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September OS X deadline falls under hail of gunfire

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Carrot-munching ascetic Steve Jobs refused to throw any red meat to developers in his keynote to Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference in San Jose.

Mac OS X will be "available for installation" in January, said Jobs, a slippage of three or six months depending on which prediction you want to make your starting point. A public beta will be released in the summer.

The bad news wasn't sweetened by any new products - no wireless or PDA announcements, or even speed bumps to existing Macs. Nothing then, to distract developers from Carbonising those apps.

An optimistic few had been expecting shrink wrap in September but given the state of the DP3, a January roll-out at the San Francisco MacWorld Expo shouldn't be too surprising.

The successful, stealth-marketed WebObjects development environment gets a price shake-up. Instead of a site wide license costing $50,000 said Jobs, WebObjects will be available at $699 per server. An all-Java version of Web Objects is promised for the end of the year, in addition to existing versions for Solaris, HP-UX, Windows 2000 and Mac OS X, of course.

Jobs promised that Apple is gearing up for an autumn marketing blitz and a "launch" in "this year", albeit without the shrink wrapped boxes. He also claimed there were 50,000 developers working on Darwin - the open source kernel that underpins Mac OS X - and that "a lot is getting integrated very quickly" into the main code tree.

And through gritted teeth, Jobs also trailed some user interface changes in Aqua, the Mac OS X GUI.

As predicted, the dock has been split into applications icons on the left and document icons on the right. Font sizing and spacing has been reduced to fit Platinum OS 8 metrics, so dialog boxes needn't to be re-drawn. Jobs said DP4 has a "More Mac like Finder", but how well these details were received could be gauged by the audience reaction.

The gigantic Finder toolbar can now be hidden (applause), it's now possible to drag disks onto Desktop (applause), and the UI shows the application name as the left-most menu (deafening silence).

Indifference also greeted Jobs announcement of a back button, to navigate to previous folders, and also his demonstration of moving an Internet Explorer shortcut to the dock, a trick he seemed so pleased with that he repeated twice. Perhaps the audience has been using Windows more recently than Steve. ®

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