will now be 64bits wide, rather than 32bits. Now we could assume every integer was 64bits wide and recompile our whole OS, but the OS would be pretty useless, because you cannot just assume all integers are now 64bits wide, eg. A networking protocol has very exact data structures, File Systems, graphic cards etc also.

Because of legacy code, you can bet your bottom dollar that there are thousands of places where such data structures exist.

btw. A better version ->

struct {

int32 a;


So if they had been exact with the data structures in the first place, then just a recompile might have been on the cards. IOW: yes, where paying for MacOS programmers for not writing there structures correctly in the first place. :)


August 25, 2009, 4:02 pm

Is there any difference from the £25 Snow Leopard for all Leopard users, and the £7.95 upgrade route for new Mac users? Any subtle differences at all? If there are then I wouldn't mind paying the 25 quid.


August 25, 2009, 4:21 pm

@Stefan: I never said that Snow Leopard was merely a service pack. Clearly they're pitching it as 'Leopard, but better'. IMHO that's exactly what it is - more than a service pack but less than a new OS. The name, the price and the pitch all indicate as such. Bravo Apple for being consistent.

I'm not going to get into an argument over whether Windows 7 is worthy as a new OS or not, other than to point you at this:


And yes, the prices are way too high. That's something Apple got right from the start.


August 25, 2009, 5:00 pm

@GoldenGuy. Nope, none at all. The disk might look a little different, but the software itself is identical.

@HK. I recognise that there's plenty of changes for the better in W7, otherwise I wouldn't have ordered it. I was fairly deliberately painting a one sided view point of W7. But what for you is the killer feature in W7? The snap to edge of windows? the start menu search? being able to turn of UACs? The improved toolbar? or is it being able to turn off a lot of unnecessary features?

They're fairly minor interface changes really. As are all the interface changes in Snow Leopard, its just that Snow Leopard has a lot of significant background changes which will speed up the system and help developers get the best out of the hardware on offer.

@HK & Ryan. 64-bit in windows has been a horrible transition. XP 64-bit was atrocious with poor driver support, poor software compatibility and poor stability. 64-bit Vista was much better thanks improvements to the confusingly named SysWOW64, but is still far from friendly with all of the 64 and 32 bit applications and drivers being completely distinct and separate.

In comparison, Snow Leopard has all the apps being rewritten in 64-bit, whilst, thanks to the fat binaries, having it completely seamless to the user whether you're running 64-bit apps or 32-bit.

Microsoft's very divided approach to the switch over has slowed 64-bit adoption across the industry. Having 32-bit versions of Vista bundled on clearly 64-bit machines, MS not pressuring companies for 64-bit drivers etc. etc.


August 25, 2009, 5:33 pm

I'm not totally clear yet as to how users using Tiger or others are meant to upgrade to Snow Leopard. My Apple account manager isn't in a hurry to reply to my email... anyone else know?


August 26, 2009, 4:55 pm

@Shaun - had to dig a little on their site, but this is what Apple has to say if you're using Tiger:

"Upgrading from Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger.

If your Intel-based Mac is running Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger, purchase the Mac Box Set (when available), which is a single, affordable package that includes Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard; iLife &#821709, with the latest versions of iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, iWeb and iDVD; and iWork &#821709, Apple&#8217s productivity suite for home and office including Pages, Numbers and Keynote."

This'll cost you £129.

Now, this is great value for what you get, but even the fanboy in me would turn my nose up at not being able to buy Snow Leopard on its own if that's all I wanted.

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