Will Apple keep their Snow Leopard promises?

Let me cast your minds back to the 9th June last year. Steve Jobs CEO of Apple was in better health back then and at the WWDC officially announced the development of Snow Leopard; the latest addition to the Mac OSX family.

He promised that a release date would be 'in about a years time.' It's almost May now, so we're expecting some news on it to be leaked very shortly. Much has changed since this time last year, most importantly, Jobs seems to be in ill health with recent fears that his hormone imbalance may have taken a turn to the worse. The main question is, will this hinder the final development stage of this new operating system?

From mid-2007, Nvidia took over the graphics processing from ATI, which now seems to bode well in the favour of Apple, after the news broke that Snow Leopard would be able to harness 'hidden energy' within the new chips. This then allows the shift of all graphical processes to be ported to the dedicated GPU, rather than using the CPU which it isn't strictly designed for.

Software-wise, the space used by an installation of Snow Leopard is promised to be less than that of its predecessors. Along with this comes faster install times, reducing around one hour during installation to around 15 minutes. With Microsoft Exchange support, this will be good news for those working on corporate networks and enterprise environments. Quicktime is to be updated to version 10, offering better codec support for a wider range of file types; rivaling Windows 7 which now renders the Windows version of Quicktime as useless, bringing in native MPEG-4 support.

Windows 7 has a post-install hard drive footprint of approximately 3.5GB, significantly less than a clean install of Vista, once you remove features which aren't necessary; Internet Explorer, multimedia features and the like. Snow Leopard has, according to one journalist, promised a much lower footprint when it comes to drive usage post-installation, from a ported technology designed for the iPhone.

Besides the "under the hood" updates which, disappointing to some users who wish to see a bit more visual jazz than before, little else is being done in terms of changes to aesthetics. Whether this is to remain consistent with previous releases or not, is yet to be confirmed. But for now, it seems Snow Leopard could be to Leopard as Windows 7 is to Vista - behind the scenes performance tweaks, and breathing a slight sigh of relief to those who don't get on so well with Apple's current operating system.

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QuickTime X (pronounced Quicktime Ten) is the next version of QuickTime (currently 7.6). It may or may not be version 10.0.

Would be suprised if it is pronounced "ten", same way as OS X isn't even though it's really OS 10 being the successor to OS 9. Not that it really matters either way.

Mac fanboys should stop bashing Windows fanboys, and Windows fanboys should stop bashing Mac fanboys. Love makes the world go around.

It's BS those who don't care about HDD footprint, so basically if the OS took 200GB space you wouldn't mind?, well at the rate its going, it won't be too long before that happens, enjoy your whole day installations.
The advantages of a smaller footprint for the end user are way better than a larger foot print.
So don't even bother making excuses for large installations. An OS is the base of the system to run programs, it should have the minimal impact on a systems resources.
Look at the OS's, and look at what they do, does it really take 10GB to do that? A little more options for the user to choose is always welcomed. Why not let the user decide if he wants the extras that take more space.
I backup the whole drive so I don't have to keep re-entering keys and installations, when I backup my drive I don't want to spend ages backing up OS files I will never use.

Sewje said,
It's BS those who don't care about HDD footprint, so basically if the OS took 200GB space you wouldn't mind?, well at the rate its going, it won't be too long before that happens, enjoy your whole day installations.
The advantages of a smaller footprint for the end user are way better than a larger foot print.
So don't even bother making excuses for large installations. An OS is the base of the system to run programs, it should have the minimal impact on a systems resources.
Look at the OS's, and look at what they do, does it really take 10GB to do that? A little more options for the user to choose is always welcomed. Why not let the user decide if he wants the extras that take more space.
I backup the whole drive so I don't have to keep re-entering keys and installations, when I backup my drive I don't want to spend ages backing up OS files I will never use.

OSes will never take 200GB. Why don't you sit down and hammer some logic into your head?

