Apple’s Tiger set to roar


26 Apr 2005

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LONDON: The long-awaited next-generation version of the popular Macintosh operating system OS X 10.4 (pictured) — code-named Tiger — will be available worldwide from this Friday.

The OS will come with many new exciting features including high-definition video, videoconferencing, work-flow tools and desktop search capability.

At locations around the world, the OS will be available to Macintosh users from 6pm local time on Friday.

“This is the biggest release of OS X to date and is a huge step forward for us,” says Brian Croll, Apple’s senior director of software and applications worldwide. “Mac OS X is the most innovative and secure desktop OS currently available. We have taken the lead in this area and we are very comfortable in that position.”

Tiger is the fifth release of Mac OS X and the fourth major revision in as many years. This version sports 200 new features, many of which are under the hood. For instance, Apple continues to push forward on interoperability with Windows systems. Tiger will offer NTLM (NT Local Area Network Manager) Version 2 authentication for the first time, allowing easier access to NT-base networks. In addition, users will be able to access virtual private networks (VPN) on demand including internet protocol security and point-to-point tunnelling protocol.

Support for 64-bit computing is also expanded, allowing the OS to make greater use of the 64-bit capabilities of the G5 processor included in the company’s latest systems.

But for most users, the benefits of the new OS will be clear to see. These include Spotlight, a Find function that is integrated with the OS making it extremely fast. Spotlight searches through metadata and content indexing allowing it to look not only for file names but for content, keywords, colour space (in the case of images) and much more. It is also possible to create Smart Folders that have Spotlight searches attached to them for frequently used searches such as files modified today.

Automator enables users to automate repetitive tasks and create work flows using a drag-and-drop interface. Automator, a successor to Applescript, says Croll, will be able to work with Perl, Python and other scripting languages. Users can save their work flows and share them with other users.

One of the features of the early Macintosh OS was desktop applications accessible from the Apple menu. These mini-applications died out after Apple introduced System 7. However, Tiger resurrects something similar with Dashboard. Dashboard is a new application that gives instant access to applications called Widgets. Apple is shipping 19 of sample widgets, including a Worldclock, weather summary, flight information with Tiger but is encouraging users to write their own using HTML, CSS and Javascript.

One of the biggest advances is Quicktime 7 that now supports high-definition video and the next-generation MPEG codec H264. This codec, according to Croll, is the basis for the next generation of DVDs including high-definition DVD and Blu-Ray. H264 is also built into the latest version of iChat AV, Apple instant messaging application. With iChat AV it is now possible to conduct 10-way audio conferences and four-way videoconferences. iChat has always been able to interact with AOL’s Instant Messanger and the new version also supports Jabber.

Tiger will cost €129 for a single copy or €199 for a family pack of five licences (single residence, home use only). New Macintosh systems ordered after April 29 will have the new OS pre-installed. An upgrade is available to users who purchased a Macintosh system after April 12 for a shipping and handling fee of €17.99.

Mac OS X can be ordered through the Apple Store (www.apple.com/iestore). However, those who don’t want to wait can buy it Friday evening from selected retail outlets in Dublin, Cork and Limerick.

These are: O2 Experience, Grafton Street; O2 Experience, Dundrum Shopping Centre; 3G Dundrum Shopping Centre; 3G Henry Street; 3G Blanchardstown;O2 Experience Patrick Street, Cork; and CompuB, Henry Street, Limerick.

“We have been training employees in those selected stores in the features of the new OS,” said Liam Donohoe, country manager for Apple in Ireland, who added that the new system will hit the rest of the country by Monday.

By David Stewart