You’ve waited seven years for this event. Now it’s arrived: Apple is rolling out what is, for all practical purposes, an all-new operating system — its first complete OS revamp since 1984. Mac OS X is now on sale in stores around the world for US$129.
“Mac OS X is the most important software from Apple since the original Macintosh operating system in 1984 that revolutionized the entire industry,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “We can’t wait for Mac users around the globe to experience its stability, power and elegance.”
Mac OS X is built upon a UNIX-based foundation called Darwin (see our
Mac OS X Primer
) and features true memory protection, preemptive multi-tasking and symmetric multiprocessing when running on the dual processor Power Mac G4. The operating system includes Apple’s Quartz 2D graphics engine (based on the Internet-standard Portable Document Format) for eye-popping graphics and broad font support; OpenGL for 3D graphics and gaming; and QuickTime 5 for streaming audio and video. Mac OS X also features an entirely new user interface called Aqua. In addition, the operating system includes such new features as:
Dynamic memory management, eliminating “out of memory” messages or need to adjust the memory for applications;
Advanced power management, so that PowerBook and iBook systems wake from sleep instantly;
QuickTime 5, shipping for the first time as an integrated feature of Mac OS X;
Automatic networking, allowing users to get on the Internet using any available network connection, without adjusting settings;
A single interface to manage all network and Internet connections, including direct support for DSL systems that require PPPoE connectivity;
Full PDF support and PDF integration into the operating system, so that OS X applications can generate standard PDF documents to be shared with any platform;
Direct support for TrueType, Type 1 and OpenType fonts, and an intuitive and flexible interface for managing fonts and groups of fonts;
More than $1,000 fonts, including Baskerville, Herman Zapf’s Zapfino, Futura, and Optima; as well as high quality Japanese fonts;
iTools integration into Mac OS X, for direct access to iDisk free Internet storage in the Finder and Open/Save dialog boxes, and free IMAP mail for Mac.com e-mail accounts;
Built in support for popular HP, Canon, and Epson printers;
A multi-user environment, with access privileges to keep documents secure;
Web development tools and technologies such as WebDAV, XML, and Apache;
BSD UNIX services including popular shells, Perl and FTP;
Support for symmetric multi-processing;
File system and network security including support for Kerberos;
Support for Java 2 Standard Edition built directly into Mac OS X, giving customers access to cross platform applications
However, we’d be remiss if we didn’t also point out the features that Mac OS X is still missing, such as DVD playback and the ability to record CDs. However, those features are on the way, according to Jobs. The ability to burn CDs will come in an April update. DVD playback is due later in the spring. It also lacks support for the new GeForce graphics accelerators for Macs. And X versions of iDVD, DVD Studio Pro, and Final Cut Pro 2 are also still in the works.
Apple says that over 350 applications for Mac OS X are shipping today with “hundreds more” coming this summer, and that over 10,000 developer organizations around the world are working on over 20,000 Mac OS X applications.
Speaking of applications, Apple has also made available X versions of iMovie 2, iTunes, and a preview of AppleWorks 6.1 from its Web site.
Apple, obviously, has high hopes for Mac OS X. Jobs said the company planned for it to be around as long as the traditional Mac OS it’s replacing.
“Will Mac OS X help us gain market share in the future? I wouldn’t be surprised,” Jobs told the Associated Press.