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Snow Leopard roadmap; Pro app updates in pipeline

Recently, AppleInsider has been provided with a bit more clarity on Apple's pre-release build cycles for Snow Leopard in addition to being tipped off to several Pro application updates currently undergoing beta tests.

Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

According to people familiar with the matter, Apple's roadmap for the final stretch of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard development currently calls for the release of three 'key' builds through the company's high-membership Apple Developer Connection.

Each of the builds will carry a significance in its own right, the first of which is scheduled to appear between now and the start of WWDC 2009 during the second week of June. This build will reportedly include "big updates" to system components and functionality.

The next build is said to arrive alongside the start of WWDC on June 8th. It's expected to be the first build of the next-gen OS that will be "feature complete," bundling significant changes to the Mac OS X interface, assuming those changes are not approved for inclusion in the aforementioned build.

A third and final build is tentatively scheduled to make its way to developers in the weeks between WWDC and the software's formal release. This build is expected to serve as a lead-in to the final candidate stage that precedes the declaration of a Gold Master build suited for duplication on optical media.

People familiar with the matter have previously estimate that it will take Apple upwards of two-months from the time it shows off a feature complete Snow Leopard at WWDC to deliver the software to market, suggesting a release date around August.

Apple may also choose to seed more marginal builds intermittently between these key builds if it runs into unexpected issues and requires additional feedback from developers.

Mac OS X 10.5.7 Juno

Meanwhile, Mac OS X 10.5.7 remains on track for a release sometime during the month of April. The release, code-named Juno, will be the seventh maintenance and security update to Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard since its release in October 2007. It will also be one of the last updates to Leopard with Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard rapidly approaching.

Developers have been receiving new builds of Juno on a weekly basis, usually on Thursday or Friday evenings. The latest, which arrived this weekend, was labeled Mac OS X 10.5.7 build 9J39. It bundled five new fixes, bringing the total number of documented code corrections expected in the release to 99.

Amongst the areas addressed in build 9J39 were issues with iChat encryption, Mail signatures, USB drivers, and System Profiler's ability to properly show information on Mini DisplayPort adapters.

Pro App updates

Also under evaluation by developers and a select group of creative professionals are several Pro Application updates that are nearing a public release. Among them is a new version of Apple's ProRes Codec for its high-definition lossy video compression format and a significant update to the company's professional color grading software application labeled Color 1.5.

Furthermore, Apple is testing significant but incremental updates to Final Cut Server and Motion 4, both of which should see a release in the near term. Video production houses that uses these applications alongside Xsan 2.x may also be interested in learning that a new point release of cluster file system software code-named "Carrera" is also due for release shortly. Xsan was last updated to version 2.1 in June of 2008.