What Puts the Pounce in Snow Leopard?


Apple (Stock Quote: AAPL) is releasing its newest tech obsession Friday, saying Snow Leopard will be "the world's most advanced operating system."

But what will Snow Leopard do for you? Sure, the name is much cooler (literally) than its predecessor, Leopard, but that isn't the only improvement the upgrade will give Mac users. Here are the key changes.

Size. Snow Leopard is not only from a cooler climate than Leopard, it's also a leaner, more compact version. Apple says that the new system is half the size of the previous version, which will free up to 7 GB of storage space when installed. Since many Mac users choose the product for its media capabilities and thus store a lot of music and digital files on their computer, this upgrade is probably the most important of the changes. Apple estimates you can store about 1,750 more songs or a few thousand more photos with the extra space.

64-bit coding. Unless you're a techie, you probably have no clue what this means for you. Don't be ashamed, it's one of the seemingly boring improvements Apple has made. In essence, an upgrade to Snow Leopard means that you'll have more applications written in a more powerful code. That means faster, more responsive systems. The rewritten applications include Safari, Mail, iChat and iCal, among others. Apple also claims that your computer will be more secure with 64-bit coding, an added plus.

Microsoft Exchange. One of the headaches of Mac users is the inability to use some Windows-compatible systems on a Mac. It's tough to keep one set of contacts or e-mail manager at work and then a different one a home. Also, many Mac users simply prefer the user interface of iCal and Mail to Microsoft Outlook. Snow Leopard aims at ameliorating this annoyance and making it easier for Mac users to access their work e-mail from home. Basically, Apple put the Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 in their own format. While this isn't a quantum leap forward, this change does condense and combine a Mac user's work and personal content into one space and is ultimately more convenient.

Snow Leopard costs different amounts depending on what system you currently own. Users of Mac OS X Leopard can upgrade to the latest version for $29 (single user) and $49 (family pack of five). If you currently run Tiger on an Intel-based Mac, Snow Leopard will put a larger dent in your wallet, at $169 (single user) and $229 (family pack).

If you've purchased a Mac since June 8 or if you're planning on buying one between now and Dec. 26, you can get a Snow Leopard upgrade for only $9.95.

The new operating system will be available at Apple retail stores and authorized resellers nationwide. You can also pre-order the system online now at Apple.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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