Apple's OpenCL-compliant Mac OSX Snow Leopard is only $29
8/25/2009 by: Theo Valich
Apple had quite a lot of media momentum about Snow Leopard until the December of 2008, when an early beta of Windows 7 was leaked and later Microsoft initialized its Open Beta attack, scooping most of press coverage. But at that time, Apple was working hard on finishing its first true 64-bit operating system [Snow Leopard finally has more 64-bit than 32-bit core components], an OS that brings OpenCL GPU/CPU programming to PC market. And more importantly for Apple users, decent multitasking capabilities.
Snow Leopard hits the stores on this upcoming Friday, August 28 at Apple's retail stores and Authorized Resellers -with Apple's online store accepting pre-orders today as of 12:01AM California time. What surprised us is the fact that back at WWDC 2009, there were no magic announcements that Snow Leopard is coming at a particular date, no Apple fanboys going through self-inflammatory phase on numerous forums - there was mostly silence, and now everybody is abuzz with the upcoming release of this operating system. The unusual downplay was probably a consequence of Steve Jobs absence from the firm, as the company was trying to distance themselves from Steve's magic if his health took the turn for worse. But luckily, Steve's health improved and he's back - and the industry wonders what the announcement on September 7th will be.
Personally, I expect a lot from Grand Central Dispatch and OpenCL. But while the OpenCL adoption will take some time, GCD is a key element missing from Mac OSX. In our experience at our video production studio, even Mac OSX Leopard is a terrible multi-tasking operative system. How else can you explain that you'll experience some glitches in a 1080p HD trailer playback while Final Cut Pro + Color + Photoshop + Firefox are turned on a 8-core, 16GB machine running 4 drives in RAID5 [e.g. the top configuration] and more than 40% of system memory is available and 3 CPU cores are doing absolutely nothing?
According to Apple, Grand Central Dispatch is "a finely tuned engine", or a dynamic workload scaler among existing CPU cores in the system. GCD also frees resources if the application is not actively using them - bottom line, system should be more responsive and well, offer Windows like multi-tasking experience [before the flame wars commence, we have identical Mac Pro and PC rigs and work in parallel - expect an article about that in near future]. Seeing a 64-bit Safari and the rest of key applications in 64-bit should do good for all the purchasers of 64-bit capable Macs in the past three years.
But the weakest point of Microsoft and their whole Windows 7 marketing campaign is the fact that "fixed Vista" should have offered something like Apple did. Pricing wise, Apple now has Microsoft in a deadlock, since the Snow Leopard is available as a Mac OSX Leopard upgrade for mere $29, while a five-user license [Family Pack] is just $49. If you skipped on Leopard and still use Mac OSX 10.4 Tiger, the Mac Box Set will come with Snow Leopard, iLife 09 and iWork 09 for $169, with a 5-license Family Pack setting you back for $229. This pricing is more than affordable, and there is no doubt that Apple has just won the "best buy" tag in the operating system segment. If we count just the operating systems you have to pay for, naturally.
Besides the consumer versions Mac OS X Server Snow Leopard is also debuting on August 28, including features such as Podcast Producer 2 and Mobile Access Server. In case you never analyzed the Mac OS X Server operating systems, a $499 price for unlimited client license version is significantly more affordable than competing packs, making up for the difference in hardware as soon as you need 10-20 clients.
All in all, the lines are drawn and it will be quite interesting to follow what will happen this fall in a titanic battle between two operating systems.
Apple Mac OS X Snow Leopard, Apple Mac OS X Snow Leopard Family Pack, Mac OS X Server Snow Leopard, Apple, Mac OS, Mac OSX, Snow Leopard, Leopard, Tiger, August 28, 32-bit, 64-bit, 64-bit OS, OpenCL, Grand Central Dispatch, GCD, Safari, iLife, iWork, Family Pack, Podcast Producer 2, Mobile Access Server, Final Cut Pro
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