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Tuesday, December 02, 2008, 12:00 pm PT (03:00 pm ET)

Apple's Snow Leopard still evolving, developers say

Although there's been some evidence to suggest Snow Leopard could hit the market several months ahead of expectations, new information reveals that Apple remains heavily engaged in building out some of the features first previewed back in June.

In particular, developers on the web note that new copies of the software surfacing this week arrived with fresh additions to Grand Central, a new architecture designed by Apple to make it easier for programmers to take advantage of Macs with two or many processor cores. At the same time, some previously available functions have changed.

Another well-publicized area of the next-generation Mac OS X still under heavy revision is 64 support and a 64-bit kernel. While many of the Macs introduced during the first half of the year are compatible with the latter, those introduced this fall have yet to see the same treatment.

With nearly all of the forward-facing applications in Snow Leopard due for upgrades to Apple's object-oriented Cocoa programming interface, including the Finder, there's also a long but expected laundry list problems that will be need to be smoothed out in the coming months. One of these applications is Font Book, which is reportedly far from complete.

For the time being, outside developers remain tasked with testing Microsoft Exchange support, a technology Apple said would find its way into Snow Leopard's versions of Mail, iCal and Address Book. They've reportedly been asked to ignore some other areas of the system, such as non-optimal power management on notebooks that will be addressed later on.

While announcing Snow Leopard at its annual developers conference this past June, Apple vouched to deliver the software to end users "about a year" later. However, speculation that the software could see a release several months earlier was boosted when an Apple official displayed a presentation slide during an system administrator's conference last month showing the first quarter of 2009 — or March — as a target launch date.

As always, readers can keep up to date on the latest Snow Leopard rumblings through AppleInsider's Mac OS X 10.6 topics page and the ongoing Road to Snow Leopard series.