Jobs Romances the Enterprise at WWDC

In a major pitch to the enterprise, Apple's CEO discussed support for ActiveDirectory, LDAP and a new rack mount server at its developer's conference Monday.

SAN JOSE, CALIF. - Apple Computer Inc. CEO Steve Jobs reached out to the enterprise during his Monday keynote speech to Mac and Unix developers at Apples annual Worldwide Developers Conference here.

In addition to a promised "confidential sneak peek" at Jaguar, the long-awaited next major release of Mac OS X due late this summer, Jobs unwrapped surprises aimed at bringing the Unix-based OS into the mainstream of enterprise environments. Those announcements included new support for cross-platform standards such as ActiveDirectory, SMB, Bluetooth, LDAP and Kerberos as well as the official acknowledgement of Apples first dedicated, rack-mounted server hardware.

Meanwhile, Jobs took the wraps off a number of end-user niceties, including interface enhancements such as spring-loaded folders; a new Sherlock 3 search application; and InkWell and iChat, new handwriting-recognition and chat capabilities. A new technology called Rendezvous (which Apple is proposing as an industry standard) would "have computers discover each other and share stuff dynamically" by seeking out each others IP addresses.

According to the company, Rendezvous will allow users to share files and USB-based printers as well as stream media over AirPort wireless networks. Jobs said that developers could use this API for all computers and devices.

Likewise, Jobs said the InkWell APIs are integrated into the Mac OS X text system, so that any application could accept text input; he demonstrated InkWells capabilities with Adobe Photoshop 7, showing how text could be handwritten into a style in a Photoshop layer.

Jobs highlighted the close integration of Jaguar and QuickTime 6, the MPEG 4-based upgrade to Apples multimedia technology.

One theme of Jobs speech was Apples efforts to support standards that will make Mac OS X an equal partner with Windows and Unix clients in heterogeneous networking environments. In addition to support for IPV6 and IPSec, Jobs announced support for the CUPS print engine, LDAP (Open Directory), SMB browsing and sharing, and Virtual Private Network (PPTP). To applause from the crowd, Jobs also announced support for ActiveDirectory and enhanced support for Microsoft Exchange.

Joining Jobs onstage, Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Avadis Tevanian emphasized Jaguars compliance with C++, which he said it inherited from its support for GCC 3.0.

"GCC 3.0 is absolutely huge," Rob Minnis, technical project manager for Dallas-based Mumbo Jumbo, told eWEEK after the event. "More and more of our applications are written using C++. GCC 3.0 will make cross-platform development a lot easier."

On the graphics front, Apple announced Quartz Extreme, an enhancement to Mac OS Xs imaging layer that will combine 2D, 3D and video graphics with hardware acceleration, all based on the OpenGL standard. It requires Macs with an AGP 2x video card that packs at least 32MB of video RAM, the company said. Demonstrations showed real-time 3D objects rotating over two-dimensional, transparent windows, all running over a live DVD playback, with no apparent slowdown. Jobs said the new iMacs and eMacs will support Quartz Extreme, although Macs with Rage 128 or earlier cards will be left out in the cold.

Excluding a glimpse at a brushed-metal faceplate resembling the Titanium PowerBook, Jobs declined to provide additional details about the "major release" of a dedicated, rack-mounted server until its unveiling May 14. Nevertheless, he did specify a few features of the new server OS that will accompany it. Besides LDAP, NetBoot and NetInstall support, the server will be able to run headless. It will also feature a server-optimized Java Virtual Machine; disk, print and mail quotas; and support for Python, Fast CGI, TCL and Ruby.

Jobs opened the event by laying to rest Mac OS 9, the last version of the classic Mac OS, in typically theatrical fashion. As "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" burst from speakers, a black coffin arose from the stage; Jobs opened the coffin, produced a Mac OS 9 box and proceeded to read the OS eulogy.

In case the point was lost, Jobs turned to the audience and said, "It isnt dead for our customers yet, but its dead to you."

Matthew Rothenberg contributed to this report.