Apple to unleash first builds of Snow Leopard since WWDC

Posted:
in macOS edited January 2014
Apple is quietly preparing to equip some of its developers with the first pre-release copies of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard since an inaugural build was issued to attendees during its annual developers conference in June, AppleInsider has learned.



People familiar with the company's plans suggest that distribution will be extremely limited, as the software is believed to have undergone a number of enhancements since its earlier appearance. Members of the vast Apple Developer Connection network are among those who are unlikely to see the new builds, they say, at least during the initial phase.



Unlike major Mac OS X releases of years past, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard will mark a temporary departure from user-oriented feature implementations in favor of a focus on performance and stability. This will include a tremendous amount of effort towards laying a foundation that will support the future directions of the microprocessor and graphics industries for years to come.



With the chipmakers indicating that the future of PC performance will largely be driven by an increase in the number of cores per processor, rather than raw clock speed, Snow Leopard will include a feature called Grand Central, which will allow developers to easily author applications that take advantage of 2-, 4-, 8- and even higher-core Macs without extensive knowledge of multi-threading and load balancing.



Similarly, a feature called Open Computing Language (or OpenCL), will let any application tap into the vast gigaflops of GPU computing power previously available only to graphics applications. Snow Leopard will also raise the software limit on system memory up to a theoretical 16TB of RAM and introduce a new version of QuickTime optimized for modern audio and video formats.



Word that Apple is set to expand testing of Snow Leopard comes just weeks before the company is expected to return focus to its Mac business with the introduction of radically redesigned MacBooks and MacBook Pros. Mac OS X 10.5.6, the next update to its existing Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard operating system, is also expected to surface around that time, and has been rumored to include native Blu-ray support.



Since its pre-release debut in June, AppleInsider has covered a number of smaller discoveries surrounding Snow Leopard, such icon support of QuickLook, dramatically smaller application packages, and the system's new multi-touch framework and text processing features.



We've also recently kicked off our Road to Snow Leopard series with a four-part segment covering upcoming improvements to 64-bit support, and offering readers a look at how those under-the-hood enhancements will benefit every day use:



Road to Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard: 64-bits



Road to Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard: 64-Bits



Road to Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard: 64-bits, Santa Rosa, and more



Road to Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard: twice the RAM, half the price, 64-bits



Road to Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard: the future of 64-bit apps



Additional Snow Leopard news is aggregated on our Snow Leopard topics page.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 42
    this thing has to be the tablet os. I hope.
  • Reply 2 of 42
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    I hope they make it available to Select developers. I paid the $500 for this and I can't say what's on there, but so far very poor value.



    I am also eargerly awaiting the arrival of the WWDC '08 videos. Since it was sold out this year, I thought they would have doubled their efforts to get the videos up quickly, but apparently not.
  • Reply 3 of 42
    There will be user oriented features. mark my words.
  • Reply 4 of 42
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    . . .
  • Reply 5 of 42
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Unlike major Mac OS X releases of years past, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard will mark a temporary departure from user-oriented feature implementations in favor of a focus on performance and stability.



    I really wish the above included ."..in favour of back-end features....." in the sentence. People already complain that Apple's updates equate to Windows Service Packs because they have similar timeframes, and the announcement of no new features has just made it worse with SL, despite the prominent announcement of very advanced new features.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by trevorlsciact View Post


    There will be user oriented features. mark my words.



    They've already announced Exchange support in Mail and the SL preview has shown us several new UI features, but I'm sure we'll see many more that crop up.
  • Reply 6 of 42
    feynmanfeynman Posts: 1,087member
    I still think Snow Leopard will primarily be a maintenance release to a much larger, earth shattering, mind blowing release that will be 10.7.
  • Reply 7 of 42
    The talk about multi-touch and such doesn't make me think of a tablet (although they'll make the architecture scale) as much as it does an upgrade for the iPhone and iPod touch. It doesn't seem to get discussed much but those devices will definitely not be limited to point upgrades. It makes sense that they're as disappointed with OS X Leopard as they are OS X Mobile, it would also make sense that they're going to time the launch of both OSes since it's relatively the same code (probably now more so than ever).
  • Reply 8 of 42
    "introduce a new version of QuickTime optimized for modern audio and video formats." BLU-RAY support.
  • Reply 9 of 42
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Feynman View Post


    I still think Snow Leopard will primarily be a maintenance release to a much larger, earth shattering, mind blowing release that will be 10.7.



