Apple will begin delivering its new operating system, dubbed Snow Leopard, tomorrow (Friday).
Among its new features is its ability to use a Microsoft Exchange server to exchange email and calendar information. One caveat: it works with only the latest incarantion of Microsoft Exchange: Exchange 2007. Microsoft Exchange in one form or another runs on many corporate servers; it provides email, contact, and group scheduling data to corporate users. I’d guess that at least half of production Microsoft Exchange servers are 2003 or older.
Until now, to talk to a Microsoft Exchange server, a Mac user needed to buy and install a virtual machine program such as Parallels Desktop, a copy of Windows XP, and a copy of Microsoft Outlook. This works, but is expensive: roughly, $80 + $160 + $50, plus setup labor.
Snow Leopard’s ability to exchange email and calendar/group schedule information within a workgroup will help Macs squeeze through corporate doorways that had been closed to them . . . and the Snow Leopard upgrade will cost a mere $29.
Snow Leopard also supports 64-bit applications. Apparently Macbooks will still run Snow Leopard in 32-bit mode, but 64-bit applications may run within it. I gather that, like Microsoft, Apple’s ability to jump to full 64-bit support is impeded by the inability of peripherals manufacturers to quickly update their system device driver software. It also provides better support for multi-core processors and the latest GPUs (Graphics Processing Units). In summary, it should run everything faster than previously, but initial reports are that some apps run slightly slower. On newer dual-core Intel processors, Snow Leopard should run faster.
The user interface is essentially the same as the current OS X release (“Leopard”), so there will be almost no learning curve for Snow Leopard users to climb.
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