Mac OS X 10.6: First Impressions of Snow Leopard as Announced so Far

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When Apple announced they were releasing a new version of the Mac OS so soon after the initial release, I nearly threw a hammer through the dashboard.  Why so soon?  We were just getting Mac OS X 10.5 training down, and now they have 10.6 coming as soon as January?  That's Crazy! But then, when I heard about the goal of 10.6, it made a bit more sense.  So what is that goal?
  1. Streamline the OS.  They want to streamline Mac OS X so that it runs more efficiently, particularly when it comes to power consumption.  Apple is no fool:  They know that energy prices are going up, and more people are moving to notebooks.  They also know that notebook owners are away from an outlet longer these days.  So, battery life needs to be improved.  The OS will be optimized for this event.  
  2. OpenCL Processing Power:  All that processing power in the GPU that can't be accessed,  all going to waste!  Why not use it as another processor in the machine?  The processing speed goes up overall on the machine while decreasing the need for faster (and more power-intensive) processors.  I'm not fully aware of what OpenCL can do, but from the whitepapers on the topic, it looks promising.  
  3. Security:  Apple has been plagued with some security news lately, mostly due to Safari's vulnerabilities.  That will be focused on within this release, making Mac OS X more secure as a result.  I'm interested to see the results when they are done.
  4. Exchange Integration:  Finally!  Mac is going to integrate Exchange into iCal and AddressBook (or Directory, either of which will be fine).  That means users can finally stop having to use that train-wreck, er, I mean program called Entourage to work with their Exchange calendars.  I'd also like to see some Exchange plugins for Calendar Server, allowing integration and publishing from the Server side of things.  
There are a couple of other features that are slated to come to Snow Leopard, but nothing major.  No new features like Spaces or Dashboard, which make the next upgrade necessary.  So why will people move to Snow Leopard after having purchased Leopard a little over a year ago?  Because of the Exchange features.  That is the Spaces of Leopard, and the Dashboard of Tiger.  It's the killer app that everyone will want, because they need to work in an Exchange environment.  
Now, the question is whether or not the upgrade will be free to all Leopard owners, or a paid upgrade.  Well, that's hard to say.  Traditionally all major updates (10.3 to 10.4 and so on) have been paid updates.  But then they didn't come out so soon after the last OS was released.  And Steve hasn't been too stingy when it comes to upgrading a device OS because the money is made on the device (i.e., iPhone or Apple TV).  Will that be the case here, since the money is made on the computer, and it's so soon after 10.5 was released?  Only time will tell.  
So those are my impressions of Snow Leopard.  The only thing left to say is I hope the Training doesn't change significantly, because it would mean going through the upgrade certification all over again, and I'm not sure it's something the department can do so soon.