Apple confirms OS X Snow Leopard

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In a Worldwide Developers Conference keynote dominated by iPhone news, Steve Jobs did offer bit of OS X-centric news to attendees: The next version of OS X is code-named Snow Leopard.

But that’s all Apple disclosed about the new OS during the hour-and-44-minute keynote. Jobs said more information would be available during the conference’s afternoon OS X State of the Union session; however, like every WWDC session save for the keynote, that discussion is held away from the public eye with its contents covered by a non-disclosure agreement that prevents attendees from talking about what they’re told.

Apple did provide some further information about Snow Leopard in a statement quietly released after the keynote’s aftermath, with many of the details matching some of the rumors that had circulated about an OS X update in advance of WWDC.

Apple confirmed that Snow Leopard would focus on performance enhancements rather than new features. The OS X update, expected to ship in about a year, will be optimized for multi-core processors and enable “breakthrough amounts of RAM.” Apple also promised a new, modern media platform with QuickTime X. The update will also offer out-of-the-box support for Microsoft Exchange 2007.

“We have delivered more than a thousand new features to OS X in just seven years and Snow Leopard lays the foundation for thousands more,” said Bertrand Serlet, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering in the statement released by Apple. “In our continued effort to deliver the best user experience, we hit the pause button on new features to focus on perfecting the world’s most advanced operating system.”

The company did not confirm whether Snow Leopard would only offer compatibility for Intel-based Macs as had several published reports had claimed.

[Updated at 1:20 p.m. PT to include information released by Apple.]

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