US Report: Jobs touts PowerBooks, MacOS 8.5 at Seybold

At a Steve Jobs keynote, there is almost always news. At Tuesday's Seybold '98 Publishing conference, he didn't disappoint.

Among other things, Apple's interim CEO said the company would discontinue production of PowerBook notebooks with 13-inch displays and focus instead on 14-inch display models, which will now be priced at $2,799 (£1,706) down from about $3,500 (£2,134). As reported earlier, the $2,799 price tag is one of the lowest prices in the industry.

Other news included the development of a new publishing and page layout platform from Adobe code-named K2, that will run on the forthcoming MacOS 8.5 and MacOS X. It will operate on top of Carbon, Apple's new set of APIs. Jobs demonstrated four key features of MacOS 8.5, which is due in October. These features and others, he said, make MacOS 8.5 a "must-have" upgrade.

One feature, called Sherlock, performs Internet queries by searching a range of search engines simultaneously, instead of one at a time, to find exactly what a user is looking for. With Sherlock, users can also save a live Web search to a local file. Another feature speeds up the copying of large files, which are a hallmark of design and publishing applications. Jobs said that a 185MB file based on the current MacOS 8.1 would take about 35 seconds to transfer to another file. (On Windows 98, he said, it would take about 30 seconds and about 20 seconds under NT.) With the improved copy performance in MacOS 8.5, the same 185MB file takes 17 seconds to transfer, either locally to another user or over a LAN, he said. "Our users are routinely moving 200MB and 300MB files around, and we know we need to speed up this performance,'' Jobs said to the standing-room-only crowd.

A third feature is an improved version of ColorSync, a colour management utility that will now be embedded in the operating system instead of individual applications. The result, Jobs said, is colour printing in which users get a hard copy of exactly what they saw on their computer screen. In addition, Apple has added support for Agfa Division, Kodak, Imation Enterprises Corp. and Heidelberg Group colour management schemes in MacOS 8.5.

Jobs also showed a new version of AppleScript that automates the OS and makes almost every function and application scriptable. There will be some Carbon-based enhancements in MacOS 8.5, Jobs said. Originally, Carbon benefits were expected in MacOS X, which is due around the fourth quarter of 1999.

The keynote was vintage Apple fare, with Jobs dressed in jeans and black turtleneck and a packed auditorium filled with the faithful, who shouted words of encouragement and broke out into wild applause at the mention of good news from the stage. Conspicuously absent from Jobs' speech was any mention of Microsoft.

Also at Seybold, Apple announced an addition to its server line as well as price reductions of up to 35 percent on current 300MHz servers. The company said the new Macintosh server is based on a 333MHz G3 PowerPC chip. Both the 333MHz and 300MHz servers ship with 1MB of Level 2 backside cache, a 10/100BaseT PCI networking card, and a 1.44MB floppy drive. The 333MHz server is priced at $4,599 (£2,804) while the 300MHz server now sells for $2,999 (£1,828).

The 333MHz model also includes 128MB of SDRAM, two 9GB SCSI drives and a 24-speed CD ROM. The 300MHz server is equipped with 64MB of SDRAM, one 4GB SCSI drive and a 24-speed CD ROM. Each server ships with Mac OS 8.1 and AppleShare IP 6 software, a program that provides network services and document management over the Web for Mac and Windows clients. Also included are Apple Network Assistant 3.5 for network and remote system management and Virex 5.8 anti-virus software.

Microsoft President Steve Ballmer will deliver a keynote at Seybold '98 this morning in the US. Highlights from the speech will be posted tomorrow morning UK time.