Mac OS X will go on sale Saturday, March 24 for US$129 and will be preloaded on all new Macs starting in July, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said today during his keynote at Macworld San Francisco.
Jobs said that the public beta of Mac OS X was a “stunning success,” and that Apple had listened to the feedback, and addressed user concerns. There are new features and the return of some old favorites, he added.
Jobs said that approximately 100,000 copies of the public beta had been sold though Apple had expected “only” 10,000 sales. The company got 75,000 feedback submissions, “some of them quite long,” he said.
“We’ve read all of them and learned a lot from them,” Jobs said. “And we’ve listened to reader feedback.”
Jobs said that the positive feedback praised the OS as being far more stable and was easy to install. He added that, overall, reaction to the Aqua interface was incredible. Most users found that “Classic really works” and “Mac plus Unix is nirvana,” he added.
Beta testers also addressed concern over missing features, primarily support for AirPort, printing, Location Manager, dynamic network settings, and PPP over Ethernet. All have been added to the next generation operating system.
The Apple Menu is back and on the left hand side of the screen, as it is in OS 9. It has been overhauled, however.
“When people think of the Mac OS, they think of the Finder as the place where you go to do everything,” Jobs said. “Everything has been done through the Finder. But we see the Finder as just another app. There may be multiple Finders some day. Some new users may never need to use the Finder. So we’ve redesigned the Apple Menu with this in mind.”
You can now go to Apple Menu to accomplish tasks such as Sleep, Restart, and Shutdown that you now have to go to the Finder to handle. The Location Finder is back and accessible through the OS X Apple Menu. You can also log-out, force quit, and access preferences for the System and Dock from the menu.
Speaking of the Finder, Mac OS X now also lets you “spawn” windows in the method of the classic Finder if you like. “Most people loved the new Finder, but some missed the old Finder,” Jobs said. “Now you can litter the screen with lots of windows if you want.”
Popup menus are back, in a way. You can now click and hold down items on the Dock and get popup menus. Plus, you can drag and drop items from several folders deep in these product menus.
The controversial Font Panel has been redesigned. You can now shrink it down to a form that is small and has popup menus if you want to leave it open at all times. Jobs said that Apple had also licensed new “fun” fonts for inclusion in Mac OS X.
OS X’s toolbars are now smaller. And they’re customizable through a range of options. Want more? Okay, you can add a status bar if you prefer to show things like the number of items, available space on a disk, etc. And, of course, you can hide the toolbar if you prefer.
Apple has also added a new screen saver to OS X. It shows your Mac’s icons “floating” around the screen. Plus, you can add your own pictures, such as photos, and take advantage of the OpenGL in OS X to have them cross dissolve and fade into each other.
“This has never been done before in an operating system,” Jobs said.
The CEO also reiterated the architecture of Mac OS X. He said that QuickTime 5 was integrated into the operating system and full Java 2 was supported.
Jobs said that, of course, the key to OS X’s success is the number of applications available in Carbon or Cocoa. As of today, 400 developers are committed to bringing 1,200 “brand name” apps to Mac OS X, he said. Some, including the high end Maya from Alias|Wavefront, will arrive this spring. However, the bulk will arrive this summer, with some “stragglers” joining the party in the fall, Jobs added.
“Macworld New York will be the ‘coming out party’ for lots of OS X apps,” he said.
From now until March, Apple will be working to make sure that the next generation operating system is “absolutely solid,” Jobs said.
“We’re feeling very, very good about it.”