Apple Lets Loose 'Tiger' OS

Solution providers say Macintosh users will want to get their claws on "Tiger," the latest version of Apple's operating system, which is slated to ship late Friday.
Other highlights of Tiger include an updated Safari Web browser with a built-in RSS reader; Mail 2, a new version of OS X's mail application; QuickTime 7, the latest version of Apple's multimedia player; iCal 2, an upgraded calendar application; and Font Book 2, an enhanced font management utility that now supports libraries for installing fonts on the system or network.

Apple, too, sharpened Unix-based OS X under the hood. Tiger brings native 64-bit application support; Core Image and Core Video engines to support new image and video processing applications; improved Windows compatibility so OS X users can more easily access a Windows-based home directory and authenticate against Microsoft's Active Directory;advances to OS X's Unix foundation; Xgrid distributed computing software; and Xcode 2, a new version of Apple's developer tools suite for OS X.

"We work a lot with video professionals, so a lot of people are really looking forward to the core image and graphics engines that have been rewritten for Motion [Apple's motion-graphics design software] and the better performance they'll get out of that," said Gary Dailey, president of Daystar Technology, an Atlanta-based Apple VAR.

Tiger represents Apple's third major OS upgrade since August 2002, following the release of Mac OS X 10.2 "Jaguar" and Mac OS X 10.3 "Panther." As with those versions, Tiger is being sold only as a full version at $129 for a single license and $199 for a five-license "family" pack. Apple solution providers said some customers have expressed dismay that each year Apple has asked them to shell out the full price to have the latest Mac OS, instead of offering current OS X licensees a cheaper upgrade version.

But Ken Bereskin, senior director of Mac OS X product marketing at Apple, said that Tiger--like its predecessors--is worth it. And Apple VARs said the Mac faithful eventually will reach the same conclusion.

"When you take a look at the features [of Tiger], this is probably the most valuable upgrade you could ever think of applying to your Mac, with ground-breaking technologies like Spotlight and Dashboard, an all-new Safari browser and all of these improvements to other system applications, as well as an integrated dictionary and multiperson video conferencing," Bereskin said, adding that volume and maintenance pricing is available for larger deployments. "For $129, we think it's a bargain."

Langdon agreed. "We think it's going to be bigger than Panther was," he said. "It's a bigger deal."

Crywolf, an authorized Apple training center, in the past few months has seen a huge demand for the new Tiger client and server courses, including certification, Langdon said. Such interest spells good news in the near term for the Mac user base, he added.

"I think that over the next six months, as Tiger really gets out there, that [Apple's user base] is going to grow exponentially," Langdon said. "I definitely see more people that aren't traditional Mac installed-base customers."