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Mac OS X Honcho Logs Off

By Richard Adhikari MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Mar 23, 2011 2:56 PM PT

Bertrand Serlet, senior vice president of Mac software engineering and the man often regarded as the father of Mac OS X, is leaving Apple.

Mac OS X Honcho Logs Off

Cupertino announced his departure in a prepared statement but did not respond to requests for further comment by press time.

Serlet will be replaced by Craig Federighi, currently Apple's vice president of Mac software engineering.

Serlet said he's leaving to focus less on products and more on science.

Who in the World Is Bertrand Serlet?

Mac fans will remember Serlet as the Apple executive who ridiculed Windows Vista at the Apple World Wide Developer Conference in 2006 when comparing it to Mac OS X Tiger.

At WWDC 2009, he hammered Windows 7, saying it was another version of Windows Vista.

Serlet has worked with Steve Jobs for the past 22 years, first at NeXT, where he developed the workspace manager in the NextStep operating system and OpenStep. OpenStep was an object-oriented application programming interface specification developed jointly by NeXT and Sun Microsystems.

Serlet ported the NeXT operating system to Mac OS X and is credited with leading the development of Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5.

Prior to working at NeXT, Serlet worked at Xerox PARC.

Serlet was appointed senior vice president of Mac Software Engineering in 2003 to replace Avie Tevanian, who was promoted to chief software technology officer. Serlet was at the time Apple's vice president of platform technology.

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Most recently, Serlet has working on Mac OS X Lion, the next generation of the OS X platform.

This will integrate features from the iPad and will be available in summer, Apple has announced.

Features from the iPad that will appear in OS X Lion will include the recently launched Mac App Store, which will be built into Lion; Launchpad, which will provide instant access to apps; and full-screen app display capability.

Apple put out a preview version of Mac OS X Lion for developers through the Mac App store last month.

Serlet's replacement, Federighi, already heads up the Mac OS X engineering team, so Serlet's departure should have little impact on Lion.

Apple's statement quoted Serlet as saying the transition to Mac OS X Lion, which is due for release this summer, should be seamless.

That's likely to be the case, Rick Sturm, founder and CEO of Enterprise Management Associates, told MacNewsWorld.

"On the engineering side, it's relatively easy to switch people," Sturm explained.

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Perhaps Serlet's departure is a sign that Apple's preparing for the post-Jobs era.

"Now that Apple's moving to a post-Jobs mode, some old-timers are starting to leave," suggested Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. "It's hard to tell what will change, but given how tightly Jobs is tied to all parts of Apple, you can be sure it will be a lot," he told MacNewsWorld.

However, Enderle believes Serlet's departure is voluntary.

"When you see veterans who have been at a company for years and have enjoyed prominence in their roles, the tendency when they leave is to add some deeper hidden meanings to their departure," Laura DiDio, principal at ITIC, told MacNewsWorld.

"I think Serlet's departure is a natural evolution," DiDio remarked. "If there were something really terrible going on it probably would have leaked out."

Whither Federighi?

Craig Federighi, who will replace Serlet, is an old colleague, also having worked at NeXT and then moved to Apple.

However, he left Cupertino in 1999 to join Ariba, where he held several roles, including chief technology officer.

Federighi returned to Apple in 2009 as head of Mac OS X engineering. He has been managing the Mac OS software engineering group for the past two years.

In his new role as Serlet's replacement, Federighi will report to Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

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