Exclusive: Apple preps German developers for OS X

In a series of briefings, Apple's chief of worldwide developer relations confirmed that the Mac maker's next-generation OS is in the final stretch and should ship by the end of February

In a bid to expand Mac OS X development internationally, Guillermo Ortiz, Apple Computer director for worldwide developer relations, this month explained Apple's strategy for the next-generation OS to more than 100 German developers.

During three sessions here that provided an inside view of Mac OS X and its Java 2 implementation, Ortiz and his staff confirmed that Mac OS X is feature-frozen and on track to ship by February.

Meanwhile, German developers learned that while Java 2 will be tightly integrated under Mac OS X, the company has abandoned plans to support it under Mac OS 9.

For most of the developers, the release date of Mac OS X was the most important question of the day. Although Apple never announces a product during such events, Ortiz and his team made it clear that the release is imminent.

According to Apple, there will be no further beta releases or updates; the next version of Mac OS X will be the golden master distributed to developers.

Another member of the European developer staff hinted that Apple plans to introduce the final release of Mac OS X either in January or February during an Apple event -- either Macworld Expo/San Francisco, which runs 9 January through 12 January, or Macworld Expo/Tokyo, which runs 22 February through 24 February.

ZDNet News sources recently reported that Apple has pegged 24 February as the ship date for Mac OS X.

Apple's Java briefing also attracted a lot of interest from Germany's Mac developers.

During the session, Apple made it clear that the Java 2 implementation in Mac OS X will support the look and feel of the new Aqua interface.

By contrast, Java 2 for Mac OS 9 is no longer on the agenda, the presenters said. Apple tried an implementation with the current operating system, but the project wasn't technically sound, they said: Missing underpinnings in Mac OS 9 and a lack of performance halted the project.

Although Apple did not discuss benchmark results of Java 2 in Mac OS X, sources said that it runs 1.8 times faster on the multiprocessor systems supported by the new OS, and results are apparently expected to improve by launch time.

Under Mac OS X, the crash of a single applet won't bring down the Java virtual machine, Apple said, allowing other applets to continue running uninterrupted. The presenters said Apple is currently working on several tutorials for Cocoa and Java.

Apple also fielded a developer's question about Mac OS X's ability to process multimedia in real time. Apple's response: The final version of Mac OS X will significantly improve the capability to meet the timing demands of multimedia applications such as the company's own Final Cut Pro and iMovie packages.

Asked about MPEG-4 support in a forthcoming version of QuickTime, Ortiz said Apple is evaluating the video format but is not yet prepared to announce support.

Ortiz also mentioned that Apple has not yet committed to Version 2.0 of the Universal Serial Bus connectivity protocol; if customer demand were strong enough, however, Apple could implement USB 2.0 quickly.

In other news, the presenters looked ahead to a 2001 delivery date for WebObjects 5, Apple's Web-serving application. Sources said the new version runs seamlessly on Mac OS X and should be released within a couple of months of Mac OS X.

Guest speaker Rafael K Kobylinski of the University of Munich detailed his department's experiences with Mac OS X and other Apple technology to create a VRML solution based on OpenGL and QuickTime, which the group uses as an abstraction layer for real-time video processing.

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