Let me explain why. Apple knows its customers. They WANT to be excited about Apple's products. They know, that Snow Leopard won't deliver that experience. There is just not enough clearly perceivable difference in comparison to a clean Leopard installation. Being only $29 won't help completely. Apple fanboys are not after performance per dollar, but absolute satisfaction about superior products. Fans have gotten surprised by Apple so often, many still expected some hot new killer feature, that everybody would love - despite how often Apple would have repeated that Snow Leopard is just a minor improvement and more of a long term strategy. So it is good corporate anticipation to expect some major disappointment among its fan base. So why not flatten this spike and release the GM to all ADC Select & Premier members instead of just a few selected individuals? Every sane person knew this would mean an early leaking torrent. Many of those with the highest expectations would also be among the first downloaders (while having ordered a legit copy). So you can have a lot of their initial frustration already calmed down when SL's release finally hits the media. Additionally Windows 7 is riding on a very positive wave of opinion right now, something like "Windows finally done about right after decades". It's smart to release SL before that. You don't want to feed the media's hunger for polemics, like the positive surprise vs. the $29 disappointment. It think that's again all very smart. They'll keep the ball low at the Keynote, if there's going to be any at all, and they'll try to focus attention to what Leopard's "under the hood" changes mean for the future of the platform as a whole. While having a great foundation, SL also leaves us with a pretty inconsistent UI. This will be a fine selling point for 10.7, the most consistent UI on the planet.