OS X: Coming Soon

Although Mac OS X shipped in March, the next-generation operating system was far from finished. CD burning, DVD playback, and certain networking capabilities were among the features gone missing in the new OS.

Call off the search party. Apple announced what CEO Steve Jobs billed as the first major upgrade to OS X. Nicknamed "Puma," the OS X 10.1 update will include a faster, multi-threading-savvy kernel to improve the OS's performance, as well as enhancements to the Aqua interface. The update also sports some additions that OS X's early adopters have been crying for -- namely disk burning and the long-awaited DVD playback feature.

Other announced features include OS X's newfound ability to support more than 200 PostScript printers as well as LaserWriter 8. New networking features include support for AFP servers over AppleTalk, an SMB client, and the new WebDAV support. Under OS X 10.1, iDisk will run under WebDAV, allowing iDisk to stay on screen if your connection is interrupted.

The only drawback to the update is that you'll have to wait until September when it's slated to be available through the built-in software update feature within OS X.

"Our great software team worked really hard to get the first release out," Jobs said Wednesday. "But we didn't let them stop."

Jobs compared the 12-month transition from the Classic Mac OS to OS X to the face of a clock. Roughly four months removed from OS X's debut, Jobs said the transition to the new OS has reached the four o'clock position -- and the clock keeps ticking.

"If it's four o'clock now, it will be six o'clock when OS X 10.1 ships halfway through the transition," Jobs said.

To show off how OS X will look and act when that happens, Jobs gave Macworld Expo attendees a glimpse at some of the performance enhancements during a demo of the update. Jobs launched several applications, which all opened faster in OS X 10.1. Internet Explorer launched with one bounce of the icon in the OS X Dock. Sherlock launched in less than a bounce.

That speed boost also applies to resizing windows and scrolling through menus. "You name it, it's faster," Jobs said.

Aqua has undergone a few tweaks as well. The update will ship with a new scaling effect that shrinks windows down as they move into the Dock, instead of the warping them the way the "genie" effect does. Under OS X 10.1, you'll also be able to change the orientation of the Dock, so that it runs along either side of your screen instead of just the bottom. These features were available before, but only through applications such as Tinker Tool -- now they're built into the OS itself.

10.1 makes window resizing, in Jobs' words, "smooth as butter." The improved Aqua will also be possible to resize the columns in the Finder window.

The update makes some changes to the menu bar, adding controls for network connections, volume, displays, and AirPort. PowerBook users will be able to check their battery status from the brand-new System menus. Besides the added convenience, these menus won't take up any space in the Dock.

As for DVD playback -- you asked for it, you'll get it. The DVD player lives. To demonstrate the long-awaited feature -- and to stoke the fires of cross-promotional synergy, no doubt -- Jobs showed a clip from Toy Story 2 running on OS X.

Disk Burn is back with a vengeance. It will be able to burn data as well as music from iTunes--now bundled on OS X -- just as it does in OS 9. There was no mention during the keynote of support for third-party drives.

OS X features new digital camera support. Turn on a camera and plug it in via a USB cable, and the operating system will automatically launch an image capture application to load the pictures from the camera into a pictures folder. When Jobs tried to demonstrate the feature, the camera wouldn't turn on; the frustrated CEO tossed it off stage. By the end of the speech, however, the feature was up and running without a hitch.

Besides talking up OS X's forthcoming features, Jobs also touted the native applications that are in development. In the 116 days since OS X's launch, more than 1,000 applications have shipped that run natively in the new OS. This allows them to take advantage of OS X's features such as protected memory and preemptive multitasking.

Expect to see more applications, Jobs said. An Apple poll of Mac developers found that 29 percent planned to release an OS X-native product within three months of the Worldwide Developers' Conference in May. Fifty-five percent planned to release OS X products within six months of the conference.

Jobs called ten key developers up on stage in a segment he called "Ten on X." "They are ten of the next thousand apps that we are going to see on OS X in the coming months," he said.

The ten developers included:

  • Microsoft, which demonstrated an OS X-native version of its Office productivity suite. Kevin Browne, the head of Microsoft's Mac business unit, says the carbonized application includes more than 700 redesigned buttons and 800 dialog boxes that exploit the Aqua interface. "We combined Office's tools with the power of OS X to allow you to do things you could never do before in Office."
  • Adobe, which demonstrated OS X versions of Illustrator, GoLive, and InDesign. "These aren't just ports," said Shantanu Narayen, executive vice president of worldwide products and marketing. "Every one of them will take advantage of the new features in OS X."
  • Quark, which showed off QuarkXPress 5.X. Quark first plans to release QuarkXPress 5.0 -- a date hasn't been set yet -- before it puts out an OS X-native version of its design and layout application.
  • FileMaker, which showcased the already-released FileMaker Pro 5.5 and the just-announced FileMaker Server 5.5. "At FileMaker, our intent is not to ship one or two products for OS X, but by this fall, FileMaker will be one of the first companies to have 100 percent of its products available for OS X," said president Dominique Goupil.
  • Connectix, which demonstrated an OS X-ready version of Virtual PC. A free demo of the cross-platform application is available as a download for registered Virtual PC 4 users.
  • IBM, which demonstrated ViaVoice. The speech-recognition software should be available for OS X later this year.
  • World Book, which touted its interactive encyclopedia. World Book 2002 for Mac OS X is now available.
  • Blizzard Entertainment, which demonstrated Warcraft III running on OS X.
  • Aspyr, which demonstrated Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2.
  • Alias/Wavefront, which ended the parade of Mac developers with a demonstration of Maya. Richard Kerris, former director of Maya technologies, announced that the Wednesday keynote marked the official launch of the 3-D animation software for the Mac; Alias/Wavefront is now taking orders for May.
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