It’s coming, and we’ve finally got an official word on a release… month. Apple has pegged a release in September, but they were far from announcing it as a hard date. In the past, we’ve seen release dates slide a little, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the September 2009 date slip.

We’ve had a few bones tossed our way about what to expect out of snow leopard over the last two years, and today we got a little more information on what to expect out of the release.

They spent quite a bit of time focusing on operating system refinements, new technologies that are going to be included in the release, as well as some more information on Exchange support (yawn).

Major Snow Leopard Refinements

The finder has been completely rewritten, but there’s very little we’ll notice about the changes.  This revamp ties into the process of turning all the core applications into 64-bit versions to ensure that users get the latest speed possibilities out of their new devices.  It’s about time if you ask me.  Finder could have used the update in Leopard.  The process of rewriting some of these applications, and working out kinks brings with it a natural slimming of the code needed to run programs.  That being said Apple also announced that the operating system installation for Snow Leopard comes in as 6gb’s smaller than the Leopard install.  Now that some major fat cut off the bone if you ask me.  Coincidentally, a smaller install means a quicker installation process.  I’m sure a lot of tech support people are heralding the 45% cut in installation time as the best thing to happen to OS X since the move from OS 9.  I can’t blame them, the install time for Leopard was painful.

One of my other favourite features in OS X is also getting a bit of a reworking.  The dock now has some expose hooks, you click and hold the icon you want, and you get the windows you want.  There was also mention of stacks letting you navigate through folders. In hindsight these two things look like a bit of a no-brainer now.  You want to increase productivity?  Use expose to its fullest extent possible around the operating system. I’m all for it, and it’s going to make my daily computer use a lot more painless.

Powerful new technologies.

You know what must be a pain in the ass? Chinese characters on computing devices.  I wouldn’t know, I don’t speak Mandarin or Cantonese, but I can only imagine that character recognition for those languages must be a really laborious process when the computer has no idea what the hell you’re talking about.  Apple addresses the concern by building in an Application that lets you sketch your character.  Again, how was this not something that has existed yet?  Genius.

Mail and Safari are both getting love in Snow Leopard as well.  Mail loading 2.3x faster than it does now is something that most of us could benefit from.  I mean getting your mail instantly is important when you’re trying to get your Viagra mail right?  Safari 4 is officially out of beta today.  I wonder if that means MSN no longer craps the bed when you install it.  I’ll wait to hear from my siblings before I give that one an install.  You know what’s going to set apart Safari from it’s competitors?  Its ACID 3 score.  100/100 is something that web developers are going to be ecstatic about.  You know what I’m going to be ecstatic about, no more crashing browsers.  That’s right, plugins crash now, and that means my all important social media websites don’t have to all be reloaded manually. I’m sure google apps users will also breathe a collective sigh of relief.  Oh, Javascript is 50% faster.  Get ready for an explosion of modal windows and accordian menus.  You know they’re on route now!

There’s an new quicktime interface, but we all know that was coming, and GPU and hardware acceleration is also on the agenda officially now. OpenCL is now in full swing with Snow Leopard.

Exchange support.

Unless you’re in corporate IT, this is probably a giant MEH for most of you, but you should probably note that they have built Exchange support into the three key OS X communication systems: Mail, iCal, and Address Book. So the next time that smart ass IT guy tells you that your new Mac can’t integrate with their corporate system tell him he’s full of crap and that he should find a new job.  Don’t take his crap.  He’s a moron!

The Price?

29.99 USD for Snow Leopard and 49.99 USD for the Family pack.  Talk about sticking it to Microsoft.