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Wednesday, April 01, 2009, 03:00 pm PT (06:00 pm ET)

More Apple Snow Leopard, Final Cut, Xserve rumors hit the web

A well-read overseas Mac blog is using April Fools Day to drop a payload of unconfirmed rumors on the Apple community regarding release dates for Snow Leopard, Final Cut Studio 3, new Xserves, and even a future generation of Mac notebooks.

Snow Leopard release estimate

Hardmac, the English-language version of French Apple site MacBidouille, isn't putting much stock in the rumors, teasing that should they "not pan out, we will be able to say that it was [an April Fools] joke."

Nevertheless, the report begins by nodding in agreement with AppleInsider's recent reports on Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, which cited people familiar with the software's roadmap as saying that Apple will need approximately two months following June's developer conference to tie up loose ends in the system.

While we used this information to provide a best-guess estimate of an August release, Hardmac's rumor stretches the timeline a bit further, saying consumers are unlikely to be able to purchase the software until some time in September.

Specifically, it cites an 'enormous' amount of work left on key components such as QuickTime X, Open CL and Grand Central. The report also tosses in a rumor about Blu-ray support existing as part of internal builds of the software, but notes that this code won't make its way to external builds unless Apple secures the appropriate Blu-ray licenses.

Next external Snow Leopard build

For what it's worth, AppleInsider is picking up hints that Apple in the process of preparing the next external seed of Snow Leopard for developers, which we hear will most likely be Mac OS X 10.6 build 10A314, give or take a few builds. When it will hit remains unclear.

While our previous Snow Leopard build prediction was accurate, we note that the software remains on a rolling timeline and Apple's intentions for pre-release distributions can fluctuate rapidly. That said, we're also hearing that the Mac maker is likely to forgo inclusion of the much rumored interface changes in this seed for a release as part of the build that will drop during WWDC.

Final Cut Studio 3 "soon"

Hardmac also appears to be corroborating AppleInsider's report of a Final Cut Studio 3 release in the near term, but adds a twist. According to the rumor, Apple will "start to re-examine its range of video software" with the release, which will be two-pronged: an initial distribution will reportedly consist of a 32-bit version of the suite but will be followed 64-bit version compatible only with Snow Leopard due to a QuickTime X requirement.

The rumor adds that Shake will see an update "soon," while Logic won't be refreshed until sometime this fall. On Tuesday, AppleInsider provided its predictions for a series of other Pro applications, including significant but incremental updates to ProRes, Color, Final Cut Server, Motion, and Xsan.

Xserve, Mac Pro and notebooks

Meanwhile, Hardmac also threw some vague hardware rumors into the mix. Specifically, it claims the Xserve update reported by AppleInsider this week (1, 2) may not arrive till June, at which time Apple may also add a 3.2GHz Mac Pro configuration to its catalog sporting a Quadro FX 5800 graphics card.

The bit about the Xserve would be contrary to what Apple store representatives have been telling recent Xserve buyers, namely that their orders would be delayed in anticipation of new models, but only by a couple of weeks.

That said, it wouldn't be unlike the Mac maker to hold back on a hardware release that's otherwise primed and certified to hit the market. Coincidently, its been the company's Xeon-based systems (Xserve, Mac Pro) that tend to fall into this basket more often than not.

This was most recently the case with the two Mac Pro releases (1, 2) that preceded this month's Nehalem models. These machines sat completed in Apple's labs for some time prior to their release, waiting for management to give the green light.

In one final rumor, Hardmac claims MacBooks and MacBook Pros "will move to Nehalem in November." The only problem with this rumor is that NVIDIA and Intel will first need to settle their differences, as it's more than likely Apple wants to proceed with NVIDIA chipsets and Intel processors in its notebook line, something Intel is seeking to prevent from happening with its lawsuit against NVIDIA. (NVIDIA recently counter-sued Intel.)

On MacBidouille

For those interested, MacBidouille was at one time an extremely reliable source of forward-looking Apple information before it surrendered to pressure from Apple and conceded its role in the Apple rumor community. Recently, however, the site has returned to publishing an occasional rumor here and there.