To take Microsoft's operating system head on, Apple recently launched its much-awaited Operating System Leopard. Boasting of over 300 features, Leopard claims to give users more flexibility and choice, which no other OS has been able to offer so far.
In an interaction with Abhigna N G of CIOL, Justin Zhang, OS X Product Marketing Manager, Apple, Asia Pacific, gives an in-depth overview of Leopard OS and how Apple's Operating System will revolutionise the world of computing.
Zhang also talks about Leopard advanced 64-bit architecture and multiprocessor, security features embedded in the OS and 'virtualization technology'.
Excerpts from the interview:
CIOL: How does the redesigned search tool of Leopard OS ' Finder' allow users to browse and share files between more than one computer?
Justin Zhang: Leopard supports many common network file systems, including AFP, NFS, SMB/CIFS and FTP. The new Finder is able to automatically discover shared computers that are available on Macs and Windows PCs as well as those on the network and connect to them on demand. With directory services like Open directory (built on LDAP and Kerberos) and Bonjour, it is really easy browsing and accessing share files. User can perform Spotlight searches on other Macs through Finder.
The new Finder incorporates Cover Flow technology, which makes browsing files as easy and cool as browsing music in iTunes, with instant high resolution multi-page preview of full file content via Quick Look. This super quick way of looking at files without launching the application, makes finding and browsing through documents more efficient. A real time saver.
Leopard's redesigned Finder's side bar not only let users easily access share files, it even allows screen sharing with another Mac (if authorized, of course) - which lets you do anything you could do if you were sitting in front of that computer. Change a system preference, publish an iPhoto album, or add a new playlist to iTunes.
Finally, the new Back to My Mac feature lets .Mac members browse and access files on their Mac remotely using the Internet. For example, from a Mac at work, a user can access files on their Mac at home and vice versa. Spotlight powers the new Finder with even more advanced searching options and the ability to find things on other Mac and Leopard Server-based systems.
CIOL: Does Leopard allows users to run copies of Windows XP or Vista on their Mac?
JZ: Leopard is the world's most advanced operating system. So advanced, it even lets you run Windows if there's a PC application you need to use.
The complete Boot Camp release-previously available only as a beta-debuts in Leopard. With Boot Camp, uses can run Windows XP and Windows Vista at native speed on your Mac.
Boot Camp supports the most popular 32-bit releases of Windows XP and Windows Vista. When you use either operating system on your Mac, your Windows applications will run at native speed. Windows applications have full access to multiple processors and multiple cores, accelerated 3D graphics, and high-speed connections like USB, FireWire, Wi-Fi, and Gigabit Ethernet.
CIOL: What are the additional features that Leopard OS provides to software developers?
JZ: Mac OS X Leopard is a uniquely powerful development platform, bringing a 32-bit and 64-bit architecture and multiprocessor capability to the desktop and server. It provides an extremely productive high-level programming environment, Cocoa, combined with the full power of real UNIX, as well as a host of open source web, scripting, database, and development technologies, like Ant, Ruby, Python, Perl, PHP, Apache, Java and most of the popular open source databases.
Leopard built-in Integrated Development Environment (IDE) called Xcode tools, combines time-tested stability and performance, standards-based technologies, and a remarkable user interface, that makes Mac OS X an amazingly multifaceted development platform. Mac OS X Leopard delivers revolutionary technologies like Spotlight, Dashboard, Automator, Core Data, Core Animation, Core Image, and many others which are available to developers.
Xcode 3 allows developers to prototype, compile, debug, analyze, and optimize applications, speeding up your development cycle without additional cost. Xcode allow developers to write applications, libraries, and drivers, and comes with a complete set of developer documentation. Underlying Xcode is GCC 4, an Apple-optimized version of the popular open source compiler, plus the GNU Debugger (GDB). Xcode also includes Interface Builder, an easy-to-use graphical editor for designing and managing your application's user interface. Whether you code in Objective-C, C/C++, or another popular language, Xcode can handle all these codes
Xcode's performance tools, including Instruments and Shark, help developers analyze and debug code, gather metrics, identify and eliminate bottlenecks in your code, and provide a mental model of the inner workings of your code, giving you the information you need to make your program run faster.
