Blog Post

Snow Leopard Coming in Q1 2009

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

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?

16 Responses to “Snow Leopard Coming in Q1 2009”

  1. I switched to Mac after a year and a half using Gentoo Linux. Really fast operating system and very flexible. Everyone that knows what Gentoo is know that people like me are not afraid of adopter bugs. I was used to give 1 hour a day to tweak my OS. Before that I was
    windows user.

    I will get the Snow Leopard as early as I can get my hands on a copy. I like to play with new technology and see where the consumer market is going.

    On the question of why will people buy this kind of upgrade I have this to say:
    Image what you can do with the new MacBook Air now. Now lets think on how Snow Leopard will change this Machine. Computers are changing software is changing not the task we do. We were watching TV quality movies 10 years ago and we were happy. Now we want Full HD. Why the hell people want GBit internet connection in there home? Streaming video anyone?

    All the services will have the same idea just a better quality. And to get better quality you need better computers to do the math for you!

    And believe me! When I sit down with my Air or MacBook next to you in the coffee show and I do some cool things that you do with your MacBookPro power-horse you will want to give the extra money to buy the update. :)

    This of course is all speculation, but from what I’ve seen so far from Apple I believe there future is brighter than that of Microsoft

  2. back @ Raven

    But for the majority of Mac users like myself who are quite satisfied with the curent performance of Leopard, how will Apple be able to convince us to plunk down more money for something which we didnt feel necessary until the decided to introduce it?

    To the average person (most people in general), unless there are some new features, it seems like it would be a tough sell to convince them to buy the new 10.6

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. @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.

  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

    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.

  8. 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?