Microsoft’s Windows 7 and Apple’s Snow Leopard have begun drawing comparisons as both operating systems approach their respective release dates. Despite a few business-centric improvements to Snow Leopard, however, study data suggests that it may make limited inroads in the enterprise and among small and midsize businesses. Windows 7 also may face a slower rate of business adoption despite its aesthetic and processing improvements.
Apple’s planned release of Snow Leopard on Aug. 28 has led to widespread comparisons between its newest operating system version and Microsoft’s Windows 7. Both operating systems offer aesthetic and performance refinements, but Snow Leopard also faces an uphill battle if Apple wishes to seize more substantial market share in the enterprise and in the small and midsize business realm.

Snow Leopard’s improvements are mostly under the hood, with an emphasis on speed. Mail loads in half the time as in Leopard Version 10.4.8, while initial backup of Time Machine is 80 percent faster, according to Apple. The 64-bit version of Safari 4 is 50 percent quicker than the 32-bit version, and the Finder has been fine-tuned to be more responsive, the company said. There is built-in support for Microsoft Exchange Server 2007. Snow Leopard also requires 7GB less space on the hard drive than the previous Mac OS X iteration.

Apple seems to be promoting rapid adoption of the new operating system by offering it to Mac OS X Leopard users for $29; those who purchase a Mac between June 8 and Dec. 26 will be able to purchase a Snow Leopard upgrade package for $9.95.

That strategy has the potential to work, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who estimates that Snow Leopard will ship 5 million copies through the end of September. Heading into its launch, the operating system has taken top spots on’s bestseller list on the strength of preorders.

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