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Apple's Jaguar Ready To Pounce

SAN JOSE -- With its usual flair, Apple Computer Monday previewed its next significant operating system release.

As a jet-black casket raised and pipe organ music boomed from the smoke-filled stage, Apple CEO Steve Jobs pulled out a eulogy.

"We are here today to mark the passing of Mac OS 9," said Jobs in front of thousands of developers at Apple's World Wide Developer's Conference. "Mac OS 9 is not dead for our customers but it is dead for you. OS 9 is survived by OS X and thousands of applications - most legitimate."

The Cupertino, Calif.-based computer maker has been working quickly to upgrade its operating platform. Since the release of Mac OS X last March, Apple has ramped up its application base to some 3,000 separate applications including ones from Microsoft office and Adobe Systems Photoshop.

But now the Mac-maker is prepping for its next major release: Jaguar.

Due out late this summer, the operating system based on OS X with some major improvements is not even in its Alpha stage. Developers pledged confidentiality at the show.

For the Unix crowd, there is support for FreeBSD v4.4, GCC 3, Ipv6 and IPSec, CUPS (a new printing tech), Open Directory (LDAP) and Kerberos.

The platform is also expected to include things that will even make Windows enthusiasts smile. Jaguar will have the ability to host SMB browsing and sharing, Virtual Private Networking (PPTP) capabilities, Active Directory support and better support for Microsoft Exchange.

And what would an Apple event be without news about its support for graphics and audio?

This time around, Jaguar will include QuickTime 6 and support for MPEG-4, the latest media format which Apple helped develop. The platform will have Dolby Studios invented AAC audio, Instant-on Streaming and a new QuickTime Broadcaster.

Then there is the Quartz Extreme a 2D 3D and Video Open GL graphic accelerator based on PDF and anti-aliasing technology.

Inkwell, a new handwriting technology will be included in Jaguar. The application lets you use a tablet or pad to insert text right into Photoshop or even a Unix prompt screen.

"Looks like that Newton technology is finally paying off," quipped Jobs.

Jobs also showed off Rendezvous, a sharing technology that Apple is proposing as an industry wireless standard. The peer-to-peer technology built on its Airport networking platform allows you to automatically share music, files and photos with other Mac users in your area.

For instant messaging fans, there is iChat, made with AOL's "blessing".

Due out May 14, Apple said it will launch its first dedicated rack mount server. Details are slim right now but Jobs said it would include "Headless operation," NetIntall, NetBoot, OpenDirector, Server-optimized for Java VM, disk, print and mail compatibilities, Python, fast CGI, TCL and Ruby.

Previously, Mac-heads could only use the fastest Mac for servers or were forced to use other vendors.