Apple’s Snow Leopard operating system hits Windows 7 in the wallet


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Mac OS X Snow Leopard. Credit: Apple

SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple’s upcoming Mac operating system, Snow Leopard, is an important release for the Cupertino company. Much of that has to do with Microsoft.

Software giant Microsoft is revving its engines in anticipation for its critical follow-up to Vista, called Windows 7, in October. But Apple stuck a branch through Microsoft’s spokes at the Worldwide Developers Conference Monday with the announcement of a $29 upgrade price and a September release.


Microsoft, which doesn’t have much of a hardware presence to recoup its costs compared with Apple, is unlikely to match that price.

As if that and all of the Windows Vista-bashing that Apple has done in its ad campaigns weren’t enough, Bertrand Serlet, Apple senior vice president of OS X software development, took some direct jabs at Windows during his speech.

Serlet started by highlighting the low corporate adoption of Vista. Then, he pointed out how ...

... some of the biggest headaches for developers inherent in Windows will still be there in the upcoming version. Windows 7, Serlet argued, would be just another Vista.

‘We come from another place,’ Serlet said. ‘We love Leopard.’

So Apple went behind the scenes and focused much of its efforts on crafting a sturdier, faster version of its nearly 2-year-old operating system.

Snow Leopard adds some new features, such as an improved version of QuickTime and a feature that integrates the dock with Exposé to simplify switching between windows. It also integrates Microsoft Exchange across key applications, which is designed to sway business users away from Windows.


But there’s not much in the way of new bright, flashy features.

Developers, however, get a ton of new kits and gizmos to play around with. And everything is supposed to be a lot more finely tuned. For example, when you install Snow Leopard on top of the current operating system, you actually save hard drive space -- about six gigabytes. Huh?

Retailing as a $29 upgrade for Leopard users, compared with Leopard’s $129 price tag at launch in 2007, or $49 for a family pack that’s good for five installs, it probably won’t be a major revenue driver for Apple.

But the fact that Apple devoted a major chunk of its two-hour keynote to touting the features and technical capabilities of Snow Leopard is telling. True, this was Apple’s developers conference, and it’s in the company’s best interest to get coders excited about the platform.

Still, Apple is doing everything in its power to make users want to upgrade -- and better yet, stay away from Windows.

-- Mark Milian