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Tuesday, April 21, 2009, 11:00 am PT (02:00 pm ET)

Apple to drop new Snow Leopard beta on developers

Apple sometime this week is expected to tap its developers to begin testing a new pre-release copy of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, signaling a clear acceleration of the beta test process.

The Cupertino-based company issued the first external build of next-gen operating system back in June of last year but did not follow up a new distribution for more than four months. Since then, new builds have arrived every four to six weeks, on average.

Now, people familiar with the matter say Apple is gearing up to provide developers with a second build of Snow Leopard during the month of April, three weeks or so after offering up build 10A314 near the top of the month.

The target build for this week's release is said to be Mac OS X 10.6 build 10A335, which of course is always subject to change. Again, there are rumors that this new build may include some much anticipated visual tweaks to the Mac OS X interface but given that those rumors did not materialize last time, it may be safe to assume that June's Worldwide Developers Conference may be the more likely forum for these disclosures.

It's also rumored that the new Snow Leopard will incorporate a pre-release build of Apple Remote Desktop 3.3. This maintenance release to the remote administration software reportedly goes by the code-name "Hook" and was commissioned with the primary purpose of delivering compatibility with Snow Leopard, though it will also include a number of bug fixes.

Apple last provided its third-party developers with a new build of Snow Leopard on April 1st, encouraging them to focus their attention on delivering 64-bit compatibility in their third party kernel extensions.

While previewing Snow Leopard last June for the first time, the Mac maker stated that it hoped to release the software approximately one year later. However, the most recent estimates from those familiar with beta tests have suggested an August date may be more likely.