Apple Computer Inc. on Wednesday announced the release of
Mac OS X Panther and
Panther Server, the latest major updates to its Unix-based operating system. The releases come just four months after Steve Jobs demoed the new operating system during his keynote address at the companies Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. Both versions will be available on Friday, October 24, beginning at 8:00 p.m.
“We made a big bet a while back to go to a whole new architecture and we are reaping the benefits of that right now,” Brian Croll, Apple’s senior director software, told MacCentral. “We are able to turn out features at a level that is just staggering in the number and level of features.”
Highlights of the new operating system version include a revamped Finder interface that Apple describes as “user-centric.” The interface puts user’s favorite folders, hard drive, network servers, iDisk and removable media into a single location that Jobs likened to the playlist used by iTunes.
“The new Finder is so convenient — it puts all of the information that you need, right in front of you,” said Croll. “It approaches things a lot more like a user would, rather than how a computer approaches things.”
Other new features include faster search, colored labels and better integration with Windows network environments. Panther supports ActiveDirectory and SMB-based home directories on Windows servers and enhanced Windows integration that allows for printing to shared printers.
“This is the fourth major release of Mac OS X in a little over three years — on the Windows side, there is one release every six or so years,” said Croll. “This is a testament to a lot of the core decisions that were made early on with Mac OS X.”
Exposé is another new feature of Panther. It allows users to view all open windows and choose any one of them to be on top; Exposé also unshuffles overlapping windows into an organized view. In an interview with Apple when Panther was introduced in June, Exposé was clearly one of the breakthrough technologies.
“There are a lot of big deals in Panther: The Finder, iChat AV and Exposé are just a few,” Ken Bereskin, director of Mac OS Product Marketing, told MacCentral in a June interview. “Exposé could be the most innovative advance in the graphical interface since the Mac was created.”
FileVault secures home directory content with 128-bit AES encryption — a feature driven by mobile users’ need to secure their data in case their laptops are lost or stolen. Files are encrypted and decrypted on the fly, enabling users to keep content secure without interrupting access to their work. Other security enhancements include the addition of IPSec-based Virtual Private Networking (VPN) for Microsoft and Cisco-based networks. Panther also adds a Secure Delete function, giving users the ability to delete files without the worry of having another person retrieve them from the hard drive.
Mail has been revamped with a Safari-based engine for the display of HTML-formatted e-mail. Also new to Panther is iChat AV — a new version of the instant messaging technology that incorporates support for full-screen, full-motion video over broadband, along with audio support. iChat AV will be a US$29 release for Mac OS X 10.2 “Jaguar” users but will be included with Panther.
“When you look at the blockbuster, marquee features of Mac OS X, Panther is an even better release than Jaguar was when it came out,” said Croll.
Apple is now up to 8.5 million users that have migrated to Mac OS X, with 6,500 native, Mac OS X applications available, according to Croll. This includes announcements from some of Apple’s most important customers like Quark, Macromedia, Microsoft and most recently Adobe.
Panther Server integrates open source and open standards software with management tools that make it easy to deploy popular open source solutions for Mac, Windows and Linux clients. New features include a Server Admin tool that makes it easy for administrators to set up and manage the open source software built in to Mac OS X; Open Directory 2 for hosting scalable LDAP directory and Kerberos authentication services; Samba 3 for providing login and home directory support for Windows clients; and the JBoss application server for running J2EE applications.
In addition, Apple’s new Server Admin tool makes it easy for system administrators to set up, manage and monitor the complete set of services built into Panther Server. For example, with a couple of mouse clicks, customers can deploy OpenLDAP and Kerberos for directory and authentication, Samba for Windows support, Postfix for email and Apache for hosting web sites.
Other open standards-based network services in Panther Server designed for mixed-client environments include Open Directory 2, an LDAP directory and Kerberos authentication server based on OpenLDAP, Berkeley DB and MIT’s Kerberos KDC that delivers industrial-strength scalability and security. An all new mail server rebuilt from the ground up using the open source Postfix SMTP and Cyrus IMAP and POP servers provides an open architecture for integrating with spam and virus filtering solutions, and SSL for secure email. A new VPN server built into Panther Server supports Mac OS X, Windows or UNIX clients using PPTP and L2TP tunneling protocols. Panther Server also includes an updated release of Apache, along with Apache Tomcat and Apache Axis for creating powerful web services.
“We think we are the gold standard for operating systems at this point, said Croll. “We are leading the way with many new features and other companies are really scrambling to catch up with what we have done with Mac OS X.”
Pricing and Availability
Panther will be available at Apple’s retail stores and through Apple Authorized Resellers for US$129 for a single user license. Visitors to The Apple Store can pre-order copies of Panther beginning today. The Mac OS X Panther Family Pack is a single-residence, five-user license that will be available for $199; volume and maintenance pricing is available from Apple. The standard Mac OS Up-To-Date upgrade package is available to all customers who purchase a new Mac system on or after October 8; all customers who purchased a Power Mac G5 regardless of purchase date that do not have Panther included; and customers who purchase the Mac OS X version 10.2 “Jaguar” retail product on or after October 8 for a shipping and handling fee of $19.95.
Panther requires a minimum of 128MB of memory and is designed to run on the following Apple products with built-in USB support: iMac, iBook, eMac, PowerBook G3 and PowerBook G4, Power Macintosh G3, Power Mac G4, Power Mac G4 Cube.
Mac OS X Server version 10.3 “Panther” will be available beginning Friday, October 24 at Apple’s retail stores and through Apple Authorized Resellers for $499 for a 10-client edition and $999 for an unlimited-client edition. Visitors to The Apple Store can pre-order copies beginning today. Volume and maintenance pricing is available from Apple. The standard Mac OS Up-To-Date upgrade package is available to all customers who purchase a new Xserve on or after October 8 that did not have Panther Server included and to customers who purchase the Mac OS X Server version 10.2 “Jaguar” retail product on or after October 8 for a shipping and handling fee of $19.95.
Panther Server works with Apple’s Xserve rack-mount server hardware and is designed to run on Power Mac G5, G4 and G3 computers with a minimum of 128MB RAM, 4GB of available disk space and built-in USB.
Update: Added information from an interview with Apple executives.