Apple Stores Gird For Friday Leopard Launch - InformationWeek

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Software // Enterprise Applications
12:45 PM

Apple Stores Gird For Friday Leopard Launch

Apple is confident that the slick new interface that Leopard brings to its desktops and laptops will help it cut into Microsoft's dominance of the PC operating system market.

Apple is pulling out all the stops for the Friday launch of its new Leopard operating system. Apple Stores around the country will close from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, then reopen until 10 pm to welcome tech aficionados that want to be among the first to get their hands on the software.

Mac OS X Leopard fans crowd Apple's San Francisco store for the operating system's debut.
Among the promotions: Apple Store staffers in New York City, San Francisco and other locations will hand special edition Leopard T-shirts to the first 500 shoppers.

In Tokyo, where Leopard went on sale earlier today, hundreds of shoppers lined up at Apple Stores to purchase the OS -- according to local news reports.

Apple is confident that the slick new interface that Leopard -- officially known as OSX 10.5--brings to its PCs and laptops will help it cut into Microsoft's dominance of the PC operating system market.

To that end, Leopard features a number of graphical enhancements that redefine the way users interact with their Macintosh computers. A feature called Stacks arranges all the files in a folder into a fan shape when the folder is clicked on. It's meant to counter Windows Vista's Flip 3D interface, which sorts files and windows into a cascading, three-dimensional view.

Leopard also borrows heavily from Apple's successful iPod interface. An enhanced Finder tool lets users leaf through icons representing their files the same way they can flip through music tracks on the digital music player. Another new feature allows users to make desktop backgrounds out of their favorite digital images. . Apple is also hoping that new productivity enhancements and security tools built into the 64-bit Leopard will push it deeper into the business computing world, where the company's largely been shut out by Microsoft.

A feature called Time Machine works with an external hard drive to automatically create backups of users' complete system image -- including files and the data within. The system creates backups hourly, daily and weekly. For e-mail power users, Leopard Mail offers a range of professionally designed templates that can be employed to create business class correspondence. A Spotlight search tool lets users quickly troll through their in-boxes to find the messages most important to them.

Leopard also comes with a preinstalled version of Bootcamp -- software that lets users run PC files on a Mac by booting Windows.

Leopard also features some industrial strength security enhancements. Its Disk Utility tool lets users create files protected by 128-bit or even 256-bit AES encryption. And Apple says its Sandbox technology ensures that applications access only the files they're supposed to while allowing users to specify which apps can talk to the network.

All of this doesn't come cheap in terms of resource requirements. Leopard needs to run on a Mac with at least an 867-MHz PowerPC G4 chip. Leopard will also run on Intel-based Macs. Users will additionally need at least 512 MB of memory on their computers and 9GB of available disk space to run OSX Leopard.

Apple is now taking online orders for the software. A single user upgrade pack is priced at $129.00, while a Family Pack good for five installations costs $199. Leopard will also ship pre-installed on the full range of high-end Macs.

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