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Apple's Mac OS X 10.6 code named "Snow Leopard" - report

Apple is indeed well into the development of Mac OS X 10.6, which the company has internally code-named "Snow Leopard," according to ArsTechnica.

Citing a person familiar with the situation, the technology website confirms several details of the next major Mac OS X upgrade first reported on Tuesday, including a scheduled release as soon as Macworld 2009 this coming January, and that it will not introduce any major new features.

Instead, Snow Leopard is said to focus heavily on performance optimization and security, a move that will in all likelihood widen the gap between Mac OS X and Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system in those areas.

"Things like the MacBook Air, iPhone, iPod touch, and other mysterious devices that have yet to be announced need better performance for better battery life, and that's definitely something Apple wants to excel at in the years to come," wrote Ars' Jacqui Cheng.

Unconfirmed is whether the software will be shown off or discussed at the company's annual developers conference next week. However, AppleInsider in recent weeks has been told to expect discussion of "another big cat" at the event.

Also unconfirmed, but somewhat likely, is that Apple will completely wrap Snow Leopard in its Cocoa application programming interface (API) set, meaning that applications written via the company's legacy Carbon API will fail to run on the new system.

Adding corroboration to an AppleInsider report published last September, Ars adds that Mac OS X 10.6 is expected to support only Intel-based Macs, leaving owners of PowerPC-based systems of yesteryear out in the cold.

Update: Ars updates its report saying: "There may be some disagreement here as to what exactly "Cocoa-only" means, so take that into account when thinking about this. For example, Apple may only axe Carbon UI stuff."