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Successive Mac OS X 10.5.3 builds continue from Apple

Mac maker Apple Inc. continued this week with a somewhat unusual practice of providing outside developers with successive builds of its next operating system update, Mac OS X 10.5.3, fairly early in the testing cycle.

The company has historically followed a pattern in which it would alternate between releasing external and internal builds, where successive external seeds — those to outside developers — would only occur in the days leading up to the software's intended release.

Development of Mac OS X 10.5.3 has not been following that course. Instead, Apple has externally seeded three successive builds of the OS update to its vast developer community, beginning with build 9D10 late last month and continuing on through build 9D12 on Thursday.

According to people familiar with 9D12, the build tacks on 17 additional fixes and code corrections to a list now over 110 deep. Particular emphasis appears to have been placed on Spaces, they say, where new tweaks target the feature's preference pane, hot keys activation, and general functionality.

In addition, Apple is also said to have patched holes in Kerberos authentication, the .Mac preference pane, AirPort, and Network Setup Assistant.

In a set of developer notes reported to have accompanied the latest build, Apple made no changes to the system components in which it seeks developer feedback. That list still spans 25 items long and includes core components such as AirPort, Automator, Audio, Graphics, iCal, Mail,. Rosetta, Spaces, Spotlight, and Time Machine.

Though Mac OS X 10.5.3 is presumed for a release sometime in the next 7 weeks, the rapid and successive seedings suggest the update could hit sooner than later.