Mac's Tiger 'Long Before Longhorn'

Apple ready to spring Mac OS X v4.0 before this summer -- with a host of Microsoft spoilers.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Steve Jobs says he's keeping one step ahead of Microsoft with the upcoming release of the company's new OS.

The CEO of Apple Computer said his company will distribute the next generation of Mac OS X version 4.0, code-named Tiger, in the first half of 2005.

The upgrade from the current version known as Mac OS X Panther is expected to compete primarily with Microsoft's next-generation Windows OS, codenamed Longhorn, as well as with alternative desktops like those offered by and Yellow Dog Linux.

Jobs said developers are busy putting the finishing touches on Tiger, which adds more than 200 new features, such as support for 64-bit applications and memory addressing, as well as enhancements to audio, video, productivity and syndication technologies like RSS .

"This is coming out long before Longhorn," Jobs said pointedly during his keynote at the annual Macworld conference here. Microsoft has been criticized for delaying its follow-up to Windows XP, which is now due out in the second half of 2006.

One feature Jobs took particular gratification in highlighting was Apple's new desktop search tool called Spotlight. Microsoft, Google and now Yahoo have similar functions, which let users instantly search through multiple types of files on their hard drives.

Jobs boasted that Spotlight would have better meta data integration with a wider range of formats including PDF, RTF , JPEG and MP3.

"The other tools are nowhere near as good, because they are not built into the OS," Jobs said. "Spotlight also instantly updates for changes and can be built right into apps. This is especially important to third-party developers."

Jobs updated the Macworld crowd on Tiger's progress with news that it would include the next generation of QuickTime. Version 7.0 will be based on the new H.264 codec and perform the same whether on a cell phone or on a huge display. Apple will support High Definition (HD) video editing in the Tiger release. Jobs commented that 2005 would be the year for HD on many levels. To emphasize the point, Sony president Kunitake Ando joined Jobs on stage and pledged support for the HD standards.

"You just keep making all that great software... for the Mac platform," Ando, whose company regularly competes with Apple in the hardware and music space, said jokingly.

Other additions to Apple's Tiger include:

  • LP64 support in GNU C Compiler (a high-quality C compiler released under the GPL), as well as fine grain locking Symmetric Multi-Processing, access to control lists and Apple's Xgrid application built in.
  • Improvements to Apple iChat AV platform that would allow video conferencing between four people and audio conferencing for up to 10 people with a new GUI.
  • The development of "Dashboard," an application that is being touted as "Expose for Widgets" where individual mini-applications or portlet containers could be accessed and hidden using a function key.
  • Better synchronization with Apple's hosted .Mac service that could potentially include non-Macintosh devices.
  • A visual scripting platform called Automator with more than 100 actions built in that lets novice users build their own scripts and link workflows without having to take a course in Apple Script.
  • Addition of Core Image and Core Video to Apple's Core Audio technology, which includes real-time hardware-accelerated and pixel-accurate filters, effects and transitions.

Tiger's Server version has been updated with tools that make migrating from Windows-based servers easier. With the new OS, Apple said administrators can now migrate the user and group account information from an existing Windows Primary Domain Controller (PDC) automatically into an Open Directory. Apple has said Tiger Server could then take over as the PDC for Windows clients and even host Windows users' home directories, group folders, roaming profiles and shared printers.

Despite the rosy tone at Macworld, Apple has been on the defensive behind the scenes with Tiger. Last month, selected lines of code of the operating system were prematurely circulated publicly. Apple sued three members of its own Apple Developer Connection (ADC) for downloading and distributing the latest builds and then distributing them through peer-to-peer network BitTorrent.

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