We knew we weren’t going to have to wait too long for Snow Leopard (10.6) to make its appearance on store shelves, but according to MacRumors, things just got a little more specific courtesy of a slide from a conference presentation. Apple’s Director of Engineering for […]

We knew we weren’t going to have to wait too long for Snow Leopard (10.6) to make its appearance on store shelves, but according to MacRumors, things just got a little more specific courtesy of a slide from a conference presentation.

Apple’s Director of Engineering for their Unix Tech branch, Jordan Hubbard, spoke at the Large Installation System Administration (LISA) conference last week, and his slide deck included the gem pictured here. His topic was the evolution of OS X from large servers to embedded platforms, which featured the release schedule pictured, with a fairly specific (compared to vague “one year” timelines talked about when Snow Leopard was announced at WDC 2008) Q1 2009 date of arrival.

If Snow Leopard does indeed arrive in the first quarter of next year, it will have beat the anticipated one year timeline by a considerable margin. Given that the upcoming version of OS X is primarily focused on delivering stability and performance improvements, rather than an extensive list of new features, it is quite possible that we could see it reach release in the first few months of 2009. Current Mac computers have a degree of untapped hardware potential that Snow Leopard will take full advantage of. A sped up timeline for the OS could then be an attempt to quell or distract from some very vocal early disappointments regarding Apple’s new notebooks, over things like the lack of FireWire on MacBooks, trackpad issues, and most recently, HDCP problems.

The earlier release might also be a direct response to Microsoft’s decision to aim for a 2009 release for Windows 7, which had previously been expected in 2010. Leopard’s release followed Vista’s by almost a year, which ended up in Apple netting a lot of dissatisfied Windows customers. This time around, Apple may be trying a different approach, trying to beat Windows 7 (essentially a Vista upgrade) out the gate with Snow Leopard (essentially a Leopard upgrade). It’ll work especially well to be first to market if Windows 7 disappoints, since it will give the impression that Cupertino can issue better improvements faster than their Redmond competitors.

Will you be first in line for Snow Leopard if it drops early next year, or do you plan on getting a little more mileage out of Leopard?

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  1. I’ll probably be waiting in line for it, just as I was for Leopard. I must be a masochist because I actually enjoy fighting through the early adopter bugs :)

  2. So, when Snow Leopard drops, I’m assuming all Macs sold at that point will include it(?)

  3. @David B
    I’d assume so. Traditionally Apple doesn’t release an OS iteration without including it with all shipping machines.

  4. What will be included in Snow Leopard other then stability and performance updates?

    Why would they come out with a new OS just for that when they could just have that as a weekly system update?

    What’s the incentive for people to buy it if it won’t have any new or noteworthy changes?

  5. In my opinion the biggest advantages in adopting Snow Leopard are:

    – true 64 bit apps all through the OS, including a redesigned Cocoa Finder
    – ability to tackle all the hidden power of existing hardware: multiple cores, GPU, 64 bits
    – and, of course, enhanced stability

    Most users may not noticed these advantages as they’re changes under the hood, but benchmarks may show in numbers the real gain.

  6. @Andrew- It’s likely that it’s not a point release because of the depth of the changes. Cocoa Finder and full hardware utilization are going to be huuuuuge changes, and the work on the kernel necessary to bring them about – as well as a downloadable point update – would have to be correspondingly huge.

  7. @Hobbes Doo –

    It probably hasn’t been THAT many times, but it seems like I’ve been told a few times that this hardware or that OS is really 64 bit. “no, this time we mean it!” -and then it turns out some aspect of my system wasn’t 64 bit.

    Just say’n.

    I’m hoping Snow Leopard truly is focused on clean up and optimization. If so, the rest of the industry could learn a lesson. Too many products rushed to market these days with WAY too many holes. A little catch-up is a good idea.

  8. Back when it was originally announced, wasn’t there a consensus that this was going to be a free or significantly reduced-price upgrade?

    It’s not easy to convince consumers they should plunk down $100 for something which has only two or three visibly new features.

  9. @Kyle: I never heard it was going to be free but I have heard it will be a lot cheaper than a “full” OS upgrade.

  10. Well, it does have that one killer app: full Exchange integration. I’d like it if Mail could do push with other Email services, but it’s not a deal-breaker. The real attraction is being able to have iCal, Address Book, and Mail sync with an Outlook-based exchange server. I’m anxious to see that.


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