    That makes it sound like a Windows Service Pack. The known details of SL are already far from simply being 'maintenance'.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AeronPrometheus View Post


    The talk about multi-touch and such doesn't make me think of a tablet (although they'll make the architecture scale) as much as it does an upgrade for the iPhone and iPod touch. It doesn't seem to get discussed much but those devices will definitely not be limited to point upgrades. It makes sense that they're as disappointed with OS X Leopard as they are OS X Mobile, it would also make sense that they're going to time the launch of both OSes since it's relatively the same code (probably now more so than ever).



    The kernel is the same, but their are a gross many differences between the OS X Mac and OS X iPhone. The MultiTouch framework in question seems to focus on the touchpad, which I think we'll see considerable advancements in when the new Mac notebook case change arrives.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by 8CoreWhore View Post


    "introduce a new version of QuickTime optimized for modern audio and video formats." BLU-RAY support.



    Blu-ray movie support will be done through DVD player or a similar program. QucikTime is not used for DVD playback for a very specific reason involving digital rights and Blu-ray movie DRM and HDCP has taken this to a whole 'nother level.
  • Reply 10 of 42
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I really wish the above included ."..in favour of back-end features....." in the sentence. People already complain that Apple's updates equate to Windows Service Packs because they have similar timeframes, and the announcement of no new features has just made it worse with SL, despite the prominent announcement of very advanced new features.



    ... but perhaps Apple NEEDS to make sure people don't see this version as a big thing.

    Let me go to an extreme (which is likely to be wrong)... to illustrate what I mean.



    Lets say Apple is looking at a fundamental underlying change to how the OS works, and knows that the unavoidable side effect is that it is going to break many applications, cause driver issues, and cause discontent - but it's GREAT for the future. The answer is to release an OS that people don't really care about... that they don't feel a burning desire to upgrade to. Give the app developers and driver developers time to make sure everything is smooth (hell.. give APPLE time to make sure everything is smooth). Then release 10.7 with the new underlying system and new bells and whistles (right around the release time of Windows 7).

    (Of course if they add Exchange integration to Mail on 10.6, they'll need to release the same integration to Mail on 10.5.)



    They did this with the Intel transition.... they made it seamless, they made it look like nothing was changing. I have no idea what degree of underlying changes is required for it to be something they'd rather HIDE from us. I assume to some degree we'd be talking about something similar to all the driver & app issues Vista had - but Apple won't market 10.6 as the answer to everyone's prayers and get user backlash from the incompatibilities.
  • Reply 11 of 42
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GregAlexander View Post


    ... but perhaps Apple NEEDS to make sure people don't see this version as a big thing.



    I think you are partially right in that Apple will not be supporting PPC so they won't people to think they are forcing them to upgrade to an Intel Mac... even though that has already been stated and will be stated even more once the PPC drop becomes official from Apple.



    Quote:

    Lets say Apple is looking at a fundamental underlying change to how the OS works, and knows that the unavoidable side effect is that it is going to break many applications, cause driver issues, and cause discontent.



    Each major version of OS X, with perhaps exception from 10.0 through 10.2, did break apps and driver support. 10.6 will surely do the same as there are too many underlying changes to the core OS that will be affected by the update.



    Quote:

    (Of course if they add Exchange integration to Mail on 10.6, they'll need to release the same integration to Mail on 10.5.)



    I think they will update Mail for 10.5 with Exchange support, but I don't see it as a 'need' as each version of Mail has been quite different.



    quote]They did this with the Intel transition.... they made it seamless, they made it look like nothing was changing.[/QUOTE]

    They did do a great job with that, but the changes there were with the CPU and chipsets, 10.6 already has been hanges to the UI. We've also heard rumours that they had been developing OS X to run on x86 since the beginning since NeXT ran on Intel.
  • Reply 12 of 42
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    Each major version of OS X, with perhaps exception from 10.0 through 10.2, did break apps and driver support. 10.6 will surely do the same as there are too many underlying changes to the core OS that will be affected by the update.



    Yeah that's true... how quickly I forgot. My wife still runs 10.4 due to Adobe/Quark issues (she uses multiple versions).



    Still, I'm not convinced that masking the 'transition' isn't their goal.



    Quote:

    will update Mail for 10.5 with Exchange, but I don't see it as a 'need' as each version of Mail has been quite different.



    It'd only be a 'need' if they wanted to minimise reasons for people to upgrade.



