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The Night Before X-Ness

The first, and biggest, story at the Worldwide Developers' Conference (WWDC) this week was the forthcoming OS X. Walk through a weeks' worth of coverage with Macworld.

Before the conference, MacWEEK's Raven Zachary made some predictions about WWDC and what developers could expect on the OS X front. His column also provided several helpful hyperlinks to previous WWDC coverage; the links alone are worth checking out if you want to trace the evolution of OS X.

The kick-off event for the conference was Monday's keynote presentation. Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the improvements to Developers' Preview 4 (DP4): implementation of platinum size controls, a more Mac-like Finder, a smaller and more refined dock, a new QuickTime player and better Quartz integration. Quartz, for the codename-impaired, is the new imaging system based on Adobe's Portable Document Format.

DP4 eased a lot of developer complaints about OS X, namely that it was too radical a departure from the current OS. As MacWEEK reporter David Read's article noted, OS X looks like a Mac. To see the new and improved OS X, check out the WWDC photo gallery.

That was the good news: the bad news was that the final, shipping version of OS X would be delayed until January 2001. Reactions among columnists were fairly uniform: MacCentral's Dennis Sellers wrote that so long as the delay guaranteed a more solid final product, it would be justified. MacWEEK's Tony Smith contends that a lengthy beta period will help work out any system knots before the final product is installed on new machines or purchased by well-meaning users. Stephan Somogyi wrote for Macworld that the delay " didn't surprise anyone who had been paying attention." And our own Jason Snell noted that Apple's biggest surprise was modifying Aqua (the user interface, for the jargon-impaired) in response to unfavorable feedback.

Apparently, Apple's business partners were also unfazed by the OS X delay. The only people who appeared less-than-sanguine about the delay were the developers attending the conference. While some took the delay in stride, others fretted that "Mac OS X will ship with about 85 percent of what you have now in OS 9." Perhaps the new OS X section on Apple's Web site will help.

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