Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard from Apple is the long-awaited successor to Apple's groundbreaking Leopard operating system. While the differences between Snow Leopard and its predecessor are not immediately evident on the surface -- the look and feel remains the same -- users will quickly realize that this version of OS X is an enhanced, streamlined, and refined edition of its predecessor. Snow Leopard is optimized for use with 64-bit processors, specifically those made by Intel. It is the first version of OS X that does not support Macs that use PowerPC G3, G4, and G5 CPUs.
Because OS X software engineers were able to concentrate their efforts on writing code for Intel Macs, the operating system performs much better than the previous version. The newly-optimized Finder, completely rewritten in the advanced Cocoa programming language, renders icons nearly twice as fast as before. That's not all: Time Machine backups are nearly 80% faster, and wake from sleep shut down times are completed in nearly half the time as in Leopard. The operating system also takes up 7GB less hard drive space than before, in part due to the elimination of the need for Universal Binary applications. All-in-all, Snow Leopard delivers a 50% performance increase when compared to Leopard.
The core application of OS X is Finder, from which you launch applications and browse files on your hard drive. In addition to speed enhancements, Snow Leopard's Finder has been enhanced with a more customizable Spotlight search and enhanced icon views. OS X's Exposé, which is used to take a quick look at open windows, is now integrated into the Dock, allowing you to quickly view open windows on an application-by-application basis if desired. Leopard users who use stacks to gain quick access to specific folders on their hard drive will be happy to know that they are now scrollable, allowing you to more easily navigate through them to locate a specific file.
Of course, the tried and true Mac interface is retained by Snow Leopard. All of the expected bundled applications and modules are still there in familiar places: Boot Camp, Quick Look browsing, Spotlight search, Apple's venerable Mail client, iCal scheduling, the ever-handy Address Book, iTunes, and Photo Booth. Advanced users are still able to work with Terminal, Disk Utility, Automator, AppleScript, and Xcode.
Snow Leopard is a worthy successor to its nearly-homophonic predecessor. It refines the robust feature set of OS X, running more efficiently and occupying less hard drive real estate, in order to provide users with an even more impressive computing experience. Most importantly, this upgrade is priced to be an excellent value by any means. It is quite a rare occurrence when any computer software program will offer such marked performance improvements over the previous version at such a modest upgrade price.