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Jobs' Leopard Announcement Leaves Analysts Unimpressed

By Gene J. Koprowski MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Aug 9, 2006 4:00 AM PT

Apple CEO Steve Jobs previewed the forthcoming version of Apple Computer's OS X operating system, nicknamed "Leopard," on Monday afternoon before a crowd of thousands of developers at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.

Jobs' Leopard Announcement Leaves Analysts Unimpressed

"There are some top secret features we're going to keep a little close to the vest," he said.

Apple has not announced a launch date for the next operating system, which has left some analysts frustrated.

No Surprises

"It's a slight disappointment," said Gene Munster, an analyst at the Wall Street investment bank Piper Jaffray. "They announced exactly what people were expecting."

Powered by its new, Intel chip-based architecture, Apple is now able to offer people the ability to run both Apple and Microsoft operating systems on a Mac. Earlier this year, Apple debuted Boot Camp -- a free software application that allows the Windows operating system to run on the new Macs. Jobs said a half-million Boot Camp copies have been downloaded already.

Simply put, Leopard will include a more polished version of Boot Camp and some other new features. The Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco was the first public preview of the forthcoming Apple OS, expected to be released next spring, Jobs said.

Anticipated Features

Other anticipated features of Leopard include the Time Machine -- an easy and visually entertaining way to retrieve accidentally deleted files, applications, photos and other content. The program even gives the appearance of backward time travel through the universe on the monitor, as it automatically backs up everything on the Mac to a server or an external hard drive.

Another new feature, Spaces, enables users to toggle between applications with just a keystroke or click. Some analysts say that makes it almost like having a separate desktop -- on your desktop.

Upgrades to Mail are expected -- including simple functions like to-do lists and files for notes for those souls who treat e-mail as if it were a calendar and constantly send themselves reminder messages. Mac users will also be able to make custom messages with photos and stationery. The iChat function will get some clever upgrades as well, allowing users to add photos and video backdrops -- similar to what is done on a blue screen in a TV studio.

Another brand new feature, Web Clip, lets users create their own Dashboard widgets -- small desktop applications that deliver, for example, weather information -- from just about anything on the Web, such as a constantly updating cartoon, a video or even live Webcam shots.

Taking on Vista

Apple may face continuing criticism with Leopard. The OS X update includes backup capabilities and iChat enhancements with video effects. Both features are available via third-party applications.

Though the technology isn't world changing, Leopard and Microsoft's Vista are essentially on a level playing field now, according to Michael Gartenberg, vice president and research director at JupiterResearch. "There is certainly a strong effort to show that most of the things in Vista are already available in Leopard and Tiger," Gartenberg added.

The consensus was that Jobs' keynote speech on Monday was unimpressive, and the new product details were somewhat mundane. Jobs' 90-minute talk introduced a new desktop Mac and previewed Leopard, but most of the upgrades he mentioned are merely tweaks in the performance of an otherwise mature OS, analysts opined.

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