This news article is really, really, poor. Job's health shouldn't even be discussed here.
"Jobs is ill. Will snow leopard deliver?". I'm sorry but that's just borderline sensationalistic. And out of all the interesting features that have been announced for snow leopard, all u mention is codecs in quicktime and hard drive footprint? Seriously? What about... native 64 bit stuff, Cocoa, and all the things that ACTUALLY matter?

Does seem a very unlikely conclusion especially this late on in development. Also SL doesn't have much in the way of UI changes so SJ probably wouldn't have been particularly involved even if he was there.

I hear that the reason Snow leopard should be faster is that it utilizes the 64 bit registers in the Intel Core 2 processors that the 32 bit Mac OSX cannot adequately address. Snow leopard should be about 25-50% faster despite the fact that 64 bit has a wider memory to utilize and thus is slower.

There can be other increases in speed from optimizing the COCOA API's to Intel, Grand Central software which makes programming for multiple cores easier and from utilizing the NVEDIA GPU for computations using CUDA and OpenCL. What this means that the speed increases will vary with the programs you use from 25 to 500% faster. But, all this is guesswork until we get our hands on the software in 2 to 5 months.

It is also true that Snow Leopard will leave PowerPC behind, because there are no hardware advantages in PowerPC for Snow Leopard. Leopard 10.5 was developed on 64 bit PowerPC and uses its 64 bit registers just fine. Since over 90% of Apple's computers will be Intel based when Snow Leopard ships, this is no great loss. The only real losers will be PowerPC G5 Mac Pros which will be about four years old at the time. They run fine and rather fast under Leopard 10.5 where they will stay. They will still have two to three years of life in them.

What moving to a 64 bit kernel in Snow Leopard does for Apple is to provide much better security, more memory address, a reorganized structure which is completely Cocoa based and it relegates Carbon API's to 32 bit Applications so they can be disposed of within five years.

The main point is that Snow Leopard provides Apple with a springboard for future features. And it is part of the migration toward Sun's Zettabyte File System. Mostly, the latter will be important only on servers, but, the way files and disk drives keep growing, ZFS will be necessary on the desktop, soon enough. Necessary or not, it has some interesting advantages.

I'm expecting that there will be a number of surprises in Snow Leopard. I'm not sure that you can call them features, though. Apple has a number of vulnerabilities it acquired when it moved to Intel hardware; it is likely to address those. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple closes off some loopholes in its security. Why should Apple put up with companies and individuals making cheap PC clones that run Mac OSX? I don't believe the 32 bit security was good enough to attack the Hackintoshes and the clones, but the 64 bit security should be much better. Assuming that Apple doesn't care about the Hackintoshes is foolish.

I'd be suprised if partially going 64 bit would speed things up by anything like 25-50%. From what I've seen under Windows it tends to be 10% tops, although there are exceptions like encoding and archiving, but more often than not there's no difference.

Moving to 64bit doesn't mean anything in itself security wise, doubt if it will kill of OSX86 after all SL is already on Hackintoshes. Also the OSX86 community aren't idiots there's some real talent out there, just look at the range of hardware that OS X now works on.

As I said, the 64 bit Snow Leopard uses its Intel hardware better than Leopard 10.5 does. I also said that rumors need to wait until they are proven on delivery. We'll know soon enough. There are many promising trends. Apple OS upgrades tend to get faster at least by 10%. I've heard that it is much much faster than that from the developers who are testing it. Why should they know?

What 64 bit security will do is hide where everything is better. It also, allows a Hypervisor to control things.

I never suggested that the OSX86 hackers are idiots, but they don't have Apple's resources. Apple engineers aren't idiots either; they knew that the hackers would arrive when they moved to Intel hardware, so they have had over three years to work on this. Apple could utilize the increase in security in Snow Leopard to close off some loopholes. But, you refuse to consider this, because you know it all. Why should I waste my time on you?

