For Avie Tevanian, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering,
it’s a light at the end of the tunnel. For CEO Steve Jobs, it’s “clearly the
most important thing we’re doing at Apple.” It’s Mac OS X, the long-awaited
upgrade to Apple’s operating system. And this summer, it may finally be
ready for prime time.
That’s when Apple plans to release a beta of OS X to the public. Developers
also have in hand OS X’s fourth preview version, which contains several
changes from the operating system Apple has previously shown in public.
“We’re creating a new OS and a new generation of applications,” Jobs told
developers at Apple’s annual conference in May.
Ready, Set, Wait
Apple calls the latest preview version “developer complete,” meaning
software makers now have what they need to create applications that use OS
X’s Carbon and Cocoa APIs. But lost in the excitement over that news is the
fact that OS X’s launch has been delayed again.
Jobs announced in January that a finished version would be ready in summer
2000 and that the operating system would be installed on all Macs come
January 2001. Now Apple doesn’t expect the final version of OS X to be ready
before the end of 2000.
Aqua for the Rest of Us
Still, the new developer preview is significant for the changes Apple has
made to the Aqua interface. Previous versions of Aqua marked a radical
departure from the Mac OS. But the latest edition contains several features
that should be familiar to Mac users.
Developer Preview 4 includes a more Mac-like Finder instead of the NeXT-like
browser that appeared in earlier versions. Users can also hide the browser
toolbar and drag files onto the desktop. Mac OS 9 controls return to OS X,
and the menu bar now displays the name of the application that the active
window belongs to.
The Dock–the area on the bottom of the screen that gives you a quick way to
access applications, files, and windows–has undergone some tweaks as well.
Applications are now stored on the left side of the Dock, files and windows
go on the right. You can drag items out of the Dock to remove them, and you
can now store Web site URLs there.
OS X also boasts tighter integration between Open GL and Quartz. For
example, you can use Quartz to create a 2-D image that can link with a 3-D
Open GL image in a separate window. Modify the 2-D image and it instantly
updates the 3-D window.