With Mac OS X 10.1 due next month, the update is, naturally, in the beta testing stage. Apple executives are probably thrilled and aggravated by the interest in those betas.
The trading of beta copies of Mac OS X version 10.1 is running “fast and furious on the Internet, with Mac enthusiasts willing to put up with five- or six-hour downloads — even over speedy broadband connections — to get the software,” according to a CNET
article. And chat rooms are “abuzz” about the release, the article adds.
“OS X users and developers all have the fever: It’s the best thing out there, and we want the newest and the best — for bragging rights and for knowing we’re out in front,” Jeffrey Barbose, a San Francisco software developer and longtime Mac owner, told CNET.
The enthusiasm for “Puma” — the code name for Mac OS X 10.1 — has opened a floodgate of leaked betas, CNET reported.
“I am surprised at the leaks,” Tim Deal, an analyst at Technology Business Research, told CNET. “If at this stage of the game, there are these kinds of leaks, imagine the impact on sales when (the software) is released.”
For better or worse, the pressure on Apple to deliver Mac OS X 10.1 on time and with the goods increases. However, CNET reporter Joe Wilcox wrote that if the betas are any indication, Apple may have licked some of Mac OS X’s biggest shortcomings, particularly slow performance using the file system and Aqua interface.
In the most recently released Mac OS X version, 10.0.4, the operating system can sometimes take five seconds or longer to execute file menu commands, even on the fastest Macs available. The 10.1 beta largely solves that problem, although not completely, Wilcox wrote. Overall handling and opening of programs and documents is also vastly improved, he added.
“Apple clearly has done that extra fine tuning to Mac OS X 10.1,” said Chris LeTocq, a Guernsey Research analyst, told CNET. “It’s the kind of thing you don’t do when you have short deadline for (initial) release the first time around. Then, your concern is stability.”
Of course, Apple hoped that the first major update to Mac OS X would generate high levels of interest. During his July keynote at Macworld New York, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that performance was much improved, the Aqua interface enhanced, there was more “digital hub” support, more printing support and beefed-up networking abilities.
Regarding performance, he said Mac OS X 10.1 provided faster menus, window resizing, application launch and faster login. He demoed all these things and they certainly appeared much faster.
An enhanced Aqua interface now provides a movable Dock and new system menus that places controls for such features as volume, display, battery life and AirPort on the menu bar. The Finder has also been improved and more personalization features are offered.
iTunes is now bundled in with Mac OS X, and CD burning is now supported in the Finder. The new update also offers DVD playback at last. Apple has also added built-in support for more digital cameras.
When it comes to printing, over 200 PostScript printers are now supported, Jobs said. Mac OS X 10.1 adds LaserWriter features and better plug-and-play for USB printers.
In the area of networking, Mac OS X now supports AFP servers over AppleTalk. The update also offers support for the new WebDAV standard; iDisk now runs atop WebDAV so it never disconnects, Jobs said. There’s also the ability to manager AirPort Base Stations from Mac OS X.
The update will be free but users must pay a US$20 shipping and handling charge for the CD.