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 OpenOffice.org and Yellow
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
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
“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.