updated 11:10 am EDT, Thu April 2, 2009
New Mac OS X 10.6 seed
Apple is asking developers to concentrate more heavily on 64-bit code testing for Snow Leopard, say people using the latest seed of the OS. While build 10A314 introduces some important changes, including an updated edition of Xcode and remote installation on the MacBook Air, one of the key changes is said simply to be direction from Apple to ensure 64-bit kernel extensions are functioning. The OS cannot operate in 64-bit mode if matching extensions are missing, reports note.
While the OS can sometimes default to 32-bit extensions if necessary, developers risk creating incompatibilities, and missing out on some of the speed enhancements made possible through 64-bit code. Such problems were common in the early days of both Windows XP and Vista, as the 64-bit editions of the platforms are separate and once lacked native drivers and applications. Snow Leopard benefits from a unified OS, a smaller number of hardware variations, and first-party control of many kernel-level drivers.
Apple is however said to be supplying developers with a new transition guide for 64-bit conversion, with the worry that some may find the process too complicated; coders should have until sometime this summer to prepare launch-ready apps and drivers. As expected, developer builds of Snow Leopard continue to lack major interface alterations. These may surface in time for WWDC.