Apple previews Mac OS X Leopard, Leopard Server

Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave Mac developers and the public its first look at Mac OS X v10.5, code-named “Leopard,” Monday at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, Apple’s annual gathering of registered developers. The sixth major version of Mac OS X since its inception, Leopard will ship in Spring, 2007, according to Jobs.

New features include Time Machine, a persistent backup system that keeps track of your files and backs them up automatically, also providing you with version control, or the ability to restore specific versions of documents that have changed. Spaces lets you collect groups of applications required for various tasks — e-mail and Web surfing, for example, or film and video tools — and switch between them instantly.

Leopard also incorporates changes to Apple’s Mail and iChat software. Mail gains Stationery, HTML-based templates, along with Notes and To Dos. To Dos have specifically been incorporated as a core Mac OS X service, which means they can be added to other applications, providing the basic Mac operating system with to do item scheduling capabilities.

iChat adds special effects using capabilities similar to Photo Booth, the software Apple includes with Macs that have built-in cameras. You can also place yourself in any photo or video as the backdrop for your chat, and do live presentations of iPhoto slideshows, Keynote presentations and videos in iChat.

At long last, Leopard adds full 64-bit support, even for applications that use a graphical user interface; previous versions of Mac OS X have been limited to command line-only support. While most of Apple’s new Intel Macs are based around 32-bit microprocessors, its new Mac Pros and Xserves are based on 64-bit Intel Xeon processors.

Boot Camp, Apple’s technology that lets Intel-based Macs reboot and run Windows, will be incorporated into Leopard with many improvements, though Jobs didn’t specify what they’d be.

iCal, Apple’s calendaring application, gains group calendaring options, an event drop box, and support for the CalDAV standard, which enables calendars to be accessed via WebDAV.

Spotlight, Mac OS X’s search technology, will be improved with Boolean searching and the ability to scan across network volumes and folders mounted on other users’ machines.

New parental controls add curfews, time limits and remote administration capabilities.

Core Animation is a new graphics technology that simplifies developers’ ability to create visual effects and animations, and Dashboard widget creation has been improved with Dashcode, a widget development environment. Users gain Web Clip, a Dashboard tool that lets them clip any parts of a Web page as a “live” widget.

Enhancements have also been made in Universal Access, Apple’s software that improves the experience for physically disabled users, including improvements in VoiceOver, Apple’s screen reading software, support for braille and more.

Mail and Safari also gain anti-fishing protection, and Leopard includes an automatic firewall that limits network resources available to an application.

Mac OS X Server v10.5 Leopard

A new version of Leopard Server is also being previewed. Scheduled to ship at the same time as the user version of Mac OS X v10.5, Leopard Server also includes 64-bit support.

Other new features include iCal Server, which makes it possible to share calendars, schedule meetings and plan events; a Wiki server that lets users collaborate and share information, Spotlight Server, which finds content on servers, and Podcast Producer, designed to help facilitate podcast production.

A new setup interface with built-in Network Health Check and a new Server Preferences administration interface keeps Leopard Server up and running. Apache 2, MySQL 5, Postfix, Cyrus, iChat Server and QuickTime Streaming Server have all been updated with 64-bit support.

iCal Server supports integration with leading calendar applications including Mozilla’s Sunbird, OSAF’s Chandler and Microsoft Outlook.

Other new features of Leopard Server include Mail Clustering when used with Xsan, Apple’s clustered file system; iChat Server 2, with support for GoogleTalk and other XMPP-based instant messaging system; QuickTime Streaming Server 6 with support for 3GPP Release 6 mobile phone technology; Adaptive Firewall technology and Xgrid 2.

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