Cats Out of Bag on New Mac OS X Versions
Now that Apple Computer Inc. has tamed its Puma update to Mac OS X, the company is setting its sights on the next client and server versions of the Unix-based operating system.
Those plans include two other big cats, sources said: Mac OS X 10.2, code-named Jaguar, and an upgrade to Mac OS X Server, code-named Tigger.
Sources this week said Apple has finished work on Mac OS X 10.1 (which carried the code name Puma) and has sent the revised version of the operating system to duplication. Although no final release date has been announced, users should be able to download or obtain CD-ROM versions of the update by the end of September, as CEO Steve Jobs promised at Julys Macworld Expo in New York.
Apples software development team will concentrate on the next round of interim tweaks before it turns its full attention to the Jaguar update, which probably wont reach end users until Januarys Macworld Expo in San Francisco at the earliest, the sources said. Apple reportedly plans to tie up some loose ends in Puma with at least three interim upgrades that will ship about once every six weeks.
And servers, too
Meanwhile, Apple is reportedly prepping Mac OS X Server 10.1 (code-named Tigger), a heavy-duty version of the operating system that will be packaged with administration as well as Web and e-mail serving tools.
According to sources, Tigger will include few new features; instead, development efforts have focused on improving performance, which has reportedly been a sore point among the pros who employ the server OS.
Besides bug fixes, Mac OS X Server 10.1 will add in a few new modules for the Apache Web serving software and a new Macintosh Manager. In addition, the update will inherit Jaguars speed improvements and UI changes.
Mac OS X Server 10.1 is expected to ship soon after the client version, sources said.
Ready for Puma
As Jobs announced at Macworld Expo, Mac OS X 10.1 will feature a DVD player, a feature of the classic Mac OS that was included in versions 8 and later but was missing from the initial releases of Mac OS X. It will also pack a few user interface tweaks and speed improvements that both internal Apple documents and early users call "significant."
As previously reported, Mac OS X 10.1 will see performance gains that close the gap between the new and old operating systems -- various benchmarks and user experience had shown that simple tasks and most applications ran appreciably slower in early versions of Mac OS X compared with Mac OS 9. Reports from users of late builds of Mac OS X 10.1 have indicated that the perceived speed difference is minimal at worst.
For example, resizing windows, which often seemed glacial in Mac OS X 10.0, now works in real time, as it does under Mac OS 9. Apple representatives have said that Mac OS X 10.1 will include more optimizations for the PowerPC G4s Velocity Engine, an on-chip feature that accelerates certain multimedia operations. However, they would not say whether this will widen the performance gap of the operating system on newer vs. older PowerPC G3-based systems.
Mac OS X 10.1 also incorporates UI changes in response to vociferous complaints from early adopters.
Specifically, Mac OS Xs Dock, which combines the features of an application launcher, an application switcher and window shades, can now be moved from its position at the bottom of the screen and "pinned" to the left- or right-hand margin. In addition, tweaks to the Dock will enable quicker access to options for minimized applications and to files within folders in the Dock.
Mac OS X 10.1 will also enable drag-and-drop burning of data to CD-R and CD-RW media directly from the Finder. Apple said this enhancement should eliminate the need for specialized CD-burning software.
As with previous updates to Mac OS X, Version 10.1 should be available for downloading through the operating systems Software Update feature. However, some reports have posited that early versions of the update package weighed in at up to 450MB, making this an unlikely option even for users with high-speed Internet access.
Apple has said that registered Mac OS X users will be able to order CD-ROM versions of the update at a cost of less than $20 for shipping and handling. However, a recent Wall Street Journal article suggested that these disks will be distributed free at Apples own retail stores across the United States.