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OS X 10.3 "Panther" To Offer Over 100 New Features [Updated]

OS X 10.3 "Panther" To Offer Over 100 New Features [Updated]

by , 4:30 PM EDT, June 23rd, 2003

When OS X 10.3 ships, it will widen the gap that "Jaguar" made between Apple and its competition, says Steve Jobs. The fourth major revision to Mac OS X will include over 100 features and improvements and is scheduled to ship before the end of this year. Some of the highlights include a brand new Finder, Exposé, a new way to instantly see all your open windows at the same time; and iChat AV, a "desktop video conferencing solution for the rest of us," as it was billed by Steve Jobs during the WWDC keynote today.

From the Apple Computer press release:

Panther features a completely new Finder that puts a user's favorite 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, colored labels for fully-customized organization of documents and projects and dynamic browsing of the network for Mac, Windows and UNIX file servers.

Panther also features Exposé, a revolutionary new way 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 even 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, Exposé is a major advance in user interface design that will change the way people work with multiple files, applications and projects.

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.

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, 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.

Additional new features in Panther include:

  • an enhanced Mail application that organizes e-mail into convenient threads with drag-and-drop addressing and a Safari-based engine for displaying HTML formatted e-mail;
  • 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 colorspace conversion, image sampling and compression for advanced PDF workflows.

Panther will be available for US$129 at the Apple Store, all Apple Store retail outlets and through Apple Authorized Resellers. Apple says the software will ship by the end of 2003.

The Mac Observer Spin:

Panther has some major new features, including some aimed specifically at the film industry, consumers, corporate users, and creative professionals. Where Jaguar really turned Mac OS X into a smooth and polished operating system that kicked some proverbial hind-quarters, Panther will take it to the next level. Maybe further than that.

That said, we are disappointed that Apple is making this yet another paid upgrade. Few are more cognizant than us of Apple's need to profit, but this will mark the third paid upgrade in as many years, and when it is released at the end of 2003, it will be little more than a year after the last paid upgrade. Even a discount to Jaguar owners would be welcome. Considering the fact that Mac OS X 10.0.x owners weren't given a discount for Jaguar, either, this is sort of an insult-to-injury situation, at least in our eyes. Had Jaguar been free, we wouldn't be wanting Panther to be free, but as it is, the company needs to offer some respect to its customers. Hopefully Apple will do just that before Panther is released.

Don't let our criticism of Apple's pricing policies take anything away from the fact that Panther looks great. We expect it to turn some heads, especially in the Windows world.

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