Important Apple Mac improvements over the last five years

In the last five years, there have been several important improvements to Apple's Mac OS X operating system platform. This platform is designed to run on Apple's desktop, laptop, and server computer systems. From the first official version, Cheetah, released in 2001, to the most current version, Snow Leopard, released in 2009, there have been seven versions of Mac OS X. Each version of Mac OS X is traditionally code named after a big cat. The three most recent versions released since 2005, Tiger, Leopard, and Snow Leopard, will be discussed in this article.

Mac OS X Tiger, also known as version 10.4, was Apple's fifth major version of Mac OS X. It was officially released on April 29th, 2005, for $130, and was designed to succeed version 10.3, or Mac OS X Panther. Tiger was eventually succeeded by Mac OS X Leopard 30 months after its release, which made it the longest running official version of Mac OS X. Improvements from Panther to Tiger included Spotlight, Dashboard, a new theme, and the ability to run on both Power PC Apple computers and Apple Intel architecture computers, or Apple computers that used Intel's processors. Spotlight was a metadata and full text search engine capable of searching not only the names of files but the information contained inside files. Dashboard was a mini applications layer that allowed for the use of widgets such as weather, clocks, and calendars to provide information to the computer's owner. A new brushed metal theme known as Unified was also introduced with Tiger, as was the ability to install Mac OS X on the new Intel supported computers released by Apple, such as the Macbook, the Macbook Pro, the Mac Pro, and the new revisions of the iMac.

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Mac OS X Leopard, also known as version 10.5, was Apple's sixth major version of Mac OS X. It was officially released on October 26th, 2007, for $130, and was designed to succeed version 10.4, or Mac OS X Tiger. Leopard was eventually succeeded by Mac OS X Snow Leopard nearly two years after its release, which made it the second longest running official version of Mac OS X. Improvements from Tiger to Leopard included changes of applications and core system components, a redesigned desktop, the introduction of Time Machine, and increased support for Spotlight. Leopard was also the last version of Mac OS X capable of running on both Power PC and Intel architecture. Time Machine was a free automated backup utility that allowed users to recover accidentally deleted files.

Mac OS X Snow Leopard, also known as version 10.6, is Apple's seventh and most current version of Mac OS X. It was officially released on August 28th, 2009, for the significantly lower price of $30, which boosted initial sales of the operating system. The most current version of Snow Leopard itself, version 10.6.4, was released on June 15th, 2010. Unlike with previous revisions of Mac OS X, improvements from Leopard to Snow Leopard were not primarily located in the addition of new features for the end user, or the consumer. Rather, the majority of improvements to the operating system were "under the hood", and consisted of features to optimize and improve performance and efficiency, as well as to reduce the overall memory consumption of the operating system. Snow Leopard was also the first Mac OS operating system to solely support Apple Intel Architecture computers, meaning computers with Power PC processors such as Powerbooks, iBooks, and the older revisions of the iMac would no longer be able to run on the latest version of Mac OS X.