The next major update to Apple Computer's Mac OS 9 has passed its first testing milestone.
The product, known inside the company as Fortissimo, will incorporate new drivers, new interface elements and offer better integration with the Mac OS X, which is Apple's next-generation operating system, according to sources.
Fortissimo may also be the last significant release for the "classic" Mac OS before all of Apple's efforts turn completely to Mac OS X when it is released early next year.
In rolling out Fortissimo, Apple is expected to consolidate several system component upgrades that have appeared since Mac OS 9.0.4; as well as new versions of ColorSync, Apple's color-matching technology; and OpenGL, the 3D API. Developers say Fortissimo will include Finder 9.1, a new version of the Mac OS desktop. This update will feature a "refinement" of the Get Info feature and will also place a new "Window" menu in the Finder's menu bar. Most likely this will be to provide easy access to any window on the desktop.
Another feature called Image Capture 1.0, which is described as a group of APIs for downloading digital camera images from within applications, may also replace the need for various TWAIN or camera-specific drivers. Some sources suggest this will enable Mac users to capture digital images directly into their computers without a camera-savvy application such as Adobe Photoshop.
Also on tap is vDSP 1.0, a set of digital signal processing functions, both scalar and vector, which could be used to speed coding and decoding of sound, MP3, speech, audio, video, and radar input and output. It remains unclear whether these functions will require the G4 processor's Velocity Engine.
Other new features include Help 4.0 engine, 128-bit encryption for file security, USB Printer Sharing 1.0 for shared use of a USB-based printer over a physical or wireless TCP/IP network, a PowerPC-native General Controls control panel and an improved Multiple User feature.
Open Transport 3.0, a new version of Apple's network communication system, is currently included in the first build of Fortissimo, complete with the long-awaited multilink multi-homing capability.
However, sources have indicated to ZDNet News that Version 3.0 has encountered problems in development and may not be included in the initial release of Fortissimo.
Fortissimo is also supposed to feature improved support for both the USB and FireWire connectivity standards as well as CarbonLib 1.1, a new build for compatibility with Carbon applications.
What final name Fortissimo will be shipped under is still in doubt. According to strict naming conventions, Fortissimo should be called Mac OS 9.1, but sources suggest that public relations and marketing concerns are pushing for the Mac OS 9.5 moniker.
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