To the joyous shouts of adulation from Mac enthusiasts everywhere, Apple has shipped its long-awaited next-gen platform – OS X (pronounced OS Ten – as Apple doesn’t only want you to think different, it wants you to speak different as well).
The UNIX-based operating system offers a whole host of powerful features to make it run faster than version 9 of the OS. It offers true memory protection, pre-emptive multi-tasking and true multi-processing when running on a dual processor machine. On the multimedia side it includes the Quartz 2D graphics engine (based on PDF technology), OpenGL for 3D graphics and – making its first appearance – QuickTime 5 for audio and video.
OS X also includes a new front end – Aqua – which does to the GUI what the iMac did to the outside of the box. Other features include advanced power management (so PowerBooks wake instantly from sleep mode), automatic networking, a single interface for all Internet and network connections, and PDF integration into the OS (so any application can print to PDF as standard). There’s also direct support for TrueType, PostScript Type 1 and OpenType fonts – and a better font management system. The OS ships with over $1,000 worth of fonts.
Other technologies supported under OS X include WebDAV, XML, Apache and Java 2. User can also access the UNIX command line if they wish and run other shells.
However the OS is not quite complete yet, which has lead to the release being nicknamed ‘Public Beta 2’. Missing from the shipping copies is DVD playback (fixed later this spring) and the ability to burn CDs (fixed in April). The new NVidia GeForce graphics cards are not yet supported – but most of all there’s very few tools that currently run on the OS. Apple did make OS X versions of iMovie2, iTunes and a preview of AppleWorks 6.1 available for download from its Web site.