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Not so fast -- the Snow Leopard that developers got is just a preview. But yes, it's a preview for Intel Macs only.
So you may have heard some rumors that the next version of OS X, code-named Snow Leopard, will work on Intel Macs only. Screenshots (and more) from the developer preview being handed out at WWDC attendees show that the current (emphasis on current) version of Snow Leopard requires "an Intel processor." Processor support for the final version, expected to ship in a year or so, is still unconfirmed.
However, even if the new cat won't play nice with PowerPC-based Macs, is that really so surprising? The wording of Apple's press release might hold a few clues. First it says that Snow Leopard is meant to enhance performance, not add new features. We think that could signal that PowerPC Macs could just stay on Leopard and not be missing much. (Unless developers stop making new apps for Leopard and focus all development on Snow Leopard, but that's not really Apple's call.) And if the goal is to "dramatically reduce the footprint of Mac OS X," wouldn't supporting two completely different processor types work against that?
The biggest new feature Apple has mentioned is support for Microsoft Exchange out of the box, which signals to us that this sleeker, Exchange-friendly OS might be part of an Apple push to be more attractive to enterprise customers. Snow Leopard plus the iPhone 2.0 software's Exchange support and enterprise-friendly security enhancements might make the Mac more attractive to businesses. And would any business be installing PowerPC-based hardware? They're going to want the new stuff.
In any case, the Intel-only system requirement is anything but final. Other things we know about Snow Leopard include the Mac OS X Server Snow Leopard's use of the ZFS file system. Snow Leopard will have Safari 4 (which was also seeded to developers at WWDC, including Windows, Leopard, and Tiger versions) Snow Leopard will let your Mac take advantage of 64-bit apps, and let you get more out of your hardware by letting the CPU borrow processing power from your GPU. Developers are rightly pretty stoked about that: "Speed is always important, and being able to develop for Snow Leopard will really boost what developers can make," developer Dustin Bachrach told MacNewsWorld.
What we don't know -- aside from the final system requirements, a specific release timeline, and oh, everything else -- is the price: Will Leopard users balk at paying a full $129 for increased speed and optimization? Stick with MacLife.com as more and more details emerge.