    For a while I've had the impression that Apple under sell their products. They let others say how good it is, and when there's a criticism it's usually not about something they ever promised it would do. BUT maybe I'm wrong.... might just be seeing one side.



    Quote:

    10.6 already has major changes to the UI.



    Does it? That would wipe my theory. What are the changes? (by major, I assume you mean significant enough that people other than 'the faithful' will want to change OSes to get the changes?)
  • Reply 13 of 42
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GregAlexander View Post


    Does it? That would wipe my theory



    I should not have used the word major, but it does have UI changes so it's not just back-end coding like the inclusion of x86 code like Tiger was, but there are UI changes that make it more than just a bug fix or performance update.
  • Reply 14 of 42
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I should not have used the word major, but it does have UI changes so it's not just the inclusion of x86 code like Tiger was, but there are UI changes that make it more than just a bug fix or performance update.



    Still, if I was right then they'd minimise anything unnecessary. Unless they were also going to add those interface changes to a simultaneous release of 10.5.11 (or whatever), but that's a stretch with little basis.



    Always interesting to watch and wonder.
  • Reply 15 of 42
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GregAlexander View Post


    Still, if I was right then they'd minimise anything unnecessary. Unless they were also going to add those interface changes to a simultaneous release of 10.5.11 (or whatever), but that's a stretch with little basis.



    Always interesting to watch and wonder.



    It will be fun to see a real demo of SL at MacWorld* and it will be nice to have frequent AI articles about Snow Leopard.



    * I'm assuming they won't do a demo at the Mac presentation later this month.
  • Reply 16 of 42
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    If they *are* dropping PPC support, then it makes sense not to add too many user-facing features so PPC people don't feel they are missing out on much by having to stick with 10.5. Yes, they will miss out on the back-end features but these are really only applicable to machines with many cores and high-powered video cards which is not them (with the possible exception of the Quad G5)



    The feature I would most like to see is res independence. My eyesight is not so great so I sometimes run my 1920 x 1200 monitor at 1280 x 800. With res. independence I could use those extra pixels for extra smoothness instead of disabling them.
  • Reply 17 of 42
    irelandireland Posts: 17,539member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by walshbj View Post


    this thing has to be the tablet os. I hope.



    They won't quite reveal those cards yet Bren. The snow, that's coming later.
  • Reply 18 of 42
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ascii View Post


    Yes, they will miss out on the back-end features but these are really only applicable to machines with many cores and high-powered video cards which is not them (with the possible exception of the Quad G5)



    There are articles that talk about multi-core PPCs not benefiting from Grand Central, and may actually become slower because of it, but it's well beyond by tech knowledge so I can't begin it.



    Quote:

    The feature I would most like to see is res independence. My eyesight is not so great so I sometimes run my 1920 x 1200 monitor at 1280 x 800. With res. independence I could use those extra pixels for extra smoothness instead of disabling them.



    Have you tried IR on the Leopard. It's still very, very broken, but there are apps that are very usable if you don't mind some visual bugs. If you use Dashboard at all then it's a no go as it alters the visual code in each widget, but not the original format size it's in so increasing the size means you don't see the whole widget.
    defaults write -g AppleDisplayScaleFactor x
    Where x equals the scaling and 1 is the default size, so 2 will double the size. Note: You have to relaunch an app for it to take effect and you can use sizes like 1.37.
  • Reply 19 of 42
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ascii View Post


    The feature I would most like to see is res independence. My eyesight is not so great so I sometimes run my 1920 x 1200 monitor at 1280 x 800. With res. independence I could use those extra pixels for extra smoothness instead of disabling them.



    Try this website:

    http://www.3dexpress.de/

    the app allows you to force any resolution on your monitor, worked wonders for me.
  • Reply 20 of 42
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    Have you tried IR on the Leopard. It's still very, very broken, but there are apps that are very usable if you don't mind some visual bugs. If you use Dashboard at all then it's a no go as it alters the visual code in each widget, but not the original format size it's in so increasing the size means you don't see the whole widget.
    defaults write -g AppleDisplayScaleFactor x
    Where x equals the scaling and 1 is the default size, so 2 will double the size. Note: You have to relaunch an app for it to take effect and you can use sizes like 1.37.



    Thanks. Yes, I have tried IR on Leopard. You can also use the program Quartz Debug in the developer tools to change the scale factor. Despite the graphical glitches (which as you say are quite extensive in some apps) I still put up with it for days on end, that is how much I am looking forward to this feature
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