The Second Coming of Leopard

Every so often, operating systems need a little bit of TLC in the form of a major system upgrade. In Apple's case, they once again hold true on their 18-month release cycle and bring us Snow Leopard, the next incarnation of the OS X computing platform for the Macintosh.

0906snowleo_screenAt first glance, you may not notice any physical changes to the look-and-feel of the OS, but don't let that fool you. Under the hood is a sleek 64-bit engine for what could be the smoothest running version of this computing platform to date.

Finder and Core Technologies: Apple rewrote the Finder from the ground up to provide a more responsive experience and to take advantage of 64-bit processing and, a new core technology, Grand Central Dispatch.  Benchmarking puts JPEG icon refresh at 1.4x faster than Leopard and PDF icon refresh at 1.7x.  What does this mean for you?  Faster load times for icons translates into faster access to your documents.  Apple promises we can say goodbye to SPODing issues due to Finder lag.  A more responsive Finder means you can access your documents and photos that much faster giving an all new meaning to productivity on the Mac platform.  By adding the OpenCL API in Snow Leopard, you can truly harness the power of your GPU in ways moving beyond mere gaming.  The most impressive part of all the enhancements to the core system of OS X is its new, smaller footprint.  At 6GB fully installed, Apple estimates enough freed space for about 1500 songs in your iTunes library.  (The question is - do you have an iPod large enough to hold your new treasures?)

QuickTime X: editing finally comes to this long-standing staple on the Mac OS. With a method similar to the drag-editing feature on the soon-to-be released iPhone 3.0 software, you can now edit screen-captured video from applications like CamTwist. For those (like me) that do video streming from multiple camera sources, this feature alone will save you hours importing and cutting from applications like iMovie and Final Cut. Add in a streamlined video interface reminiscent of the iTunes video contols, and you've got yourself a whole new QuickTime - finally one for the rest of us. More on the QuickTime X breakthrough...

Safari:  With the Safari web browser just out of beta testing, Apple has produced a speed demon with JavaScript and CSS rendering while keeping the rendering engine WebKit-based.  Safari is the only browser to date that has passed ACID 3 testing for compliance with standards used to build dynamic, next-generation websites, including CSS, JavaScript, XML, and SVG.  What makes the browser so speedy with JavaScript rendering is the advanced coding engine called Nitro.  With this new bytecode engine, the browser executes script code 4x faster than Firefox 3.1 and up to 6x faster than Microsoft's latest incarnation - Internet Explorer 8.

For more information on these and other refinements to the features in Mac OS X in Snow Leopard 10.6, visit http://www.apple.com/macosx/refinements/.

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