By now, you’ve probably heard of Mac OS X 10.6, Snow Leopard.
Snow Leopard’s goal is to not focus on a single new feature… or rather, not a single new feature for users. Instead, Snow Leopard’s goal is to take a holistic view to Mac OS X performance. In other words, the sole purpose of Snow Leopard’s release right now is to make Mac OS X the famous “faster and more reliable”.
So, it makes perfect sense for Apple to offer a public beta of Snow Leopard. Apple’s all about secrecy, and not letting users see anything but the finished product… that’s Apple’s style. And, it works.
But, here we have an OS release that is not about being a secret. Sure, Apple may have some cool and nifty muti-touch interface that is secretly being worked on. There may be some new TV integration nobody’s heard of. But, for now, the thesis of Snow Leopard is better, not bigger. And, that is the right opportunity for Apple to show its users that testing software is something Apple isn’t afraid of.
Finally, Snow Leopard is not a release that I see Apple charging $129.99 for. Instead Snow Leopard appears to be the distant relative of another version, Puma. You may recall Puma as Mac OS X 10.1.
Puma too, focused not on new features (while it did have a few), but instead polishing the Mac OS X platform to being one that made you forget about Mac OS 9.
In a way, Snow Leopard is Apple’s ultimate dismissal of Windows Vista. The company is not focused on adding new features to compete. Instead, they’re so confident in the feature set, that they’re tweaking the existing features to run better on future computers… one where cores are almost as numerous as megahertz.
Leopard, and all prior Mac OS X releases, really topped out at eight cores. Vista matched that, finally. But, Snow Leopard will raise the bar far above and beyond that. Testing this new foundation will help Apple for releases down the road. So Apple, take a page from Microsoft, and help make the future of Mac OS X stable throughout… let the users that want to test, do the testing for you.