Mac OS X "Snow Leopard" Revealed at WWDC '08

Fulfilling the many rumors of a Mac OS-related announcement at WWDC in San Fransisco today, Apple [NASDAQ: APPL] unveiled a new version of its OS X "Leopard" operating system, dubbed "Snow Leopard," that is big on pragmatic improvements but rather lacking in glamor. Apple is framing the new release as a collection of tweaks, many of which are meant to accomodate new hardware; Snow Leopard will involve omptimized support for multiple-core processors, as well as compatibility with up to 16TB -- that's terabytes -- of RAM, and include support for GPUs, or graphics processing units. Apple is also boasting improved QuickTime multimedia software and baked-in support for Microsoft Exchange.

Explaining in more detail Snow Leopard's improvements, Apple execs described a new technology they're calling "Grand Central," which allows programmers to more easily write software that takes advantage of multicore processing. They also discussed improvements to QuickTime that were pioneered on the iPhone, and should improve the efficiency of playback and optimization for modern media formats. Lastly, Apple announced improvements to their Safari browser, which the company says should handle JavaScript over 50% faster, giving users a snappier feel when interacting with Web 2.0 sites and applications.

Perhaps the most telling addition to OS X's suite of functions is its support for Exchange, which will finally enable Macs to operate holistically in a Windows-centric enterprise setting. While Apple does not presently have a corporate sales staff, the company has seen increasing interest (and dollars) from business customers in the last several years -- and the addition of Exchange functionality may be a sign that Cupertino is finally actively courting that sector.

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