One of the best-received upgrades announced by Apple during Steve Jobs' Macworld Expo New York 2001 keynote was "the first major upgrade" to Apple's next-generation operating system, Mac OS X.
Mac OS X 10.1, which will be a free upgrade download in September, features better performance, more customizable Aqua user-interface elements, increased compatibility with other devices, and improved printing and networking.
"We’ve fixed a lot of bugs, and added a lot of great new features, like burning CDs right from the Finder and the ability to seamlessly network with Windows clients and servers," said Jobs.
"Performance, Performance, Performance!" shouted Jobs as he acknowledged one of the most commonly stated complaints about OS X. He then demonstrated – to rapturous applause - that version 10.1 of X is much faster in the Finder, for example in window resizing, login and application launching.
3D graphics performance has also been enhanced, with updated OpenGL software and full support for Nvidia's GeForce3
Enhancements to Aqua, include a moveable Dock - which can now be placed at the bottom as normal, or at either the left-hand or right-hand edge of the screen.
A new "Scale" effect – which may well displace the fabled "Genie" effect as the default visual for minimizing applications and documents - is faster at sending to or opening from the Dock. Columns can now be resized in column views. Under 10.1, X users can now populate the top menu bar with system status icons: AirPort, Sound, and screen resolution, etc.
Digital Hub improvements includes bundling iTunes directly into OS X, DVD Playback, and Disc Burner for OS X.
Printing now supports over 200 printers. And networking improvements include AFP Servers over AppleTalk, Built-in SMB Client, and the ability to manage AirPort Base Stations. A more powerful and efficient iDisk leverages the Internet-standard WebDAV protocol to allow users to stay connected to their iDisk, even behind corporate firewalls
Plug a digital camera into a Mac OS X Mac, and the system automatically downloads images. Jobs showed that X's Screen Saver can automatically point to a folder containing digital pictures and use them to create a slideshow.
Apple claims to have made "substantial improvements" to AppleScript throughout the system, with full support for Internet scripting using SOAP and XML
1,000 X apps Jobs pointed-out that it has been 116 days since official release of the Unix-based Mac OS X, and there are already over 1,000 native Mac OS X applications shipping. He announced that a survey of worldwide developers at May's Worldwide Developers Conference showed that 29 per cent planned to release a Mac OS X product within three months (from May), and 55 per cent within six months.
The Apple CEO then rolled-out ten big-gun software developers to demonstrate their already released or forthcoming OS X applications – calling this 40-minute segment of the keynote, "10 on X".
First up was Kevin Browne, general manager of Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit. Browne showed-off a Carbonized Office 10 for Mac OS X which is due to ship this autumn as a £149 upgrade to Office 2001. Browne showed the new-look Aqua interface elements of the new Office version, as well as pointing out the many benefits of OS X – such as the Quartz 2D drawing layer that enables Word and Excel, for example, to feature incredible transparency effects and superb anti-aliasing. Browne will demonstrate the entire Office 10 application at his own keynote, Thursday morning (New York time; UK afternoon).
Although not exhibiting at Macworld Expo New York itself, Adobe was represented at the Jobs keynote by its vice president of worldwide products and marketing, Shantanu Narayen. Narayen talked about Adobe's Network Publishing strategy of "access to information anytime, any place, and on any device". Adobe then demoed X-native versions of Illustrator (which launched twice as fast as under OS 9, according to the company), GoLive and InDesign. New transparency and dropshadow effects were also demonstrated.
Quark's senior product manager Brett Mueller showed a pre-beta version of QuarkXPress 5.x, working with layers and creating Web pages directly via XML. For more details, read Macworld's full story on XPress 5.0 that was posted yesterday.
FileMaker's president Dominique Goupil promised that 100 per cent of his company's products would be OS X native "by this autumn". He claimed that 50,000 copies of the X-ready FileMaker Pro 5.5 had already been sold.
Kurt Schucker, vide president of product management at Connectix, demonstrated Virtual PC on Mac OS X, using a version of AutoCAD on Windows 98 on an OS X Mac. He then announced that a technical preview (called VPC Test Drive) is now available as free download for all registered users of VPC 4.0.
IBM's Voice and Pen division manager Toby Maners showed-off ViaVoice for Mac OS X. A colleague dictated an email message into OS X's Mail program, and manipulated a QuickTime attachment using voice commands only. Jobs called it "truly remarkable". The product will be available "later this year".
Michael Ross, publisher of World Book, demonstrated an OS X version of the "knowledge explorer" reference software aimed at schools and home, which Jobs popped-up to call "incredible".
Jobs then moved on to one of his favourite keynote topics, games. He introduced the co-founder of Blizzard, Frank Pearce, who showed-off Warcraft III – which he claimed would have a simultaneous release on Windows and Mac OS X. "Mac gaming has never been as interesting as it is today," he told the audience.
Also on the games front, Aspyr's president Mike Rogers made the crowd watch one of his colleagues playing Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2 on OS X. He claimed that his company was "inspired to bring out the best games to the best computing platform on the planet".
Last up was Richard Kerris, former director of Maya Technologies at Alias|Wavefront. "Apple is making Mac OS X the best platform for professional 3D," Kerris said. A Maya movie was then shown, with a look at how it was created using the advanced dynamic system of Maya for Mac OS X. Alias is taking orders for this landmark product at its Expo booth.