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Mac OS X Snow Leopard coming early?

According to an Apple executive's presentation, the OS X update could debut at the beginning of next year, slightly earlier than expected.

Apple's OS X Snow Leopard may be on tap for the start of the new year, slightly earlier than expected.

The update appears to be slated for debut in the first quarter of 2009, according to a slide presented by Jordan Hubbard, Apple's director of engineering for Unix technologies, at a conference last week.

Snow Leopard, or version 10.6 of the operating system, is expected to be optimized for multicore processors, include QuickTime X, and offer built-in support for Microsoft's Exchange 2007 software.

A slide presented on Friday by an Apple executive.

Apple previewed Snow Leopard in June. At that time, Apple said that Snow Leopard was "scheduled to ship in about a year."

Hubbard, presenting at LISA 08, or the Large Installation System Administration Conference, in San Diego on Friday showed a slide (PDF) that indicated Snow Leopard's debut would come in the first quarter of 2009, reported late Tuesday.

Hubbard's presentation raises speculation that Snow Leopard's debut could be pegged to the next MacWorld conference in San Francisco, which begins on January 5.