Jobs offers a peek at Mac OS X
by Matthew Rothenberg and John Batteiger, MacWEEK.com
SAN FRANCISCO (IDG) -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs -- no longer an "interim" executive -- used his keynote presentation at Macworld Expo here to offer a tantalizing glimpse at the forthcoming client version of Mac OS X, which will boast a revamped user interface and a built-in e-mail utility, among other new features.
Jobs also presented a new 12-month time line for Mac OS X development: The final beta will ship this spring, the client operating system will go on sale this summer, and Mac OS X will be pre-loaded on all systems by January 2001.
Besides touting such now-familiar Mac OS X components as Darwin, Cocoa and Quartz, Jobs unveiled Aqua, the new system's user interface. Aqua will make extensive use of color and transparency; for example, red, green and yellow buttons at the top left of each window will close, minimize or open the window.
Jobs hailed Aqua's enhanced navigation features, which he said represents a better implementation of the current Mac Finder. While the current Mac OS "generates a ton of windows, and you get to be the janitor," Jobs said, Mac OS X will offer more-convenient management of open windows.
For example, he demonstrated how Save dialog panels will remain associated with specific windows, no matter how those windows are moved or resized. While users can choose to interact with the OS "just like your old Finder," Jobs said, Aqua will enable users to employ a single window that includes browser-style pop-up lists and a Back button.
In addition to the traditional Icon and List views, a new Browser view will let users save the history of their navigation and return to any point in the sequence. A Preview mode will let them inspect the content of any document, including QuickTime movies. A Shortcuts feature will include buttons that let users select all their documents, applications or favorite places, for example.
Mac OS X's built-in e-mail utility will open and display enclosures automatically. A new font panel will let users preview all their fonts, assemble favorite collections of typefaces, or connect to the Internet to purchase fonts on demand.
Jobs showed off the capabilities of Quartz, Mac OS X's next-generation, PDF-based graphics layer, which features systemwide transparency capabilities. Apple VP Phil Schiller put in a brief appearance onstage, demonstrating Quake III running on Mac OS X to highlight the system's built-in support for OpenGL 3D graphics. That demonstration didn't work quite as hoped, however. The game locked up as it was initializing.
Mac OS X will include the Dock, an interface feature centered at the bottom of the screen that serves as a repository for current files and applications. The Dock can accommodate up to 128 items; windows resize automatically to fit the bottom of the viewing area, and a Magnification feature will let users check the contents. Similarly, users will be able to dramatically resize icons.
In a series of brief testimonials from third-party developers, Adobe Systems Inc.'s Bruce Chizen stated that his company is "committed to having all our key apps at least Carbonized by the time Mac OS X ships," and Microsoft Corp.'s Kevin Browne vowed to release Mac OS X versions of Internet Explorer and Outlook Express at the same time the new OS is released.
Macromedia Inc.'s Rob Burgess lauded the ease with which his company was able to port Flash to Mac OS X and promised to deliver all Macromedia's applications to Mac OS X. Quark Inc.'s Richard Jones and Palm Computing's Carl Yankowski also offered their companies' support, and Id Software's John Carmack, who Jobs said was on his honeymoon, provided a video testimonial.
In looking at "the big picture," Jobs dismissed arguments that Apple should change its focus from providing vertically integrated systems based on proprietary hardware and software. "There's no other company that can bring innovation to the marketplace like Apple can," he said.
Jobs said this hardware-software integration will now be extended to the Internet, thanks to the company's new Web-based initiatives. "We're the last guys left in this industry who can do it, and that's what we're about."
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