Mounting clues point toward an Aug. 28 release date for Snow Leopard, the next version of Apple's Mac OS X operating system.
Last week, reports circulated that Apple, which had promised to ship Snow Leopard sometime next month, would in fact launch the upgrade on Friday, Aug. 28. Additional hints that have appeared since then further point to an early release for Mac OS X 10.6.
Late yesterday, Apple enthusiast site MacRumors noted that Apple's UK-specific online store briefly showed a ship date for the Snow Leopard "Up-to-Date" program as Aug. 28.
Mac OS X Snow Leopard Up-to-Date is a program Apple devised nearly two months ago that provides customers who buy a new Leopard-powered Mac between June 8 and Dec. 26 with a copy of Snow Leopard for a $US9.95 shipping and handling fee.
As of mid-day Friday, the Apple UK store description of the Up-to-Date program had reverted to a broader "September" ship date.
Several users on the MacRumors' message thread associated with the report said that their credit cards had been charged the £7.95 for the Up-to-Date" program disc shipping and handling fee. Another user posted screenshots of a chat with an Apple customer service representative that showed the Apple employee confirming the Aug. 28 launch.
"It will start shipping on Aug. 28 for you," the representative wrote in the chat with a user identified only as "macJC50640" in the MacRumors forum.
Several calls by Computerworld to Apple's toll-free sales number today, however, were answered by representatives who professed ignorance of a ship date for Snow Leopard. "We don't know when it will ship," said one rep. "We're anxiously awaiting it, too."
Also on Thursday, the Macenstein Web site cited sources within Apple's customer support center outside of Sacramento, Calif., who said that training on Snow Leopard had begun.
The site posted several leaked documents from support training sessions, and concluded that the Aug. 28 release date is likely.
Earlier in the week, a glitch on Apple's U.S. online store revealed that it would ship the new Mac Box Set, a bundle that includes a Snow Leopard upgrade for users running Tiger, or Mac OS X 10.4, within 24 hours.
Snow Leopard requires an Intel-based Mac and Mac OS X 10.5, and sells for $US29 in a single-license edition, $US49 for a five-license Family Pack. Users running Tiger must instead purchase the more expensive Box Set, which will cost $US169 for a single license and $US229 for a five-license pack.