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Next-Gen Mac OS X 'Snow Leopard' Coming in 2009

At its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) Monday, Apple released preliminary details of "Snow Leopard," the forthcoming successor to Mac OS X 10.5 ("Leopard") and the next major revision to the Mac operating system.

The new OS will focus on performance, according to Apple, "rather than focusing primarily on new features."

"We have delivered more than a thousand new features to OS X in just seven years and Snow Leopard lays the foundation for thousands more," said Bertrand Serlet, Apple senior vice president of Software Engineering, in a statement released today. "In our continued effort to deliver the best user experience, we hit the pause button on new features to focus on perfecting the world's most advanced operating system."

What does this mean? For one, Mac OS X is going through an optimization period, refining performance on multi-core processors through a new technology code-named "Grand Central" and taking greater advantage of GPUs through the adoption of OpenCL ("Open Computing Language"), which, as Apple described it, "lets any application tap into the vast gigaflops of GPU computing power previously available only to graphics applications." OpenCL is a proposed open standard.

Further, now Leopard will increase the practical software limit on system memory up to 16TB.

Other changes revealed today include:

  • The introduction of QuickTime X, which will be optimized for "modern audio and video formats";
  • A new version of Safari, Apple's Web browser, which promises a 53 percent increase in JavaScript performance to enhance the experience of Web 2.0 applications; and
  • For the enterprise, native support for Microsoft Exchange 2007 in Mail, iCal, and Address Book.

Apple said Snow Leopard will ship in about a year.

About the Author

Dave Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's educational technology online publications and electronic newsletters.

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