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Mac OS X 10.3 to ship in 15 days' time

Day of the Panther

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Apple has chosen 24 October as the release date for Mac OS X 10.3, aka 'Panther', with copies being handed over to buyers from 7pm UK, 2pm Eastern, 11am Pacific time on that day.

And having just released an updated version of Mac OS X 10.2.8, Apple has also released a minor upgrade to its iCal and iSync calendar and device synchronisation tools.

Panther was unveiled at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco last June, and in addition to the usual bug-fixing adds 150 new features to the OS, including a redesigned Finder, fast switching between user accounts without shutting down apps and logging out, 128-bit encryption of user data, better font management, improved PDF viewing, integrated desktop faxing, improved Windows server and file compatibility, and updates to all the bundled applications and tools, such as the Safari web browser, Mail, iChat, iSync, iCal and the developer tools, now branded as Xcode.

You can learn more here and here.

iCal 1.5.1, meanwhile, is a minor upgrade that, according to Apple, "is easier and faster to use with its enhanced Info Drawer, To Do alarms and notes, more keyboard shortcuts, ability to publish or subscribe to calendars on servers located behind a firewall, improved alarms, support for events in multiple time zones, as well as other stability and performance improvements".

The release requires the new, 1.2.1, version of iSync, which adds calendar synchronisation and picture-based called ID for the Symbian-based Sony Ericsson P800, Nokia 3650 and Nokia 7650 smartphones. iSync now supports the Sony Ericsson T616 and the Z600. .Mac users who sync their bookmarks can now view, edit and use them from any browser by visiting http://bookmarks.mac.com.

There's still no support for non-Symbian Nokia handsets, alas. Both updates are free of charge and can be downloaded here.

Panther will set you back £99 (including sales tax) or $129; all G5 owners and anyone who bought a Mac after 8 October gets it for free (though there's a £14 or $19.95 "handling charge" to pay). ®

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