Apple's upcoming operating system, Mac OSX Snow Leopard, could arrive earlier than the expected September launch date. Multiple sources are reporting that Snow Leopard has now been designated "Gold Master" status, which means the OS is ready to ship to users.
Mac OSX 10.6 Snow Leopard could be on sale as early as Friday, August 28 according to reports from Daring Fireball's John Gruber. Apple also released on Wednesday a final update for OSX Leopard (10.5.8), which could indicate that the next version of the OS is on its way.
Now with a "Golden Master" status, Snow Leopard is reportedly already on its way to manufacturing, where it will be recorded onto DVDs, according to a report from AppleInsider. The site also reports this final build is on its way to Apple technicians and support staff.
Amazon is already taking pre-orders for Snow Leopard and on the sales pages mentions that an "official release date has not been announced by Apple, though they have indicated this product will be released sometime in September." Back in June, Apple said that Snow Leopard will arrive in September, but they haven't mentioned any specific launch date.
Mac OSX 10.6 Snow Leopard's pricing is set at $29.99 for a single-user license and a 5-user license (Family Pack) will cost $49. A Mac Box Set, which includes Snow Leopard, iLife and iWork (productivity suite), is priced at $169 for a single-user license and at $229 for a 5-user license.
For more information about what's new in OSX 10.6, my colleague Nick Mediati has a list of 5 things you should know about Snow Leopard.
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