Apple’s Snow Leopard Lunges Towards Summer Release

Microsoft’s Windows 7 has stolen the hearts of the tech community.  Drawing glowing reviews, Microsoft’s dedication to making a polished functional product has impressed many critics.  However, many forget that it will face competition in the next-generation OS race — Apple has been hard at work cooking up Snow Leopard, which is shaping up to be a significant release.

Apple has released new builds in recent weeks of the OS — Mac OS X 10.6 — to its developers.  Build 10A335 was released April 23, just three weeks after the previous test release.  Apple is looking to release the OS in the summer months, possibly at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), June 8-12 in San Francisco.

However, in the mean time, OS X users have something else to look forward to — Apple has released Build 9J56 of Mac OS 10.5.7, an incremental update to OS X 10.5, similar to Service Packs for Microsoft OS’s.  The new release brings Bluetooth and “stability fixes”.  The incremental update will replace OS X 10.5.6, which was released in December 2008.

Apple also released the latest server version of Leopard.  While Apple’s server products are even more of a niche business than its computer products, the company is hoping to gain ground over Microsoft’s Exchange Server with the new release.

One interesting thing about the new server product is that it will include an exclusive interface with the iPhone.  Apple’s WWDC agenda describes, “The Mobile Access Server provides a path through a corporate firewall for IMAP, SMTP, HTTP, and CalDAV without using VPN. Learn about the features of, and deployment tips for, this powerful new service in Snow Leopard Server.”
While some IT administrators might find such open access to the iPhone alarming, as it could provide a route of intrusion, others might welcome the decrease in hassle it would bring.  The move is an obvious attempt by Apple to capitalize on its iPhone’s popularity and growing interest in the business community.  Apple hopes to leverage that interest to spur the adoption of its server software.

And Apple insists that the new service is very secure.  Apple Insider writes, referencing company sources, “Users will be able to access internal network resources from their iPhone or iPod touch with the same level of security that banks and online merchants use to provide SSL-encrypted website access. And because Apple designs both the server and the mobile client software, it can make the setup and configuration for using Mobile Access secured resources nearly invisible to end users.”

Along with Snow Leopard, Apple is also set to release the QuickTime X Player.  The player is reported to bring screen recording features to Snow Leopard. 

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