One of the most incredible rumor for Apple's WWDC 2008 was a new version of Mac OS X called "Snow Leopard".
Such rumor has been confirmed by Steve Jobs on stage and by a press release yesterday.
Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard will not bring any new end-user feature but it will focus on performance and lay the foundations for the next releases.
...What does it mean in practice? We' have gathered all the information appeared on various websites:
- New Quicktime ("Quicktime X"): this is one of the oldest pieces of Mac OS X; even if you have never opened Quicktime a part of Quicktime is loaded, for example, in Safari whenever you watch movies. Quicktime has been the source for various security holes and hopefully Apple is going to rewrite it from scratch. Quicktime X is going to deliver better performance and support to the latest codecs.
- Hard drive space used by Mac OS X: dramatically reduced; this is a very good news: every major OS update has stolen hundreds MBs of my hard drive space.
- Out-of-the-box Microsoft Exchange support: just like the iPhone now also your Mac will be able to talk to Exchange servers.
- Extended 64-bit support: Leopard support for 64-bit processors will be extended to more layers of the OS. Maximum RAM allowed will be 16 TB (16384 GB)
- Multicore support made much easier for developers: thanks to a new technology called "Grand Central" developers will be able to easily build applications that take advantage of all the power of the multicore technology; tasks will be allocated to different cores (and different processor) automatically, optimizing the processing power.
- You probably know that Mac OS X already optimizes your Mac's resources dividing the load between the processor (CPU) and the GPU (used for all the graphical rendering); with Snow Leopard developers will be able to exploit GPU (that are rapidly becoming as fast as processors) power for general-purpose computing. OpenCL (Open Computing Language) makes it possible for developers to efficiently tap the vast gigaflops of computing power currently locked up in the graphics processing unit (GPU).
- PowerPC support dropped. I think that Apple is going to make Mac OS X much faster; dropping PowerPC support would make it easier (less work). Moreover the Snow Leopard beta handed to developers at WWDC is Intel-only.
Snow Leopard is scheduled to ship in a year from now: hopefully we will get a deeper insight in January 2009 (at MacWorld) and have it installed on our Macs in summer 2009.