As befits a conference devoted to developing applications, the lion's share of the focus was on the foundation for application development -- the operating system. OS X was the focus of Steve Jobs' keynote yesterday. The main points are: the beta will be out this summer, but the shrink-wrapped release will not debut until 2001, and Aqua has been toned down a little. While many of the distinctive visual elements are still in place, interface items like desktop storage, the finder and a modified dock provide more of a visual bridge between the previous version of Aqua and this one.
Despite the delay - the timing of which guarantees Apple won't be able to orchestrate consumers' excitement for the new operating system with their enthusiasm for holiday shopping -- MacCentral reports that enthusiasm for the new operating system is undiminshed among potential business partners like Earthlink and Metrowerks. Some even argue that the later release date will work in Apple's favor: a lengthy beta period will permit fruitful interaction between testers and Apple, and help refine the final product.
The delay works so long as users don't get any more disgruntled: to quote one of the attendees, "for the third year in a row, it's 'next year.'" The new OS X Web site Apple has set up should ease the pain.
If the Web site fails to appease developers, the sharply reduced price of WebObjects should; the price dropped from five figures to an affordable $699.
Apple's third big keynote announcement: QuickTime rolled out some improvements, including an improved interface, MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and Flash support, and cubic panoramas, which add complete vertical panning to the already-implemented horizontal panning.
Third-party developers had their own crowd-pleasing announcements. MindVision announced the dual-OS support IVISE 7.0 will have, thus permitting developers to build software installers that work on OS X's Carbon underpinnings or on the more typical OS 9 base.
Another software company has set its sights on the installer market: Aladdin began demoing and distributing StuffIt InstallerMaker 6.5.2. This version of the software uses the USB Software Locator in Mac OS 9; Aladdin has said that InstallerMaker 7.0, which will be available later this year, will let developers build software installers for OS X.
One final reason to read the WWDC coverage: Prosoft is giving away $20,000 worth of software to conference attendees. If you're into tools that let you tweak your disk drive subsystem (which controls driver performance for peripherals on FireWire, USB, ATA or SCSI buses), you may want to wend your way to San Jose.