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Steve Jobs talks future Mac OS X upgrades, Mac sales, and more


In a new interview with the New York Times, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs hints that his company will continue to pump out rapid revisions to the Mac OS X for the foreseeable future, while also shedding some color on current Mac sales mix and the birth of multi-touch.

Commenting on the release of Mac OS X Leopard later this week, Jobs told the paper that the operating system release would anchor a schedule of product upgrades that could continue for as long as a decade.

"I'm quite pleased with the pace of new operating systems every 12 to 18 months for the foreseeable future," he said. "We’ve put out major releases on the average of one a year, and it’s given us the ability to polish and polish and improve and improve."

Jobs' comments echo those of Mac OS X grandfather Avie Tevanian, who before leaving Apple told a 2004 software summit that the Mac maker would continue releasing updates at a "really fast" pace despite relenting slightly from its then rigorous annual release schedule.

Speaking to the Times, Jobs also continued to poke fun at Microsoft's multi-tiered Windows Vista marketing strategy, which compels users to buy into pricier premium editions of the software to gain access to more powerful tools.

With Leopard, Jobs quipped, "everybody gets the Ultimate edition and it sells for 129 bucks, and if you go on Amazon and look at the Ultimate edition of Vista, it sells for 250 bucks."

According to the Times, Microsoft has hinted that its next operating system, code-named Windows 7, would not arrive until 2010. By that time, the paper said, Apple will have likely introduced two successive versions of Mac OS X.

Meanwhile, Jobs said that two-thirds of Apple Macs sold in the United States are now notebook systems — well above the industry norm that saw portable system sales outpace desktops for the first time in history last quarter.

The Apple chief also used his interview with the Times to reveal that the Apple development team worried constantly that their approach to the iPhone's revolutionary multi-touch technology might fail during the years they were creating it.

"We all had that Garry Trudeau cartoon that poked fun at the Newton in the back of our minds," he said, citing Doonesbury comic strips that mocked an Apple handwriting-recognition system in 1993. "This thing had to work."