Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) isn't an official pick of our Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking service, but it has a habit of breaking the rules all the same.

The iEmpire launched its latest rebellion with the release of Snow Leopard on Friday, the newest edition of Mac OS X, which:

  • At $29, costs about what you'd pay for a fast-food dinner for a family of four.
  • Frees up to 7 gigabytes space on your Mac by eliminating digital clutter.
  • Offers built-in support for Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Exchange network services, making Macs a whole lot more business-friendly.

Contrast that with Vista, or even Windows 7. You can argue that Snow Leopard won't do much to forestall enthusiasm for 7 -- and I think you'd be right -- but you'd still have to admit that Apple is zigging just as Microsoft is zagging, going for smaller, smarter, and cheaper just as Mr. Softy is vying for bigger and better.

Plus, the upgrade comes at an important time. Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA), and ARM Holdings (NASDAQ:ARMH), among others, are throwing weight behind the netbook form factor just as Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) is reporting better-than-expected results. Technology buyers may finally be coming back. To get them to come back to the Mac, Apple needs an OS that does better business. Snow Leopard is that OS.

"Once a system administrator provides setup details, your company's Microsoft Exchange address book, e-mail and calendar can show up in the Mac's own address book, e-mail and calendar programs, right alongside your own personal information," writes The New York Times' David Pogue in his review of the new OS. The implication? CIOs are out of excuses; Macs are now built to run Office applications such as Outlook in Windows networks, natively.

In short: The Mac is back, growling and hungry for market share.

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Apple and NVIDIA are Stock Advisor selections. Dell, Intel, and Microsoft are Inside Value picks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Apple at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy is on safari, hunting for the perfect vista from which to spot snow leopards. Bring a jacket if you want to come along.