Steve Jobs used his Seybold San Francisco keynote on Tuesday to showcase forthcoming versions of the Mac OS.
While Apple has been focussing lately on its return to the consumer market with the newly launched iMac, Steve Jobs assured an audience of publishing professionals that the company remains committed to their needs.
Jobs had no major surprises up his sleeve, but he managed to impress the traditionally heavily Mac-oriented Seybold crowd with demonstrations of Mac OS 8.5 and Mac OS X. Jobs also made a number of relatively minor software and hardware announcements that nevertheless won applause from the audience.
The ?interim? CEO painted an upbeat picture of his first year back at the helm of Apple. He said one million Power Macintosh G3 systems have been sold since launch almost a year ago.
Jobs demonstrated four features that are to be included in Mac OS 8.5, an operating system update that is set to ship in October:
* Sherlock, a new search and indexing technology. It allows users to formulate a search in natural language. Sherlock uses all available search engines on the Internet, comes back with the results, ranks them and summarises all returned documents. Sherlock also indexes documents on the local hard drive, allowing full text searches.
* Faster file copying. Steve Jobs claimed Mac OS 8.5 is faster than Windows, and twice as fast as Mac OS 8.1 in copying large files, both locally and over a network. While Windows NT requires 25 seconds to copy a 185 MB file over a 100 Mb Ethernet network, Mac OS 8.5 does it in 17, Jobs claimed.
* Applescript has been speeded up and extended to handle complex workflow operations. Scripts can now automate Colorsync and Sherlock operations, as well as commands in applications such as Quark Xpress and Adobe Photoshop. These scripts can now be attached to folders. For instance, dropping an image on a specific folder can launch an Applescript that starts up Photoshop and rotates the image.
* Colorsync now supports additional colour management algorithms from Agfa and Imation, as well as those already supported from Heidelberg and Kodak.
Jobs also demonstrated Mac OS X, the next generation operating system based on Nextstep, the operating system acquired from Steve Jobs other company, Next. In May Mac OS X replaced Rhapsody in the Apple roadmap as the successor to Mac OS 8. Rhapsody, which was badly received by developers, has now been sidelined. Mac OS X offers easier portability of applicatications.
Mac OS X will offer advanced OS features such as protected memory, virtual memory, pre-emptive multitasking and full multithreading. It is set to ship in the fall of 1999, Jobs said.
Mac OS X will do a better job at running existing Mac OS applications than Rhapsody. The operating system will include a slimmed down version of the Mac OS 8 API?s, called Carbon, that will allow existing applications to run on Mac OS X and benefit from its advanced features, with only minor code changes at most.
Jobs demonstrated some of the most strategic Mac OS applications running on the new OS: Adobe Photoshop, Macromedia FreeHhand and Quark Xpress. Executives from Adobe, Quark and Macromedia came onstage to support Mac OS X - something they had been loath to do for Rhapsody.
Steve Jobs also made a series of hardware and software announcements:
* Webobjects is another piece of software Apple inherited from Next. It will run on the PowerPC G3 systems running Mac OS X, as well as on Windows NT and Unix. The new release will be available in October, starting at $1,499. New features include the ability to develop multithreaded applications, better tools for managing, configuring and testing the scalability of applications, and improved Java performance.
* A PowerMac G3 server based on a 333 MHz PowerPC G3 processor, with a US price of $4,599.
* Apple will stop producing PowerBook G3 models with 13 inch screens, and concentrate on the 14 inch models. The 14 inch PowerBook G3 with 233 MHz G3 with 512K level 2 cache, 32Mbytes SDRAM, 2 GB hard drive and 20x CD-Rom is now priced at $2,799. New highend PowerBook models sport 300 MHz PowerPC G3 processors and DVD-Rom drives.
At the end of Steve Jobs? keynote, Adobe demonstrated an early version of a new page layout tool codenamed K2, which will be able to run natively on Mac OS 8 and on Mac OS X.
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