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Tuesday, April 17, 2007, 06:00 am PT (09:00 am ET)

Apple carves out 3-hour notch for WWDC keynote

Apple has made several additions to its Worldwide Developers Conference website, most notably a time schedule showing that the opening Keynote address will run a considerable three hours.

The inaugural presentation by Apple chief executive Steve Jobs is slated to run 9 AM to 12 PM on Monday, June 11th. In the past, Jobs has used the keynote to introduce developers to the next chapter in Apple computing, unveiling new hardware architectures and software strategies.

During this year's presentation, however, Jobs is widely expected to fill in the missing pieces — or "Top Secret Features" — of its latest operating system overhaul, Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard." These may include a Google-styled geographical mapping application with GPS support, VoIP iChat telephony, and a version of Boot Camp featuring embedded virtualization support.

Early rumors surrounding Leopard had suggested that Apple was grooming its Boot Camp solution into a rival of Microsoft's own Virtual PC virtualization software, which would essentially allow Mac users to run Windows and Mac OS X applications simultaneously.

For its part, Apple has continually denied such claims through comments to members of the analyst community. "Absolutely not," was the response from Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller, when asked last July by a Needham & Co. analyst if the company planned to include a virtualization solution with Leopard. Apple's leadership expressed a similar view during a meeting with Bear Stearns in December. There, the company indicated that it is very pleased with Parallels' third party solution and didn't feel the need to compete with its own solution.

At the same time, there has been a steady stream of evidence to suggest that Apple may not be telling the whole truth when it comes to its plans for Boot Camp — and it wouldn't be the first time the company's leadership intentionally mislead the analyst community. Of the claims published in a recent DigiTimes piece, one suggested that Mac maker would delay Leopard's release till October in order to fine tune an "integrated" version of Boot Camp that would allow Mac users to more easily run Microsoft's Vista operating system. Apple initially denied the report, but pulled an about-face just weeks later, conceding that it would need until October to finishing the Leopard release.

There's also no concrete explanation as to why Apple's enterprise division, which has seemingly obtained Parallels' customer list, has been routinely phoning those customers to find out how they're using the Parallels Desktop software for Mac in the enterprise.

In delaying Leopard last week, Apple did make one thing certain: developers and industry watchers should have the full skinny on its plans for Leopard by the close of Jobs' keynote presentation on June 11th at the WWDC '07.

"We now plan to show our developers a near final version of Leopard at the conference, give them a beta copy to take home so they can do their final testing, and ship Leopard in October," the Cupertino-based company wrote in an official statement. "We think it will be well worth the wait."