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Devs asked to test third party app support in Snow Leopard

Apple this week has tapped a handful of choice developers to test third party application support against a new build of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard in a sign the software is nearing a stage of refinement and optimization.

Mac OS X 10.6 build 10A261 is believed to be just the third external beta distribution of Snow Leopard since the next-gen operating system was first previewed at last June's Worldwide Developers Conference.

As of press time, however, the software was not available to the Mac maker's general developer community and was instead provided to a subset of testers sometimes privy to pre-release Apple software ahead of the broader developer population.

In addition to asking developers to focus their testing efforts on evaluating the stability of non-Apple software running on the system, the Cupertino-based company is also seeking feedback on a new set of included printer drivers and the latest implementation of Microsoft Exchange support.

Compared to earlier builds 10A190 and 10A222, it's reported that there are few noticeable changes to the software outside of some minor adjustments to the Mac OS X System Preferences pane and bug fixes to the new Cocoa-based Finder.

Apple has said that it plans to release Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard (topic page RSS feed) within a year's time of last year's June developers conference, meaning it could show up any time between early spring and the fall.

In the meantime, readers interested in learning about some of the real-world benefits of upcoming Snow Leopard technologies may want to check out AppleInsider's ongoing Road to Snow Leopard series.