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Apple previews Exchange features in Snow Leopard, quietly drops ZFS

By John Rizzo

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Apple listed support of Microsoft Exchange as one of three major feature areas of the upcoming Snow Leopard OS. Apple demonstrated the Exchange integration features built into Mail, Address Book, and iCal in Mac OS X 10.6 at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco yesterday. Apple said that along with Exchange support, the other two major changes in are user refinements to Leopard and "powerful new technologies," such as 64-bit and handling of multiple cores. Apple also set a ship date of September for the new OS.

Apple did not mention or demonstrate Snow Leopard Server, but issued information in a press release and at the Snow Leopard Server web pages. Apple said the server is twice as fast as Leopard Server.

Absent from the keynote or the press releases was any mention of the ZFS file system. Apple has also removed ZFS from it's now Leopard Server web pages, where it was previously had been listed as a new features. Apple had previously touted ZFS as beneficial to "business-critical server deployments." Apple had previously said that "Snow Leopard Server adds read and write support for the high-performance, 128-bit ZFS file system, which includes advanced features such as storage pooling, data redundancy, automatic error correction, dynamic volume expansion, and snapshots."

Apple's apparent dropping of ZFS is reminscent of Microsoft's decision to drop it's plans to include a new WinFS file system in Windows Vista and Windows servers. The current file systems of Mac OS X and Windows, HFS Plus and NTFS, are more than ten years old.

Smooth Integration with Exchange

The keynote address, the only session of the conference made available to the public, focused mostly on iPhone 3.0 software and the new iPhone 3G S, which are shipping this month. In the 2-hour keynote to 5200 developers and press, Apple spent only half an hour talking about Snow Leopard. A good portion of that was spent on demonstrating the Exchange client features built into Mail, iCal, and Address book.

Configuring the three applications for Exchange is a simple matter of opening Mail and entering an email address and password. The Mac will then communicate with the Exchange Server, and all three applications are automatically set up to become Exchange clients. Exchange Server email, folders, contacts, calendars, and notes, and the Global Address List (GAL) become visible in Mail, iCal, and Address Book.

In Mail, users can do a Spotlight search on Exchange data, and accept or decline meeting invitation. Mail also lets users use Mac OS X QuickLook to preview Office documents that are attachments to email messages -- even if the user doesn't have Office installed on the Mac.

You can schedule and accept meetings in iCal as well as check the availability of people and rooms. In a new iCal event, users can go to the Location field and search the GAL for a meeting room. If the time slot is taken, iCal will search Exchange for the next available time and propose it.

Address Book displays a list of Exchange users and groups from the GAL next to personal contacts. Another way to schedule a meeting is to drag an Exchange contact folder from Address Book to iCal.

Snow Leopard's Exchange client functionality works only with Exchange Server 2007.

Apple confirmed that Snow Leopard Server will only runs on Intel Macs, dropping support of legacy PowerPC Macs.

Snow Leopard Server will be available for US $29 for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard users. Users of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger will have to pay $169 for a bundle of the OS and the iLife applications. The price of Leopard Server was cut in half to $499 for unlimited clients.
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