Next Mac OS X Upgrade: Panther

Apple is extending the feline theme of the company's "Jaguar" rev to the release due in early 2003, say sources. Apple Ups the Ante with Wide-Screen iMac, Ja

As Apple Computer prepares to "let the cat out of the bag" for Jaguar, aka Mac OS X 10.2, the companys marketing department has reportedly decided to continue the feline theme for the next significant upgrade to the Unix-based OS.

The rev formerly known as Pinot has been renamed Panther, sources reported, hinting that the faux-fur motif of the Jaguar release will continue when Panther ships in 2003.

Sources this month told eWEEK that the Panther release will mark another step away from Mac OS 9, the "classic" Mac OS that Apple continues to upgrade for compatibility with older applications. They said Apple is planning to "block" next-generation Macs preloaded with Panther from booting into Mac OS 9 although the company will continue to support applications running within Mac OS Xs Classic environment. (eWEEK reported last week that Jaguar will shed the traditional installation disc for Mac OS 9.)

Apple did not respond to requests for comment.

Panther will mark the third significant upgrade to Mac OS X since its debut—and the fourth big cat from Apple. The initial Mac OS X release bore the internal code name Cheetah, and Mac OS X 10.1, which shipped in September 2001, was referred to internally as Puma although neither moniker was ever publicized. (Mac OS X 10.2 Server was code-named Tigger, sources said, another sobriquet that never saw the light of day.)

By contrast, the Jaguar code name (which eWEEK first reported in September 2001) has become central to the Mac OS X 10.2 marketing campaign. In a break with Cupertino, Calif.-based Apples penchant for secrecy, CEO Steve Jobs publicly dubbed the forthcoming release Jaguar at Mays Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif. (Jobs pronounced the word "jagwire," a verbal tic that has been faithfully adopted by the Apple rank and file.) As Jobs announced at Julys Macworld Expo/New York, the retail version features a furry, jaguar-spotted version of the Mac OS X logo.

The $129 Jaguar release will make its debut on August 24, although last week it began shipping preloaded on the companys latest Mac models.

Apple this week announced it will usher in Jaguar with a coming-out party at its 35 retail outlets; the festivities begin August 23 at 10:20 p.m. and conclude at midnight.

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