Mac OS X Snow Leopard reaches Golden Master

According to several sources in contact with MacRumors.com, Mac OS X 10.6 Build 10A432 has been designated as the Golden Master. This build is the final release out of the development team and will likely be the final shipping version.

Mac OS X 10.6, or Snow Leopard, represents a series of changes to the operating system for increased performance over Mac OS 10.5 or Leopard. Technologies include Grand Central Dispatch and OpenCL and now most system applications will be 64-bit. Snow Leopard is also the first Mac OS release without PowerPC support. The new build brought a number of changes with it, including the following, according to AppleInsider:

  • Although Rosetta and Quicktime 7 are both included on the Mac OS X 10.6 installation DVD, both are designated as optional installs by default. However, if Mac OS X 10.6 is being installed on a Mac that contains a registration a key for Quicktime 7 Pro, the installer will install Quicktime 7 automatically.
  • Options to "Erase and Install" and "Archive and Install" are no longer present in the Mac OS X 10.6 installer. According to those familiar with the software, this was done for convenience, so that users do not accidentally erase and install their Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard partitions. However, "Erase and Install" remains available through Disk Utility, which is also included on the installation DVD.
  • If you need to reinstall 10.6, it automatically archives and installs for you.
  • A reinstallation will not affect your Mac OS X version number. In other words, reinstallation of Mac OS X 10.6 on a Mac that contains Mac OS X 10.6.1 (when it becomes available) will not overwrite any new components delivered by 10.6.1. So when the re-install is complete, you will still be running Mac OS X 10.6.1. This will save users considerable time.
  • There is no "Previous System" folder at the root level after reinstalling.
  • If a power outage occurs, installation will pick up from where it left off.
  • To prevent the Blue Screen error that plagued some users when upgrading to Mac OS X 10.5, a software compatibility check is included that has a list of known "bad" apps, and disables them. Those programs are moved to an "Incompatible Software" folder.
  • Unlike Mac OS X 10.5, you cannot install Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard on computers where the hard drive reports a S.M.A.R.T. failure.
  • Installation initially triggers a large chunk of data to be copied from the installation DVD to the user's primary hard drive. The bulk of the installation is then managed from the hard drive, speeding up the installation process considerably. After a successful installation, that large chunk of data is automatically removed.
For Leopard users, the Snow Leopard upgrade is $29, Tiger owners will need to purchase the Mac OS X Box Set at $169. Family Pack editions for both the Box Set and standard upgrade are available as well. Snow Leopard is due in September but no specific date has been released by Apple. Both Leopard and Tiger were released late in the month, though there is no proof to suggest that will be the case this time around.

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