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Apple confirms MacOS X updates coming soon

iTunes, iMovie 2 ready for downloading Saturday

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Updated Expect MacOS X updates throughout the Spring and Summer, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said yesterday, as the company adds all those features user expect to get out of the box but won't.

The first fully operational version of the new Macintosh operating system goes on sale on Saturday - though we note that a number of stores in the US, including Staples, already have it on their shelves (they've pulled them now, but just ask nicely at the counter...) We say 'fully operational', but while the OS works, it lacks some non-essential features.

As has been widely reported in the Mac media, MacOS X will not ship with DVD playback or the ability to record data on DVD or CD. It won't support Nvidia's GeForce 3 card either.

Instead, these items will be rolled out over the coming months as updates, which sounds just dandy to us. What matters is getting MacOS X out onto store shelves and - at long, long last - sticking to its deadline to do so.

Do these omissions matter? Not really, no. The missing features will be a barrier to some users, but by no means the vast majority of MacOS X adopters. The fact is, until MacOS X versions of popular third-party apps start coming through, only the most enthusiastic of Mac owners will be using the new OS on a day-by-day basis.

Even Apple knows this, which is why Jobs warned everyone that MacOS X's real stepping out party will take place in the summer. That's when there should be enough applications to make MacOS X not only a choice upgrade but worth Apple's while to start bundling it in new Macs.

This 'interim' launch - our word, not Apple's - is essentially about meeting deadlines and making a bit of extra cash selling software to early adopters - probably the same 150,000-odd folk who spent $25 on the public beta release. But releasing the software is more important than the money - though don't ignore what it can do to boost Apple's bottom line.

In the current market climate, with Apple's long-term future once again being questioned, proving it can get MacOS X - in many ways the basis for that future - is essential for Apple. We've been waiting for this version of Apple's next-generation OS since 1996/7 - throw in Copland, Pink and other attempts to create the classic MacOS' successor, and the wait is even longer.

All in all, getting MacOS X out now, on schedule - well, on the current schedule - is worth far more strategically and psychologically - not only to Apple itself, but to its supporters - than dithering around for a couple more months trying to cram everything in.

And that goes double when a delayed launch runs the risk of shipping the OS slap bang in the middle of all the hooplah Microsoft is going to be coming out with to promote Windows XP.

Of course, you can argue that Apple has had plenty of time to get MacOS X ready, and that's a valid argument. Jobs' argument yesterday was that it makes more sense to get code out for MacOS 9 - the OS people are actually using and the vast majority will continue to use - than make relatively minor tweaks to an OS in its infancy.

The flaw in that argument is that Apple's MacOS X application frameworks have been pretty well defined for some time, which makes issues like Final Cut Pro's lack of MacOS X certification particularly shoddy. We hope there's a good reason for this, like the app is suitably Carbonised, but Apple doesn't want to say so until MacOS X's CD-RW drivers are ready - which is probably why it won't run under Classic - but knowing Apple like we do, we suspect not.

Still, Apple's MP3 app, iTunes, and its home movie editor, iMovie 2, will both be made available for download on Saturday, both free of charge. So too will a "preview" version of Apple's commercial integrated productivity application, AppleWorks 6.1. ®

Additional

Apple is readying a final upgrade to MacOS 9.1, company sources have claimed, according to Think Secret. Dubbed 'Moonlight', the upgrade adds no new functionality, but simply fixes a number of bugs and updates a handful of system components. It also improves the way the OS will operate in MacOS X's Mac-in-a-box Classic compatibility module.

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Think Secret's Midnight story

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