Apple plans to release Snow Leopard, its newest operating system upgrade, aka OS X 10.6, in September, with a price of $29. Apple will also market a five-license Family Pack for $49. Those buying new Macs from June 8 through Dec. 26 will be able to upgrade to Snow Leopard for $9.95.
Snow Leopard will boost several improvements over the previous iteration of the operating system, most notably in how it leverages 64-bit CPUs with 64-bit support for Mail, Finder, iChat and Safari. There are improvements to Mail, Time Machine and Safari 4, and, in a bid to appeal to enterprise and Windows customers, the upgraded OS will also support the Microsoft Exchange server.
During the WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) keynote presentation in California on June 8, Craig Federighi, vice president of Mac OS engineering for Apple, suggested that Apple viewed Snow Leopard as more of an upgrade of the original Leopard than a fully new operating system. "We want all Leopard users to upgrade to Snow Leopard, so we're pricing it at $29," he said, according to reports.
Apple will box Snow Leopard with iLife '09 and iWork '09 for $169 for an individual and $229 for a five-license family pack.
Despite the coming upgrade, Apple has been busily continuing to patch Mac OS X 10.5.7, including upgrades to security, fixes for applications such as iCal and Mail, and improved functionality with Gmail and Yahoo. Product versions affected by that most recent update, which can be installed either via Software Update or stand-alone installer, are Mac OS X 10.5, 10.5.1, 10.5.2, 10.5.3, 10.5.4, 10.5.5 and 10.5.6.
When released, Snow Leopard will shortly find itself head-to-head with Microsoft's Windows 7, due to roll out for general commercial availability on Oct. 22. Microsoft needs a hit with its own operating system to erase memories of Windows Vista, widely regarded as a failure.
Microsoft will also release Windows Server 2008 R2 at the same time as Windows 7.