UrbanBard said,
As I said, the 64 bit Snow Leopard uses its Intel hardware better than Leopard 10.5 does. I also said that rumors need to wait until they are proven on delivery. We'll know soon enough. There are many promising trends. Apple OS upgrades tend to get faster at least by 10%. I've heard that it is much much faster than that from the developers who are testing it. Why should they know?


Tiger sure as heck wasn't faster on similar hardware. Neither was Leopard at least in my experience (at *best* it was the same though boot-up got noticeably slower on my Macbook).

What 64 bit security will do is hide where everything is better. It also, allows a Hypervisor to control things.


64-bit has nothing to do with Hypervisors.

Is Apple implementing proper ASLR support in Snow Leopard? I sure hope so, but I haven't heard anything yet. If they do then the 64-bit address space certainly helps keep things obfuscated.

The apps on the iphone are awesome. I wonder if they can be ported down to the desktop. If so this would give Apple such an edge between platform compatibility simply unheard of in the OS/mobile space today.

With Microsoft Exchange support...
Ever hear of OS X 10.4 or "Tiger" ?

Why are we comparing an installation footprint? Who cares? And what does the size comparison to Windows 7 have to do with anything? Do you really think there is anyone on the fence between 10.6 and Windows 7 who will make their decision based on the OS installation footprint?

Jobs health is also completely irrelevant here. During a Keynote he admitted he doesn't even know what Kerberos is. He obviously doesn't do any "under the hood" work.

it seems Snow Leopard could be to Leopard as Windows 7 is to Vista
No, not even close. Windows 7 is a whole new operating system. 10.6 is yet another service pack for OS X with an operating system price.

C_Guy said,
With Microsoft Exchange support...
Ever hear of OS X 10.4 or "Tiger" ?

Why are we comparing an installation footprint? Who cares? And what does the size comparison to Windows 7 have to do with anything? Do you really think there is anyone on the fence between 10.6 and Windows 7 who will make their decision based on the OS installation footprint?

Jobs health is also completely irrelevant here. During a Keynote he admitted he doesn't even know what Kerberos is. He obviously doesn't do any "under the hood" work.

it seems Snow Leopard could be to Leopard as Windows 7 is to Vista
No, not even close. Windows 7 is a whole new operating system. 10.6 is yet another service pack for OS X with an operating system price.

Have you ever used Mac OSX as 10.6 is not another SP, Mac OSX 10.6 is built upon 10.5, in the same way that Windows 7 (6.1) is built upon Vista. It's getting really boring keep seeing people write this same crap over and over again. 10.5.x with x being the SP in the mac world.

C_Guy said,
No, not even close. Windows 7 is a whole new operating system. 10.6 is yet another service pack for OS X with an operating system price.

No, it's far from a service pack.

Here's how it works:

OS X 10.5.6 => 10 is the architecture version, similar to "NT" in Windows, 5 is the major OS version, similar to XP being 5.0, Vista being 6.0, etc, and 6 is the minor OS version, what you call "service packs" in Windows. However, these "service packs" are exclusive to Windows, and Mac doesn't use that nomenclature. For good reason too, since they're released on a more frequent schedule than in Windows. The increments may thus be smaller, but the end result is the same. OS X 10.5.6 is a heavily "service packed" version of the initial OS X 10.5.0.

Snow Leopard will carry far too many core architecture improvements to be called just a service pack. It's a bit like calling Windows 7 one, since, after all, it doesn't change the UI and only polishes WordPad and Paint with the Ribbon, or some silly reason like that.

It's not a service pack however unless Apple decide to add some UI/program changes above what has been leaked, which isn't that much, then it's possible that customers will see it as one.

Jugalator said,
Snow Leopard will carry far too many core architecture improvements to be called just a service pack. It's a bit like calling Windows 7 one, since, after all, it doesn't change the UI and only polishes WordPad and Paint with the Ribbon, or some silly reason like that.


