Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mac OS X Under the Hood

Mac OS X Snow Leopard as a mentioned in a previous post (see New Features In Mac OS X 10.6 Coming Soon) we talked about a few of the new features of OS X 10.6 that users will be able to see. Today we are going to talk about what you will not see. Those tweaks and changes under the hood that will make OS X easier to use and faster.

First I should mention in the MWDC 2009 Keynote Phil Schiller noted that the new Snow Leopard would take up less space. With the upgrade the average user should recover about 6 Gigabytes of disk space. I think this is the first Operating System upgrade that actually makes the OS smaller. Due to the lack of Power PC support in this version only Intel machines built in the last few years will be able to run the upgrade and large chunk of the space saved probably comes from removing the old Power PC code from the Operating System.

First and foremost on the behind the scenes changes is Finder is completely rewritten in Cocoa and 64 bit. This means the Finder the first app that launches and gives you access to your files is going to be much faster and more stable. Some of the early indications from Apple indicates it will be on average twice as fast if not a little faster than that.

Making Time Machines twice a fast, for those of you not using Time Machine for backup yet I can't stress enough what a great job it can do of saving you from hardware failures or from accidental deletions or overwrites of files. I have used Time Machine a lot in the past couple of years to recover documents or rebuild whole systems and it has never failed me.

Snow Leopard is also promising faster wake up from sleep, faster shutdown and faster to join networks. This saves time at the beginning and end of your work time with your Mac.

Snow Leopard is also adding a great feature for travelers. The computer can now determine what time zone it is located in and update it's clock automatically using the Internet and Geo Location technologies. Now when you are flying across country your computer can know the local time when you arrive.

Better support for selecting text in PDF's has now been added so if you have a two column document the computer can select the left column first and the right column after making it easier to copy information from one document to another.

Disk Eject now will tell you if a disk can't be ejected what Application is using the disk so you can close it and then eject your disk.

iChat now allows higher resolution video conferencing with reduced bandwidth cost, a 33% reduction in bandwidth requirements makes it easier to use higher resolutions and continue to do other things on the Internet at the same time.

Other things that users will not see is Grand Central Dispatch and Open CL. These two technologies allow programmers to write apps to take better advantage of the modern multi-core processors in the entire Intel Mac line and Open CL allows programmers to use powerful Graphics Processors to do regular CPU tasks. This allows the Operating System to better utilize the powerful hardware we already have.

Also to make Snow Leopard a better corporate citizen they are now including Exchange Support in Mail, Address Book, and iCal. Now we can use the apps we have known and loved for years with Exchange servers. Allowing users to keep all of our email, contacts, and calendars in one place regardless if the data lives on our Mobile Me or Exchange accounts.

The best news for users of OS X 10.5 Leopard the upgrade is only going to cost $29 and if you bought a Mac after Jun 11th the cost of upgrade is only $10. This is great bargain for everything that is coming with the new version of OS X. Come the end of September Mac users will certainly be seeing a Leopard of another color.