Apple OS X 10.6 :Snow Leopard Roars


Apple has another winner with Mac OS X 10.6, also known as Snow Leopard. This version of the Macintosh operating system is the brainiest,brawniest and most beautiful consumer oriented OS available anywhere and it ships with the best built-in applications and utilities you can find. As its name suggests,this version builds on the strong foundation of OS X 10.5 (Leopard), and offers a smooth upgrade path for existing users (any Intel-based Mac will run it). But you're out of luck
if you still have a PowerPC-based Mac.

The new version looks almost identical to the previous one, so there's no new interface to learn. New features are tucked in unobtrusively on the old interface, so experienced users will find some pleasant surprises in
better-organized pop-up menus, as well as networking options, such as built-in support for Cisco VPN. Snow Leopard was also noticeably faster in my testing and requires less disk space.

Snow Leopard includes a few impressive visual changes, including QuickTime X, a completely new QuickTime player with improved performance, a sleek interface, and support for modern video features such as HTTP streaming. The biggest changes in Snow Leopard, however, are hidden under
its skin. Almost everything uses a new technology called Grand Central Dispatch (GCD), which shares tasks among the multiple cores of modern Intel CPUs and frees developers from the headache of splitting software tasks into separate "threads."

In addition, almost all the applications in Snow Leopard are now written in 64-bit code for greater speed and increased memory access compared to 32-bit apps. Safari already speedy under Leopard now renders JavaScript rich pages faster.

Another major new feature is full support for Microsoft Exchange accounts in Apple Mail, so Mac users now have full access to Exchange's calendar invitations and global address lists instead of using Entourage. Users can also integrate those with the Mac OS Address Book and iCal calendar.
And you get the enhanced Expose feature,which displays reduced images of all open windows at the same time.

The only weakness of Mac OS X 10.6 isn't in the operating system itself but in the range of applications available for it. Snow Leopard gets more things right than any other operating system, and it throws in striking good looks as a bonus.

Apple OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard)
$29 direct; 5-license family pack, $49.

PROS :Fast Elegant. Superb suite of built-in basic apps. Easy to use for those familiar with previous versions. Silky-smooth upgrading for existing users.
CONS :A few minor interface glitches.Lacks the range of applications and
compatible hardware available for Windows.

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