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Until the recent release of Mac OS 9.2, Apple hadn't released a x.2 build of a Macintosh operating system since System 6; however, as the clock continues to turn on Mac OS X, version 10.2 is on its way through the channel. While we all wait for Macworld New York in July for this release, many of us had expected that Mac OS X 10.x would follow much the same upgrade schedule as past Apple operating systems in that it would end at 10.5 or 10.6 and be replaced by Mac OS X v11.0 sometime in 2003. However, when the "clock strikes noon" this summer we may find that instead of a standard Apple release schedule we are finding ourselves engulfed in NeXTian fast and small updates rather than the usual storing up of bug fixes and features for the next major release. So instead of ending at 10.5, we may be staying with version 10.x much longer than we first thought. This naming scheme may in fact tell us more about Apple's plans than their press releases.
Several weeks ago, Jaguar build 6A14 was released internally at Apple, although 6A14 has not been leaked out and 6B11 is the only Jaguar build to be leaked to the outside world. Mac enthusists have been scouring the the web for Puma builds of 10.1.2 which seems to have reached Golden Master around build 5P55. Mac OS X 10.2 build 6B11 is evidence of just how tight a ship Apple is running today. The inclusion of iTunes 1.1 and Stuffit Expander 6.0.1 suggests that the build is quite old, since iTunes 2 was announced in October and released in November.
Jaguar has been planned to bring back several features from Mac OS 9 such as the heavily-requested "spring-loaded folders" option in the Finder which is now a setting in Finder Preferences.
Apple has also added some new functionality to the Universal Access preference pane, which offers UI support options for the disabled. Two new tabs: Seeing and Hearing, each provide several more options in order to tweak the system to user specific needs. Users now have the option to invert the screen to white-on-black as well as pulse the entire screen at when an alert sound is played, much the same way as Mac OS 9.x would flash the title bar if the sound was muted. Contexual menus now support "Open with," which allows you to choose which application to use to open the file, as well as displaying the current default application.
Disc Copy has been greatly expanded in features as well as interface. There is now a toolbar which can be customized in the same way as the Finder toolbar. These seem to be very recent additions, however, as the icons for these new features are not complete. Disc Copy is now able to erase CD-RWs and DVD-RWs, which indicates that Apple may soon begin pushing the SuperDrive's ability to burn DVD-RW media. (Mac OS X 10.1 can burn DVD-RW discs, but is not able to erase them for future rewriting.)
Several peripheral issues have also arisen in this build of Mac OS X. Currently Image Capture, Print Center, Connect to Server, and Apple System Profiler are all broken in some form. Image capture does not auto-detect connected cameras and therefore does not open or download images over USB when a digital camera is connected. Print Center quits on opening, which obviously renders it unusable. Zones are not displayed correctly in Connect To Server, which we can hope implies additional capabilities on this front in the near future. (However, manual connections via Connect To Server still function properly.) 6B11's Apple System Profiler is very insensitive to mouse clicks on different tabs, and none of the other issues (such as device tree rendering) have been fixed yet; ASP still has a ways to go before it is on par with the OS 9 version.
Mac OS X 10.2 is still in early development and is not expected before next summer; however, 6B11 offers us a glimpse into the future of X: continued refinement, added features, and attention to even the most minor details.
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