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Leopard Parts

June 25th, 2006

With the WWDC a little more than a month away, people are talking more and more about Leopard. So far, some “screenshots” have been released, but since they are contradictory, at least one of them–and just as likely both–are fake.

The first set were released on a Spanish-language web site, and are almost certainly fake. On the first image, of the Desktop, the window panes are repainted to match the new style in iTunes, and there’s a recolored iSync icon. The second image suggests a virtual Desktop switcher, but all the elements are again ripped off from existing Mac OS graphics.

And now a second set of two screenshots–of virtually the same activity, virtual Desktop switching–have been released through another site. These images seem much more realistic, and are more enticing, but are also probably fake. They show the intriguing feature of tabbed Finder windows a la Safari; a much better implementation of iTunes-style window panes (with a few new buttons and menus included); an icon for a joint Address Book and iCal app; menu bar icons for Windows and virtual Desktops; and, most intriguingly, a Windows app (Internet Explorer 7) apparently working seamlessly within the Mac OS. The “About” window seems to suggest that XP is working within Leopard as well. However, some flaws do show: the “About” window simply declares “Version 10.5,” while traditional beta builds show the raw build number; the Explorer window uses an XP-style scroll bar, suggesting it was Photoshopped in; and the shadows behind the Explorer window are incomplete, again suggesting a mock-up instead of the real thing.

Nevertheless, if it is a fake, as it almost certainly is, it is a very good fake.

So what will be in Leopard? Nobody seems to know for sure. Some kind of Windows-running solution, to be sure, but whether it will be a final version of Boot Camp, or a much-rumored virtualization technology, no one knows. The holy grail would be what is suggested in the second round of fake screen shots: the ability to run Windows apps from within Leopard, either transparently, or without even having to boot the Windows OS first. This is seen as the long shot, with virtualization (like that already provided by Parallels) more likely, and Boot Camp almost certainly (unless it is replaced by something better).

The two sets of faked screen shots both suggest virtual Desktops (a feature third-party apps now provide). This probably comes from this guy’s claims of having worked with Leopard, probably fake. He claims a lot of stuff, but mostly techie-oriented and unimaginative minor stuff (speed bumps, minor app reworks, etc.). And his multiple “Finder window” rumor may be erroneously based on this report based on Apple patent filing suggesting “multiple Finder window selects,” which is not about multiple Finders (Desktops), but about selecting icons in more than one open window at a time.

However, the iTunes theme is widely accepted as inevitable, as is the Address Book-iCal merger.

So what else? According to LoopRumors from last Fall, Leopard will include:

  • Window transparency (though this seems to “Vista-ish”)
  • Animated icons with sounds, maybe only in the Dock
  • Better Dashboard implementation (faster loading, using less RAM)
  • Applications running in Full-screen mode, or as Desktop pictures

Add to that a fixed Finder–though that also is already widely rumored. In fact, some rumors are that fixing the Finder will be a major focus in Leopard. Of course, that’s been rumored for almost every new version of OS X since it came out.

This very new report says that Apple will integrate a Google-Earth-type satellite image/road map/direction finder app into the OS. They also suggest that Boot Camp will be discarded in favor of virtualization, as reported above.

Other rumors include collaborative documents, allowing many people on different Macs connected on the Internet to make changes to a single app simultaneously. Others suggest an improvement in Boot Camp and/or virtualization allowing Vista and/or Linux to be run with Leopard as well as XP. Resolution scaling (the ability to make everything look larger without sacrificing image quality) is also being suggested. And some even suggest that Leopard will integrate BitTorrent, will use it for the iTunes Music Store and Apple Software updates–and users who donate their upstream bandwidth would get credit at the iTunes Music Store. Cool, if true (I could build up credit with my F/O), but I seriously doubt Apple has that much trouble with its own bandwidth to require such a thing. Some have also suggested that Leopard will use a completely new kernel (the core of the OS), but that is effectively being dismissed.

So a lot of rumors, but nothing at all confirmed yet. Apple might still be doing a very good job of keeping a lid on things, and we could all be surprised. But keep in mind that in the past, the reality is almost never as exciting as the rumors. Which is why so many people love the rumors…

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