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Apple on Friday formally released Mac OS X 10.6, aka Snow Leopard, for sale to the general public. The operating system can be purchased at Apple stores, selected online retailers like Amazon, and authorized Apple resellers.
Snow Leopard introduces a number of new features to the Mac operating environment, including 64-bit versions of Finder, Mail, iCal, iChat, and the Safari Web browser.
Mac OS X 10.6 also includes a new multithreading technology called Grand Central Dispatch that should prove popular with gamers and other users that require maximum horsepower for graphics processing and other computationally intensive tasks. GCD enables applications to take full advantage of multi-core processors.
For corporate users, Snow Leopard offers built-in support for Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, a feature that could help Apple make gains in the enterprise and small business computing markets.
Snow Leopard client pre-sales were strong. The OS was the top software seller on Amazon.com this week, while the Snow Leopard Family Pack ranked second, according to Amazon's Sales Rank page.
Amazon reduced the price of the upgrade version of Mac OS X 10.6 by 14%, from $29 to $25. It also cut the 5-user Family Pack edition by 10%, from $49 to $44.
Additionally, the online retailer reduced the Box Set Family Pack (non-upgrade) from $229 to $199. Mac OS X 10.6 Server is down 11%, to $445. Amazon is also offering free, "Super Saver" shipping on all versions of Snow Leopard.
Apple is continuing to charge the original prices for Snow Leopard on its Apple Store Web site, but is offering discounts to customers who purchased a Mac on or after June 8 through a program called "Up To Date." Qualified buyers can buy the upgrade version of Snow Leopard for just $9.95 through the program.
Apple dealers around the country are planning a series of sales and special events to mark Snow Leopard's launch. Members of the Apple Specialist Marketing Co-op, a group that comprises independent, authorized Apple resellers, will offer specials at locations around the country.
ASMC did not provide specifics on what events and deals members are planning, but said they would vary by location.