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For PC lovers, it's October 22nd that's circled in your calendar. But

that's not the only major OS that's launching this fall. This week at

Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference in California, the company

announced that its long awaited OS X Snow Leopard operating system

would be shipping in September, undercutting Microsoft's own debut by a

solid month. Apple already told us that Snow Leopard was less about

being a completely new OS and more about refining the innovations in OS

X Leopard, but we never imagined it would get priced as such.

Instead of charging folks $129 as usual, Apple will sell Snow Leopard

for just $29 if you already own Leopard. That's right -- a new OS for

$29. We haven't heard what Microsoft plans on charging for Windows 7,

but we can guarantee you even the upgrade rates from Vista to 7 will be

well above $29. As for Snow Leopard itself, users can expect a more

responsive Finder, Mail that loads messages some 85% faster, quicker

Time Machine backups and a 64-bit version of Safari 4. The OS will also

ship with QuickTime X, a redesigned player that'll make viewing

YouTube, MobileMe or iTunes media much simpler.

There's also an architecture that relies much more heavily on a 64-bit

platform, which Apple asserts will lead to significant boosts in

performance all around. There's also OpenCL support, Exchange Server

2007 support and Grand Central Dispatch (GCD), which is described as "a

revolutionary new way for software to take advantage of multicore

processors." OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard will cost Leopard users just $29,

while the upgrade from Tiger will run $169.