Apple Picks Up Pace Towards Snow Leopard Release

Test builds show Apple’s operating system developers are hard at work pushing to get out the next major version of the Mac OS X

Apple’s operating system (OS) developers are hard at work pushing to get out the next major version of the Mac OS X, Snow Leopard, as evidenced by the recent pace of test builds the company has released to external developers, among other things.

Moreover, with the next big release of its OS platform, Apple is showing signs of beefing up its enterprise presence, particularly regarding integration with the iPhone as an enterprise supporting device, AppleInsider indicates.

In addition to delivering a new test build of the upcoming Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard version of its flagship OS, Apple introduced a new build of the next incremental update to the current “Leopard” version of Mac OS, which will be 10.5.7. The current Mac OS X 10.5 family release is Mac OS X 10.5.6, which was released in December 2008.

Apple released build 10A335 of Snow Leopard to developers on 23 April. This build comes just three weeks after the previous test release. Apple also released Build 9J56 of Mac OS 10.5.7, which features “Bluetooth compatibility and stability fixes,” according to one report.

Apple watchers say the company is pushing to get Snow Leopard out this summer. Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) will run June 8-12 in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, Apple also released a new build of the server version of Snow Leopard with improved certificate management, Podcast Producer, Mail Server and Calendar Server, according to reports.

Indeed, an AppleInsider report on the new test build said: “The Cupertino-based company reportedly made no mention of any significant changes in Thursday’s beta, but continued encouraging developers to start working on and testing any 64-bit kernel extensions that their third-party products will require under Snow Leopard.

“Apple did list a handful of bugs affecting build 10A335, people familiar with the matter say. Among them were crashes in QuickTime X player, application crashes under Rosetta, problems with Migration Assistant and odd errors being spit out by the new version of Disk Utility.”

The AppleInsider team did some sleuthing through the WWDC 2009 agenda and came across a session that indicates that Apple will provide remote access to enterprise servers, particularly Mac OS X servers, via the iPhone.

According to the AppleInsider report, the WWDC agenda touts a session that said: “The Mobile Access Server provides a path through a corporate firewall for IMAP, SMTP, HTTP, and CalDAV without using VPN. Learn about the features of, and deployment tips for, this powerful new service in Snow Leopard Server.”

If Apple can pull off this effort, the company will be able to further capitalise on its hot iPhone mobile platform to make inroads against Research In Motion’s BlackBerry and Microsoft Windows Mobile in enterprise environments.

AppleInsider added: “Users will be able to access internal network resources from their iPhone or iPod touch with the same level of security that banks and online merchants use to provide SSL-encrypted website access. And, because Apple designs both the server and the mobile client software, it can make the setup and configuration for using Mobile Access secured resources nearly invisible to end users.

“That strategy may likely help tie the growing popularity of iPhones among corporate and government users to increased sales of Snow Leopard Server, and draw more attention toward Apple’s Mac Server offerings as a much less expensive alternative to Microsoft’s combination of Windows Server, Exchange Server messaging, SharePoint collaboration, and Exchange Active Sync for supporting remote access to mobile devices.”

A separate report indicates that Apple will also deliver screen-recording features in Snow Leopard via the QuickTime X Player that is set to ship with Snow Leopard when it is released this summer.