Not sure what you're trying to say there. The Windows 7 UI is quite different from the Windows Vista UI. Win7 has significant changes at every level, from the most visible UI elements (taskbar, Explorer navigation pane, etc) down to the kernel. The apps are updated, subsystems like graphics and audio have been refined significantly, there is significant new API surface (Direct2D, DirectWrite, D3D 11, Scenic, the native web service stuff, etc), entirely new features like touch support, major overhauls to features like Tablet / pen input, plus countless new features from smaller things like ISO burning, Aero Snap, and desktop slideshow, to major innovations like Libraries, Federated Search, Jump Lists, Device Stage, and all the architecture that it took to support them. Nevermind the endless performance and security enchancements throughout.

It remains to be seen if Snow Leopard will contain any noticeable UI changes or new features. I'm expecting it will have a few, and will probably "borrow" quite liberally from Win7. Certainly their port to 64-bit is a significant undertaking - although when Windows did that (with XP/2003 x64 Editions) it wasn't really treated as a whole new OS release just for that.

i was under the impression that snow leopard still had ppc support, not just intel. that wouldn't change the install size either, just the install medium size.

but i have to agree, jobs not being there didn't halt progress. not like HE is apple and no other employees work on os x.

lothodon said,
i was under the impression that snow leopard still had ppc support, not just intel. that wouldn't change the install size either, just the install medium size.

but i have to agree, jobs not being there didn't halt progress. not like HE is apple and no other employees work on os x.

There won't be PPC support. Dumping that is the only way to get file sizes down enough to really reduce it's foot print.

Can't see why anyone would think that Jobs not being there has/will effect development.

Currently the Snow Leopard install image is about 6.5GB, Windows 7 something like 2.4GB so SL is still prety big, not that it really makes any difference these days. Obviously a good chunk of the slimming down is because it's Intel only.

What will be more interesting will be the Snow Leopard uptake as end users tend to want new things to see whereas SL is primarily a behind the scenes update. This may be why the rumored theme update might make an appearance.

Personally I would have loved it if Apple had bought out Pathfinder and replaced the Finder with it as it really could do with a big update.

m.keeley said,
Currently the Snow Leopard install image is about 6.5GB, Windows 7 something like 2.4GB so SL is still prety big, not that it really makes any difference these days. Obviously a good chunk of the slimming down is because it's Intel only.

PowerPC only code makes up a few percentage of Mac OS X - removing it has almost nothing to do with decreasing disk size.

The largest decrease in size is coming from the removal of language localization nibs. For example: consider Mail

(me@lucy : MacOS)$ pwd
/Users/me/Desktop/Mail.app/Contents/MacOS
(me@lucy : MacOS)$ lipo -detailed_info Mail
Fat header in: Mail
fat_magic 0xcafebabe
nfat_arch 2
architecture i386
    cputype CPU_TYPE_I386
    cpusubtype CPU_SUBTYPE_I386_ALL
    offset 4096
    size 3003872
    align 2^12 (4096)
architecture ppc7400
    cputype CPU_TYPE_POWERPC
    cpusubtype CPU_SUBTYPE_POWERPC_7400
    offset 3010560
    size 2943104
    align 2^12 (4096)
(me@lucy : MacOS)$ lipo -remove ppc7400 Mail -output Mailthin
(me@lucy : MacOS)$ ls -al
-rwxrwxr-x   1 me  staff  5953664 19 Nov 21:51 Mail
-rwxr-xr-x   1 me  staff  3007968 29 Apr 20:20 Mailthin

Total savings for Mail by stripping the PowerPC code is 3 megabytes. The total size for the Application bundle is just shy of 300 megabytes, about a 1% difference.

Stripping Localizations shaves about 200 megabytes from the Mail application. The main reason isn't that the language strings are bloated but because Apple ships editable versions of nib files with most applications (open up nibs and notice the designable nibs inside the bundle) - these things are huge and serve no purpose once you've compiled and shipped the app (except for UI-hackers that might want to edit the program of course).

