Mac OS New Years Prospects

En route to Macworld Expo, the Mac community is talking about a couple of Apple announcements&#151and the perennial subject of Mac OS X for x86.

While much of the tech world slows down for the winter holidays, the Mac community is warming up for one of the biggest events of its traditional social calendar: Macworld Expo/San Francisco.

As we move into the final heat before Steve Jobs latest revelations, Mac users are keeping the home fires burning thanks to some small but interesting announcements from Apple Computer and some intriguing speculation about what the Mac maker has up its sleeve for 2003.

Among the items currently making the rounds are a couple of official revelations affecting the state of the Mac OS—the latest update to Mac OS X 10.2 and a temporary reprieve for users who want to boot their Macs out of Mac OS 9—and some new twists on the longstanding discussion about the prospects for Mac OS X on the x86 architecture.

Lets aim at the easy targets first. Apple last week took the wraps off Mac OS X 10.2.3, the latest in a steady series of updates the company has issued since introducing Mac OS X 10.2 (a k a Jaguar) in August.

Like the previous interim releases, the new version nails some bugs, boosts performance perceptibly on many systems and improves compatibility with a variety of peripherals. And as it did with Mac OS X 10.2.1, Apple has used this update as a low-key launchpad for some new features the company obviously didnt want to hold until next summer (when sources say Apple plans to release Mac OS X 10.3, code-named Panther).

Last time out, Apple surprised Mac users (at least those who hadnt read our coverage in eWEEK) by introducing a journaling option built atop Mac OS Xs HFS+ file system. This time, the company has improved the lot of gamers with system-level support for force feedback. And concurrent with the 10.2.3, Apple has introduced a preview Version 2.0 of the venerable AppleScript editor, which offers UI scripting to let power users control even those applications that dont support scripting.

As we near the halfway mark between Jaguar and Panther, its nice to know that Apple is keeping the game interesting with a steady trickle of nifty system-level enhancements.