The next major release of Mac OS X, called Panther, is now ready for prime time. Apple Computer Inc. on Wednesday announced that Mac OS X 10.3, including the server-based version of the operating system, will be available starting at 8 p.m. Pacific time on Oct. 24.
Mac OS X 10.3, including the server version, will be available in retail stores and through Apple resellers. The desktop version will cost $129 for a single license, while the server OS is $499 for a 10-client edition or $999 for an unlimited-client edition. Apple on Wednesday began taking pre-orders at The Apple Store online.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs first unveiled the Panther operating system in June at the Cupertino, Calif., companys Worldwide Developers Conference.
The desktop release includes 150 new features, Apple said, including a new Finder. The new user interface provides users with access to files with one click; a new navigational feature called Expose that can toggle groups of windows at once; and desktop video conferencing through iChat AV, currently in beta release.
for a detailed look at Panthers features.
On the server side, Apple touted the integration of open-source software within the OS to support mixed Mac, Windows and Linux clients. Apple said it will be the first major vendor to ship the Samba 3 file and print services for Windows within the OS. Samba is integrated with Apples Open Directory, which allows, for example, Windows users to authenticate against a Panther-based server from within a PC login window.
Panther Server also adds a new management module, Server Admin, that enables administrators to manage and monitor multiple services built into the OS.
“Panther Server is the biggest release of Mac OS X Server ever,” Philip Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide product marketing at Apple, said in a statement.
According to Apple, the new Finder in Mac OS X 10.3 searches for files six times faster than in Mac OS X 10.2 (a k a Jaguar). It also provides dynamic network browsing for Mac file servers as well as other Unix and Windows systems.
The Expose feature is built on the Mac OS X Quartz graphic engine and lets users quickly organize overlapping desktop windows into thumbnail views in order to more-easily switch among them. Its iChatAV adds full-screen and full-motion video through broadband into the instant messaging application.
Among the other new features in Panther is the ability to switch among active users without quitting applications or logging out, tighter security with 128-bit encryption for securing data in the home directory and greater Windows compatibility, including support for Microsoft Exchange built into Apples Mail and Address applications for accessing Exchange e-mail and syncing contacts.
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Along with Samba 3, Panther Server includes Apples Open Directory 2, an LDAP directory and Kerberos authentication server based on the open-source OpenLDAP directory and Berkeley DB embedded database and with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Kerberos KDC authentication protocol.
Also on Wednesday, Apple announced the availability of new versions of its iCal calendar software and iSync synchronization software. iCal 1.5.1 adds a new interface for creating and managing event details and has more support for time zones. iSync 1.2.1 adds support for Symbian-based smart phone and new mobile phones from Sony Ericsson. Both are available now for download and require Mac OS X 10.2.5.
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