RealTime IT News

Apple in Eye of 'Tiger'

Apple Computer is preparing its developer forces for yet another run through the jungle with its next Mac OS X build, code-named Tiger.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based computer maker Tuesday said it will preview version 10.4x during its annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) next month, allowing the Mac faithful to begin the arduous process of fine tuning native applications for use on the desktop and the server room.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is expected show enterprise developers, system administrators and IT managers what core technologies are expected to show up in Tiger.

While Apple is keeping tight-lipped about what features will be included in Tiger, there are two certainties: this year's WWDC is very focused on building its base Enterprise IT and QuickTime developers.

Apple is hosting special tracks in each area. The company is also expected to show how Tiger fits into its core development platforms such as application technologies, development tools, graphics and media, hardware and its OS foundations (Darwin, Cocoa, Carbon).

Ron Okamoto, Apple's vice president of Worldwide Developer Relations, told internetnews.com that Tiger should be just as exciting as its predecessor, Mac OS X Panther.

"I think the best thing to do is look at the progress of the releases," Okamoto said. "Panther had 150 advancements and we have had a lot of momentum from rev to rev. We continue to take a look at the breakthrough technologies and decide on a case by case basis on what is best to include in the future."

If Tiger debuts this year it would be the fifth major version of Mac OS X to be delivered in as many years. Even Panther has reached its fourth minor update. The company released version 10.3.3 as part of a 38.7 megabyte download last Friday. By comparison, Microsoft is only now scheduling a semi-major update to its XP platform this year.

But with its successful track record of 10,000 applications specifically running on Panther, what could Apple do to top itself? Looking at the deficiencies of Panther, there does seem to be lack of support for a specific media center, although all of the new Macs have the base components that potentially make it the center of Jobs' "Digital Hub" vision. That strikes analysts like Enderle Group founder Rob Enderle as "weird" especially given their huge media push.

"Where they have needed work is disk management and rumor is that they will be making some significant improvements here," Enderle told internetnews.com. "Also they have this new relationship with HP. HP got the iPod. What will Apple get? I'm guessing something to do with printing and imaging."

Enderle pointed out that Apple has also been making a big deal about 64-bit processing support, but that they may need something that will better showcase that.

Other areas of development suggested in user groups include better compatibility with Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Microsoft Exchange, and HP OpenView; better support for Internet Telephony or VoIP ; and native tools that take advantage of Apple's wildly popular iPod player and iTunes platform.

As for future releases of Mac OS X, Apple still has a few options open before jumping into a completely different direction. The company filed for trademarks for the names Lynx, Cougar, and Leopard last July.