Attendees at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference this week voiced both optimism and scepticism on the prospects of Mac OS X, but said they wouldn't be negatively affected by the latest slip in the operating system's schedule.

Mac OS X is now due to ship in January.

Rather than the Mac OS X beta version that many attendees were expecting at the show, Apple distributed what it described as a "developer-complete" fourth developer release (DR 4).

Happy Developers took the news in their stride. "What had been previously announced in January was maybe a bit optimistic," commented Paul Lalonde, programmer at Zero-Knowledge Systems in Montreal. Some said the delay would help them get their applications ported in time for the operating system's launch, as well as provide beneficial input from end users.

The long public beta phase that Apple has introduced "means more time to get feedback into the operating system", said Tim Voss, a senior software developer at IBM subsidiary Object Technology International.

Annoyed Chris LeTocq, an analyst at Gartner Group in San Jose, criticized Apple for not being forthcoming with information about Mac OS X. "How are they going to describe Mac OS X to consumers? What machines will it be on, and will it be a dual install? We should have heard that by now," said LeTocq. "It's time Apple said a little more."

Some developers agreed. "It's been like pulling teeth to get information from Apple," said Jeffrey Bernstein, president of Digital Desktop Consulting in Los Angeles.