Mac OS X almost here

Summary:But it will be several months before developers bring products to market able to take full advantage of the new OS.

Although Mac's new OS X hits stores Saturday, it will take time for most software developers to release versions of their products that take full advantage of the new operating system.

Microsoft Office, probably the most widely used Macintosh program, isn't scheduled to ship until fall at the earliest, said Kevin Browne, general manager of Microsoft's Mac business unit. Adobe Systems, which makes the widely used PhotoShop and Illustrator software, has offered no timetable for its OS X compatible releases. A number of other software developers have given the summer and fall as approximate release dates.

Apple Computer said this week more than 350 applications compatible with OS X have already shipped. The Aladdin Systems' StuffIt Deluxe 6.0 is as an example of one such application, according to a company newsletter.

Analysts assert that it's not the number of products--but the products themselves--that matter. And Microsoft Office and Adobe PhotoShop are among the two most widely used.

"I think Apple would certainly would wish that it were earlier," said Gartner analyst Chris LeTocq, referring to the timeframe of the software releases.

According to Apple, hundreds of more applications will be available this summer, and about 10,000 developers are working on more than 20,000 applications optimized for Mac OS X, including EarthLink, Connectix, IBM, Palm, Sun Microsystems and Symantec.

Most Mac programs, including Office and PhotoShop, actually can run on OS X--but only in the so-called Classic environment. This means they cannot take advantage of the operating system's new graphical interface or most of its new features such as protected memory. And Mac enthusiasts who buy OS X will have to run many software applications under OS 9.1.

Still, analysts do not perceive this as a huge stumbling block for Apple, which has not targeted its initial OS X release toward the wider consumer audience.

"You can't really consider Mac OS X to be ready for the everyday consumer until it's packaged with the hardware," Le Tocq said. "The release that is out there now is the one that is out there for evaluation purposes, for developers, for people to have a look at. The one that has all the features we anticipate will be out (this summer) at Macworld."

Software companies have offered the following timetables on when they expect to release OS X compatible software:

• Microsoft's Internet Explorer for OS X is planned for summer, although a preview version of 5.1 will come with OS X on Saturday.

• Quark's upcoming release of Quark Xpress 5.0, which the company said it hopes will be released by the end of the year, will not be optimized for OS X but will run in Classic mode. The subsequent version of Quark Xpress, however, will be optimized for OS X, the company said. There is no timeframe yet, said Quark representative Cori Keeton.

• Macromedia said it will ship Freehand 10 this spring, but Dreamweaver is not quite as far along.

• Filemaker, an Apple subsidiary, said it will deliver a Mac OS X version of Filemaker before the end of the year, but the company cannot offer a more specific timetable.

• Corel will release OS X-optimized software this summer and fall. Bryce 5, a landscape creation tool, will be the first such product to ship this July. It will be followed by Corel Painter 7 and CorelDraw 10 this summer. In the fall, KPT 7 and Corel Knockout will be released.

• AliasWavefront plans to release Maya, its 3D animation and effects software, in June.

Topics: Operating Systems, Apple, Microsoft, Software

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