Moving from large uncompressed resources to smaller versions (vector, png) saves a bit more. Trimming the remaining Nib bundles saves even more. I don't have access to 10.6 right now but just doing those changes should drop the size of mail to somewhere in the neighborhood of 80mb. Just an educated guess of course but I'd be surprised if I was off more than ~10% one way or the other.

m.keeley said,
Currently the Snow Leopard install image is about 6.5GB, Windows 7 something like 2.4GB so SL is still prety big, not that it really makes any difference these days. Obviously a good chunk of the slimming down is because it's Intel only.

Developer tools themselves on the installation image are 1GB. That said, it's silly to compare how large install image files are, rather than the final installation size.

giga said,
Developer tools themselves on the installation image are 1GB. That said, it's silly to compare how large install image files are, rather than the final installation size.

I find even that rather silly unless your putting them on a system with a small SSD or something. I'd be far more keen to compare the amount of memory each one uses as opposed to how much HDD space they use. Honestly when new systems are selling with something like 320GB as a base and 120GB+ for laptops I don't think worrying about a 1 or 2 GB install difference matters all that much.

Totally agree that it doesn't really matter whether it's 1GB or 10GB these days just pointing out that even stripped down it can hardly be described as slim.

Also agree that localisations takes up a big chunk of space but thought that removing the PowerPC binaries would reduce things by more than 3%. Obviously the percentage depends on the size of the localisation files.

Hidden energy? So...what, if resources get too bogged down, and it's inches away from crashing...it declares that it's been only toying with us so far, prepare to see its true powers, and its hair bursts into bright shades of blond?

No, the 'hidden energy' is more like untapped energy. Other than in gaming, the graphics card has never been used to its fullest potential. We're still encoding videos on the CPU, for example. Using OpenCL, which moves such processes to the GPU should developers choose, can increase the speed of video encoding by 5 times.

Not everything is appropriate for use on a GPU, but some things are.

Before someone posts something stupid, a smaller footprint does not equal a faster OS.

What amuses me most here is the suggestion of desire by users for "visual jazz". Give me under the hood and UI interface improvements, but Visual Jazz errr no thanks.

A smaller HD footprint like in the article/editorial/whatever, maybe not. But still. I smell loss of times when the applications start because they're all so big. Making them smaller might speed up a few things, less time to search the hard drive. But then again, 10 thousands 1kb files are slower than one 10 000kb file with today's filesystems I think, so I don't know.

But a smaller CPU and memory footprint, of course, makes the OS faster.

I'm surprised at this "15 minutes to install" promise. I've never heard of that before, not on Apple's site, not on any Apple site I'm visiting. So I guess it means it's already taking 15 minutes to install in the betas... which should be awesome!

And about changing visually? I don't think so. A few things might change (scrollbars, maybe buttons) to eliminate Aqua, but not much. Why change a winning user interface anyway?

@PsykX,
- 15 minutes to install is not that impressive actually. With a USB drive Windows 7 takes less than 10 minutes to install and from a DVD it takes 10 to 15 minutes (depending mostly on your DVD speed) :)

PS : I'm not counting the set-up part after the installation

PsykX said,
Making them smaller might speed up a few things, less time to search the hard drive.

Many, Many, Many basic computer algorithms can be ranked on a scale of memory/cpu time versus performance linearly.

Sorting algorithms, DSP algorithms, etc. All of them can make tradeoffs: Do you want more CPU time (worse performance) or more memory usage (larger footprint).

RAM and HD space is cheap. Anyone still worried about RAM or HD usage is stuck in the 20th century.

Today, faster is better...period.

Aren't they just smaller because they're dropping the PowerPC versions of the binaries? (and maybe 32-bit x86 versions?)

Right now every binary includes 4 copies of itself compiled for different architectures, removing some of those is an easy way to shrink stuff...

mmck said,
Before someone posts something stupid, a smaller footprint does not equal a faster OS.

Indeed, but there are other changes that will be made to work on the performance.