Availability of the new forums is a significant shift from its existing, highly restrictive policy that has in general prohibited all of its developers from talking about the features and technologies related to its unannounced operating system, even to other developers bound to the same Non-Disclosure Agreements.
Apple has recently relaxed its developer policy in connection with iPhone development, easing the paranoia that had kept book authors and teachers interested in sponsoring iPhone development classes on edge.
The new move to not just allow developers to share their ideas and experiences with each other, but to actually provide an official forum for discussing the features of the unreleased new operating system, comes as welcome news to companies who can both benefit from and contribute to the discussions about Apple's latest software.
The developer forums won't be available to the public, nor to student developers, but only to members of Apple's Premier and Select developer programs, who also have access to the developer seed releases. Apple describes the forums as being in beta, a curious concept given that the company has operated forums on other topics for many years.
In a mailing to its developer program members, Apple said the new developer forums will "provide a collaborative environment to post Mac OS X Snow Leopard development topics and questions for an open discussion with other Mac developers and Apple engineers."