Pick up a copy of OS X when it ships this weekend, and you'll find something extra in the box. Apple plans to include the latest version of its QuickTime multimedia software with OS X.
Apple Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller first indicated that a final version of QuickTime 5 would ship with the new operating system during a March 9 interview with CNET. Apple has since confirmed that OS X will include the Carbonized QuickTime update.
If you're not planning to buy OS X, but still want to get the QuickTime upgrade, you'll have to wait. Apple hasn't announced when QuickTime 5 will be available for download.
Whether you get your hands on QuickTime this weekend or later on, you'll find a host of new features in version 5. Apple has enhanced QuickTime's ability to play MPEG-1 video, adding RTP/RTSP streaming capability. QuickTime 4 only played local MPEG-1 files -- now you can watch high-quality video without having to download an entire file.
QuickTime 5 also has an improved DV codec, meaning iMovie and Final Cut Pro users will see more accurate video images when they edit -- a useful feature whether you're working on a home movie of a backyard family reunion or a professional production.
Speaking of Apple's high-end digital video-editing application, the upcoming Final Cut Pro 2 release won't work with an earlier version of QuickTime. What's more, QuickTime 5 also allows Final Cut users to take advantage of real-time effects rendering provided by the $999 Matrox RTMac board. Abode Premiere 6 offers the same benefit from that kind of card and QuickTime 5.
Also new to QuickTime is cubic VR. It lets you navigate completely in a spherical VR environment, as opposed to the more constrained cylindrical view of previous QuickTime versions.
Other QuickTime changes include an improved interface with a volume slider instead of a wheel, a replacement for the Channel Drawer, support for Sorenson Video 3, and a Component Downloader feature that makes it easier to get third-party plug-ins for viewing various kinds of content.