Apple lifts lid of OS X Leopard

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Apple lifts lid of OS X Leopard

Apple plans to launch the next version of its OS X 10.5 operating system code named Leopard in the spring of 2007.

Apple plans to launch the next version of its OS X 10.5 operating system code named Leopard in the spring of 2007.

Developers attending the company's World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco this week will receive a first preview version.

Apple doesn't release public betas and developers have to sign a non-disclosure agreement to prevent new details about the software from leaking out. The company at the event however provided a brief preview of several of the application's new features and technologies.

The new operating system will introduce a new backup and recovery technology dubbed Time Machine that promises to make constant back-ups of the hard drive.

"If your hard drive dies, you buy a new hard drive, you put it in your machine and you will be right where you were when that hard drive died," Scott Forestall, Apple’s vice president of Platform Experience told delegates.

The technology uses a secondary hard drive such as an external backup device.

Time Machine will also let users recover items that they have deleted or restore files to a previous version when a document accidentally was overwritten.

Another new technology introduces virtual desktops to the operating system. Referred to as Spaces, it allows users to organise their applications in one of four desktops to prevent them from cluttering their desktops.

In a demonstration Apple chief executive Steve Jobs showed one Space running Mail and the Safari browser, while a second would hold a sound recorder and website publishing software to create a podcast.

"Spaces is a new way of working on your Mac," said Jobs.

"If you're like me, you do a bunch of things at once. You've got a lot of apps running at once and yet the task that you are doing each require a few apps together. Wouldn't it be great if you can take those few apps that are required for each task and create a space for them to be in?"

OS X 10.5 will also be the first version of Apple's operating system to offer full support for 64-bit processors.

The current 10.4 version supports 64-bit in the Unix layer, but doesn't extend it to the user interface and application support. This requires software developers to build a 32-bit user interface for their 64-bit applications.

Application developers also will be able to profit from animation technology that Apple plans to build into the operating system.

Developers previously would be required to code the entire animation but with the new technology only have to define a starting state and some frames during the animation.

Apple in a demonstration showed off an interactive screen saver that required 90 per cent less code because of the animation support.

Developers can also look forward to a new version 3.0 of the Xcode tool as well as a new application to create Dashboard widgets.

Widgets are small applications created in Javascript. The forthcoming Dashcode tool promises a build-in debugger as well as templates for common tasks such as RSS integration and search.

Apple furthermore will be building out several of its existing applications. The Spotlight search technology is set to extend its search beyond the user's system to include computers on a local network or company servers.

The Mail application will be expanded with a "To Do" list and HTML-based templates for email messages. The iChat instant messaging client will receive optinal backdrops, allowing video chat users to set a background image for their chat session.

Jobs also promised enhanced parental controls, multi user support for the iCal calendar and improved accessibility features.

Leopard will be the sixth version of Apple's OS X operating system that was first launched in March 2001. Jobs taunted Microsoft, which hasn't launched a major new version of its operating system since October 2001.

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