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Tuesday, March 29, 2005, 02:00 pm PT (05:00 pm ET)

Apple primes Mac OS X 10.3.9 for release

Insider say Mac OS X 10.3.9 is nearly ready for prime time.

Sources tell AppleInsider that the release of Mac OS X 10.3.9, a maintenance update to Apple's Mac OS X 10.3 Panther operating system, is now imminent.

According to reports, Apple has recently provided its developers with back-to-back builds of the system update — a tell-tale sign that development is winding down.

These recent builds were labeled Mac OS X 10.3.9 build 7W86 and 7W87, respectively, and weigh-in at approximately 113MB in Combo Updater-form.

Reliable reports indicate that Mac OS X 10.3.9 will improve boot time for machines with a large number of fonts, while tweaking the performance of Directory Services and FireWire audio. It will also deliver video, USB, fax and modem driver fixes.

In general, Apple is aiming to tie any and all loose ends in Mac OS X 10.3 Panther with the release of 10.3.9, which may be the last update to the system before the company shifts full-focus to Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, due next month.

Previous reports indicated that Mac OS X 10.3.9 will also sport improvements to AFPServer, Bluetooth, Date and Time, DVD Player, FireWire, iDisk Synching, Mail, Networking, Printing, Safari, and Terminal.

An official release is expected in early April, but could come as early as this week, sources said.