During his San Francisco-based Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, Apple CEO Steve Jobs previewed Mac OS X version 10.3 "Panther". The next major version of Mac OS X that will ship "by the end of this year". The fourth major release of Mac OS X in four years, Panther has "more than 100 breakthrough new features" including a completely new Finder; Exposé, a "revolutionary" new way to instantly see all your open windows at once; and iChat AV, a complete desktop video conferencing solution for business, education and consumers.

"With Jaguar, we moved ahead of the competition. With Panther, we're widening the gap," said Jobs. "With over 100 new features, including some real blockbusters, Apple is again the industry innovator in operating systems."

Panther features a completely new Finder that puts a user's favourite folders, hard drive, network servers, iDisk and removable media in one convenient location, providing one-click access to "everything a user needs". The redesigned Finder also features lightning-fast search, coloured labels for fully customized organization of documents and projects and dynamic browsing of the network for Mac, Windows and Unix file servers.

Exposé Panther features Exposé, to instantly view all open windows and choose any of them to be on top. Exposé visually unshuffles overlapping windows on the desktop into an organized view so a user can quickly find and select the window they want. Exposé will temporarily clear the desktop of all windows, so users can get to any file on the desktop previously hidden by the open windows. Powered by the Mac OS X Quartz graphic engine, Apple believes Exposé is "a major advance in user interface design that will change the way people work with multiple files, applications and projects".

iChat AV Building on the success of iChat, Panther extends instant messaging to the next level with iChat AV. With full-screen, full-motion video over broadband, crystal-clear audio over 56K modem and a familiar easy-to-use interface, iChat AV makes natural conversations over the Internet "immediate and effortless".

FireVault In addition, Panther includes FileVault, a new feature that secures the contents of a home directory with strong 128-bit AES encryption. With FileVault, users can select to have their whole home directory encrypted automatically so it encrypts and decrypts files on the fly, without interrupting their work. For mobile users, according to Apple, FileVault provides a new level of security on the road so if anyone ever tries to access a user's account or if their notebook is lost, important data is always protected by high-security encryption.

Panther also includes new features that make it even easier for Macs to co-exist in Windows networks including an IPSec-based VPN for Microsoft and Cisco networks, support for ActiveDirectory and SMB-based home directories on Windows servers and enhanced Windows integration within the Finder that enables printing to shared printers.

Panther adds system-wide advancements to Unix-based technologies including X11 for Mac OS X, "major performance improvements" to NFS, a ports manager for accessing open-source projects, expanded Kerberos support, an integrated IPv6 networking stack and the ability to access Quartz graphics from Python programs.

Additional new features in Panther include:

An enhanced Mail application that organizes email into convenient threads with drag-&-drop addressing and a Safari-based engine for displaying HTML-formatted email;

Fast User Switching, allowing users to share a single Mac and quickly switch between accounts without having to quit running applications and completely logout of the system;

Pixlet, the first studio-grade codec for filmmakers that was developed in conjunction with Pixar to deliver breathtaking HD-quality video on the Mac that is free from visual artifacts;

A fully integrated iDisk that increases productivity by automatically syncing a user's offline work to their .Mac Internet server storage once they're online again, so users can work locally on files with hard drive speeds and have them synced automatically back to their iDisk later;

Integrated faxing synched with the Address Book so sending and receiving faxes is as easy as printing, and includes support for adding cover pages;

Font Book, a new application that provides system-level font management with double-click font preview, one-click installation and an intuitive iTunes-like interface for managing font collections, and searching, activating and deactivating fonts;

and a significantly improved Preview application that is the world's fastest PDF reader with super-fast text searching that builds an instant index of search results in a PDF, text selection and copying, URL support and support for the PDF 1.4 format. Preview leverages powerful improvements to Quartz filtering technology such as colour-space conversion, image sampling and compression for advanced PDF workflows.