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  • The Leopard Report: Running Late?

    February 22nd, 2007

    There were lots and lots of hopes when Apple first unveiled Mac OS 10.5 Leopard last August at the WWDC. Although some might have thought “Is that all there is?” when the presentation was over, you expected there was a lot more to come. Steve Jobs said that some features were being kept under wraps, because Microsoft might allegedly copy them for Windows.

    True? Well, it sounded like marketing hype, actually. The chances that Microsoft could somehow graft new Leopard-derived features onto Windows Vista in a few months wasn’t terribly logical. Microsoft had five years to finish Vista, and had actually shed significant features along the way.

    But it made for good copy, and maybe some people believed it. No matter, because most of you no doubt expected the rest of the picture to be presented during the keynote address at last month’s Macworld. But that was not to be.

    Oh well, maybe Steve Jobs wanted to focus attention on the iPhone, and some on the Apple TV, and too much emphasis on Leopard — any emphasis on Leopard — would dilute the message. So expectations arose that there would soon be some sort of special press briefing where we’d learn the rest of the story.

    That was not to be either. As of today, all we know about Leopard, officially at least, is what Apple tells us in its “Sneak Peek” and that it’s due for release this coming spring. As we approach the final days of February, you have to wonder why all’s quiet about what’s really happening. Surely the feature set has long since been finalized, and all that’s left is a few weeks or a few months of fine-tuning. Or at least, it would seem that way, although I realize things aren’t so simple when it comes to building a new version of an operating system.

    Some Mac sites have suggested that the date for this year’s WWDC, June 11-15, clearly indicates that Leopard will ship during that timeframe. This would seem to be in keeping with previous WWDC sessions, where there has been a major product revelation that developers and power users alike need to know. Surely the release of a new operating system would fit into that category.

    So is there some unexpected hang-up in getting Leopard out the door? Or are we all becoming just too impatient about such matters. After all, it’s not as if Tiger is so bad that we can’t continue to use it for a few more months.

    On the other hand, the arrival of Windows Vista must have somehow pressured Apple to get their work done as quickly as possible, without sacrificing quality of course. But that is pure speculation on my part.

    Of course, none of this has stopped the rumor sites from suggesting that Apple is way ahead of schedule at this point, and that Leopard will ship in late March, closely coinciding with the expected arrival of Adobe Creative Suite CS3. Somehow the planets are supposed to align on both projects at the same time, although I fail to see any real connection. After all, a spring 2007 release for Adobe’s productivity applications was announced last year, and the Photoshop CS3 public beta got some pretty good marks considering it wasn’t a release product. So Adobe may indeed by making great progress in getting the suite out the door.

    It’s not as if the heads of Apple and Adobe are secretly plotting to get their products out at the very same time. Besides, if Leopard were only a few short weeks from release, I’d think we would have heard more about it by now, and not be left with an incomplete Sneak Peek. But what do I know? After all, it’s quite possible Apple is finalizing the press announcements and that the full briefing, and the public revelation of all of Leopard’s features, will come in a week or two. Then we’ll all know the actual release date and pricing.

    However, I suppose it is possible that Apple has encountered some unexpected bumps along the way, thus slowing work on completing 10.5. It may well be that some features that might have appeared will be held until 10.6, or whatever it’ll be called.

    But since Apple doesn’t let us in on such information, I can only consider a few possibilities and leave plenty of room in our Comments section for you to contribute our own ideas. Who knows: One of you may even have the right answer!

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