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When Apple first announced Snow Leopard at their 2008 Worldwide Developers Conference, they included the surprising statement that Snow Leopard would have zero new features. Now, of course this was a bit of exaggeration otherwise you wouldn't have this tutorial to be watching. Now, there definitely are some new features, but the point of them saying that there were zero new features is that they wanted to get across the idea that Snow Leopard's main focus was under-the-hood, meaning that the most significant new features would all be behind the scenes, but with the goal of making OS X faster, more efficient, and less bulky.
Hence the name Snow Leopard which tied the new OS to the previous OS, Leopard. In fact, at first glance Snow Leopard's interface looks nearly identical to Leopard's interface with very few modifications. So instead of loading a ton of new features into the new operating system as Apple has done with every version of OS X so far, with Snow Leopard they have tweaked existing features and added a couple of new ones, but most importantly have re-written the entire operating system to take advantage of the next generation of Macs which will feature 64 bit processors, lots of memory, and powerful graphics cards.
We will be getting to the more tangible improvements of Snow Leopard over the course for the rest of this series of movies, but for now let's get a brief overview of the most important under-the-hood changes to Snow Leopard. First of all, the Finder has been completely re-written using Cocoa, OS X's native object oriented framework, which allows the Finder to take advantage of all the new technologies in Snow Leopard including 64 bit support and Grand Central Dispatch, which allows the OS to take full advantage of multi-core systems. I will talk more about 64-bit support in the next movie, but for now let's suffice it to say that the re-written Finder means an overall faster or snappier user experience.
This faster speed also means the faster shutdowns and wake-ups, so you spend less time sitting there waiting for your Mac to wake up or for it to shut down. Apple claims you will experience 80% faster shut downs and up to twice the previous speed of waking your Mac from sleep. Snow Leopard itself is also a smaller package. If you are installing Snow Leopard over a previous Leopard installation, you will find that Snow Leopard takes up less then half of the disc space of Leopard, freeing up about seven gigabytes of space for your own use. Again, these are all performance related topics that you will just have to experience for yourself.
But before we get into some of the more demonstrable features of Snow Leopard, I do want to talk a little bit more about 64-bit computing and what it means for current Macs as well as for the Macs that will be available months and years from now. So we will take a look at that in the next movie.
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