If you prefer the ease of a scripting language, AppleScript Studio lets you quickly create native Mac OS X applications that execute AppleScript. Your applications can support the Aqua user interface and control scriptable applications as well as scriptable parts of the operating system.
CIOL: Security is the main concern for end users of operating systems? What are new features that Apple's OS has introduced?
JZ: The Mac has a great track record for security, thanks in part to a development process that incorporates security at the design phase, but also to Apple's commitment to making security easy to use.
In Leopard, a host of new security features and technologies are designed to enhance the protection of your Mac and your personal information, while remaining easy to use and unobtrusive. The system now inspects downloads in more detail to help prevent users from inadvertently downloading malicious applications.
VPN support in Leopard has been enhanced to connect to more of the most popular VPN servers without the need for additional software.
New technologies like Application Signing and sandboxing help stop attacks that try to hijack or modify the software on your system. Once you've activated the new Application Firewall in Leopard, it automatically configures itself so you can get the benefits of firewall protection without having to understand the details of network ports and protocols.
CIOL: Could you elaborate more on 'virtualization technology' that would allow multiple operating systems to run concurrently alongside Mac OS X Leopard?
JZ: Boot Camp is our solution for users who need to run other OS like windows XP and vista on Apple hardware. Boot Camp provides the best performance with native hardware drivers supported by us.
For users who require multiple operating systems to run concurrently with Mac OS X Leopard, there are a few 3rd party solutions available, like VMWare and Parallels. Due to the nature of such virtualization technology, users maybe required to have additional hardware resource like RAM and would not experience the full native speed performance that Boot Camp provides.
Virtualization provides the ability to run multiple operating systems concurrently. This means that users can for example use Mac OS X Leopard for many purposes but for that one application that is not available on the Mac platform, virtualization fills the gap. The application can run within a single environment without the need to reboot. This may save some time and provide the ability to exchange data between two operating systems.
CIOL: How does Leopard support for script-to-framework programming, allowing scripting languages to access Mac OS X specific programming interfaces?
JZ: Mac OS X Leopard has a number of high level scripting languages that allow developers to access low level frameworks
The new Cocoa bridges (PyObjC, RubyCocoa) enables scripting languages to invoke, subclass, and be subclassed by native Objective-C objects. The New BridgeSupport framework enhances bridges by providing additional meta-data and stubs for inline functions. Almost every Cocoa framwork in Mac OS X has complete bridge data for use by Python, Ruby, or any other BridgeSupport-enabled languages.
Leopard also comes with DTrace technology, which allow trace points been embedded in Perl, Python, and Ruby, enabling low-level analyses of application written in those languages.
CIOL: One of your main features, "The Time Machine" is one among 300 new features. Could you brief more on the same.
JZ: When we asked our users, only 26 per cent claimed that they had ever perform some kind of back-up and only 4 per cent had automated backup solution.
Time Machine is a revolutionary way to protect your digital life. With just a one-click setup, Time Machine automatically keeps an up-to-date copy of everything on your Mac. With its built-in version control, Time Machine keeps hourly backup copy for past 24 hours, daily copy for past month and weekly copy till backup hard disk is full. In the event a file is lost, you can use Spotlight search back through time to find deleted files, applications, photos, and other digital media, or restore a particular version of the file. If it's ever necessary, Leopard can easily restore an entire system from the Time Machine data on an external drive.
To start using Time Machine, all you have to do is connect an external drive (sold separately) to your Mac. You're asked if you want it to be your backup drive, and if you say yes, Time Machine takes care of everything else- automatically, and running silently in the background. You'll never have to worry about backing up again. This is by far the most user-friendly backup we've ever seen.