After a period of downtime early Monday morning, Apple has reinstated their online store with one seminal addition: the ability to preorder Mac OS X, dubbed Snow Leopard, for shipping on August 28.
Unlike most major revisions to the candy-coated OS, version 10.6 will be available for only $30. There aren't any major wow-inducing improvements, but a lot of speed-tuning went into the update. Among the advantages: faster sleep and wake for your Mac, "dozens" of UI improvements for all Apple apps, new processor-architecture support, and a new graphics engine. Another improvement: Microsoft Exchange support in Apple Mail.
Most important, though, will be the addition of QuickTime X, a major update to Apple's dominant multimedia software. Quality, speed and usability will get improvements, but QuickTime is also up for some new features: the new version will let you capture video and upload it directly to your iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, YouTube or MobileMe without even opening a Web browser or worrying about encoding. Another bonus: HTTP video streaming, which makes it easy to stream content off a low-tech Web server. It will also be able to adjust to available bandwidth, make HTTP video more accessbible to mobile devices and other low-power gizmos.