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Apple bashes Windows 7, talks Snow Leopard

As part of the WWDC 2009 keynote, Apple's Bertrand Serlet takes a few swipes at the competition and talks about the next version of Mac OS X.

Updated 10:50 a.m. PDT: Added pricing information.

SAN FRANCISCO--While Microsoft is trying to position Windows 7 as an exciting new version of the operating system, Apple on Monday tried to characterize it as the same old Windows.

In a keynote speech at the Worldwide Developer Conference here, Apple's Bertrand Serlet said the underpinnings of Windows 7 include the same complexities that have been in the past versions of the operating system.

"That's Windows 7," he said. "Fundamentally, it's just another version of Windows Vista."

Bertrand Serlet at WWDC 2009
Bertrand Serlet speaking at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference. James Martin/CNET

Serlet tried to draw a contrast between Windows and what Apple is doing with Snow Leopard, the next version of its own operating system. "We've come at it from such a different place."

But while his rhetoric suggested a fundamental difference, Serlet actually characterized Snow Leopard in some of the same ways--as a better version of the existing Leopard operating system.

"We love Leopard," he said. "We are proud of Leopard."

The goal of Snow Leopard, he said, was really "to build a better Leopard."

There are other similarities between what Apple's and Microsoft's efforts. Among the new features in Snow Leopard is a feature that adds the Expose window--previewing feature to the Dock--not unlike the Aero Peek feature that Windows 7 has as part of its new task bar.

In fairness, there are some key differences between what Apple is doing with Snow Leopard compared to what Microsoft is doing with Windows 7.

Windows 7 is largely focused on improving the look and performance of the core Vista engine, while Snow Leopard goes more under the hood, aiming to better handle 64-bit processing and multicore capabilities.

Apple is also trying to boost its Windows compatibility story by adding Exchange server capability to Snow Leopard. According to Apple, all the user has to do is fill in an e-mail address and password, and the software will "auto-detect" the Exchange Server and make the user's calendar and mail available in Mac OS X's iCal and Mail programs.

The biggest pressure from Apple, though came on the pricing front. Serlet said that Apple will ship Snow Leopard in September and charge just $29 for Leopard owners to upgrade.

Microsoft has hinted that it will offer a cheaper upgrade for Vista users to move to Windows 7, but has not announced details.