Apple's Snow Leopard Ships Aug. 28

By Rob Pegoraro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 24, 2009; 4:09 PM

Mac early adopters can set a date: Apple announced this morning that it will ship its next version of Mac OS X, Snow Leopard, this Friday, Aug. 28 -- earlier than it had predicted in June -- and it's already taking pre-orders for it on its Web site.

Snow Leopard -- you can also call it Mac OS X 10.6, but Apple, like Microsoft, has been moving away from using version numbers to identify its operating-system updates -- will be an unusual release in some ways. Apple is emphasizing performance over new features, calling this version "refined, not reinvented" and advertising such incremental improvements as faster startup and shutdown times, a smaller disk footprint and a more crash-resistant Web browser.

Apple is also pricing Snow Leopard low enough to make it almost an automatic upgrade from the current, already-good OS X 10.5 Leopard: just $29, $100 less than what Leopard sold for at its debut. (If you bought a Mac from June 8 on, right after Snow Leopard had its first in-depth demonstration at an Apple conference, you can probably get it for just $9.95.)

But people running older versions of OS X aren't eligible for those deals, and many older Macs can't run Snow Leopard at any price.

If you use 10.4 Tiger, you'll have to buy the "Mac Box Set," a $169 bundle of Snow Leopard and the latest versions of Apple's iLife media-creativity and iWork personal-productivity suites. I like iLife and iWork, but I'm not sure that every Tiger user will appreciate having to pay for those two bundles as part of a Leopard upgrade.

If your Mac doesn't have an Intel processor inside, you can't install Snow Leopard on that machine. Four years after it announced it would switch to Intel's processors from PowerPC chips and some three and a half years since it shipped its first Intel-based Mac, Apple considers that transition over.

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