After weeks of speculation, Apple has confirmed that it will release Mac OS X 10.5, also known as Leopard, on Oct. 26 at retail Apple stores as well as through authorized resellers. Apple also began accepting pre-orders online as of Oct. 16.
Although the operating system was originally scheduled for a "Spring 2007" or June release, Apple disclosed that Leopard was delayed due to the engineering demands of producing Apples popular iPhone.
Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., also confirmed that it will release Mac OS X Server 10.5 Leopard on the same date. The Server version of Leopard gains new features such as Podcast Producer, Wiki Server and iCal Server, which are designed to support and serve these popular services.
Pricing will be $499 for a 10-client license, with an unlimited-client version costing $999.
The Leopard clients price will be $129 for the retail consumer version, with the five-user, single-household Family Pack costing $199. "Everyone gets the Ultimate version, packed with all the new innovative features, for just $129," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs, in a jab at the pricing scheme of Microsofts Windows Vista operating system.
Apple touts more than 300 new features for Leopard, though most users will be hard-pressed to notice some low-level ones, such as self-tuning TCP and application sandboxing.
The flashiest additions to this sixth version of Mac OS X are also the most controversial. To distinguish Leopard from Tiger visually, the new operating system will have a translucent menu bar, which some have said hampers visibility; the iPhone-like Cover Flow file browsing option; and, most discussed, a new version of the Dock.
The Dock is gaining a three-dimensional look and reflects not only icons but elements of the Finder window. Critics have pointed out that this goes against Apples own guidelines for icon perspective and light-sourcing, and looks odd when the Dock is placed to the side of the Finder window.
Leopard will also introduce Time Machine, Apples incremental backup solution. Given a flashy animated interface, Time Machine promises to allow users to set up automated backups to any external hard drive and to search backups for previous versions of files.
Click here to read a commentary about why Apple has kept Leopard under wraps for so long.
Other notable new features in Leopard include a full version of Boot Camp, Apples dual-boot solution for Windows; Web Clips in Dashboard; Wikipedia support in the bundled Dictionary; auto-activation of fonts; CalDAV group scheduling for iCal; tabbed chats and SMS (Short Message Service) forwarding in iChat; and stationery, Notes, To-Do lists and RSS reading in Mail.
The new edition also supports better printing and scanning over networks, the Spaces virtual desktop feature, improved Spotlight capabilities, including searching over a network, and better Universal Access, including Braille support.
Developers might appreciate some new Leopard abilities. Xcode 3 will include Objective-C 2.0 with garbage collection, "instant-on" debugging, code focus, a revised and faster editor, and a new Terminal application with movable tabs.
Leopard will be a fully certified Unix system, meeting the SUSv3 (Single Unix Specification) and POSIX 1003.1. It also gains full 64-bit application support, DTrace and Kerberized NFS (Network File System).
Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.