Apple Computer co-founder Steve Jobs used his keynote address at Seybold yesterday to talk up new features in the upcoming Mac OS 8.5 and Mac OS X operating systems, and other new products.
Apple's interim CEO also played host to the first public demonstration of a new page layout application from Adobe Systems, codenamed K2, and announced a new version of Apple's WebObjects development environment. He also talked about price cuts on products for home and professional users.
Due in October, Mac 0S 8.5 includes four new key features that make it "a must have upgrade," Jobs said.
A new search feature called Sherlock allows users to search the World Wide Web using several popular search engines simultaneously with a single search entry, Jobs said. Sherlock also acts as a search engine of a system's hard drive and LAN servers, he said.
Mac OS 8.5 includes native support for AppleScript -- a technology that allows users to automate tasks, such network printing or file exchange, using multiple applications -- and as a result runs five times faster, Jobs said.
"Almost everything in the OS has been made scriptable," he said, including functions such as printing and applications like Adobe's PhotoShop and Quark's QuarkXPress.
Mac OS 8.5 will also allow users to copy files more quickly over a LAN and over the Internet, and includes improved ColorSync features that provide greater uniformity in color when switching files between graphics applications, he said.
Used with Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, Mac OS 8.5 will also render Japanese fonts in Japanese Web pages, he said.
In his trademark jeans and black polo shirt, a characteristically upbeat Jobs said Apple has the financial strength to invest in products for the future and to assure users the company will be around in 10 years time.
"What a difference a year makes," he said.
As of today, Jobs said, Apple has cut the price of its Powerbook G3 with a 14-inch monitor to $US2,799, bringing it into line with a comparable product from Dell Computer and making it one of the lowest-priced 14-inch notebooks on the market, he said.
The company also has added 512K-bytes of backside cache to the system, and has eliminated the Powerbook G3 version that sported a 13 inch monitor, leaving just the 12-inch and 14-inch models, he said.
Jobs also demonstrated a future incarnation of the company's high-end G3 Powerbook that will support DVD video playback. The application includes a silver-colored, futuristic "remote control" that can be moved around the screen using a mouse as the DVD movie plays.
"This is now the coolest way to watch movies on airplanes," Jobs said.
Jobs gave an update on Mac OS X, a hybrid operating system due in the fourth quarter of 1999 that combines elements of Mac OS 8 and the Rhapsody operating systems. The new OS will include "full protective memory, advanced virtual memory, multithreading, preemptive multitasking, fast file I/O," Jobs said.
In a preview demonstration of Mac OS X, he told a responsive Seybold crowd that they will no longer have to reboot a Macintosh system just because a single application crashes -- a long-standing criticism of the Macintosh platform.
When one of several applications running in the demonstration was made to crash, an error message popped up that read, "The application BOMB has unexpectedly quit. You do NOT have to reboot your computer."
He downplayed the work that software developers must do to retune applications built for Mac OS 8 in order to get them to run on Mac OS X. Jobs was joined on stage by executives from Adobe Systems, Quark and Macromedia, who said they were porting their key applications to the forthcoming platform.
To demonstrate the operating system's multitasking capabilities Jobs introduced what he said is the first public demonstration of Macromedia's forthcoming Freehand 8 application. Freehand 8 was run while a Quicktime video clip played simultaneously in the background.
For his finale, Jobs introduced a technician from Adobe to demonstrate "a new paradigm in page layout applications," codenamed K2. The application will greatly improve a user's ability to manipulate text and images, providing more capabilities to lay images and text on top of each other and then manipulate each separately, the engineer said.
The new application will run on Mac OS 8.5 and Mac OS X, Jobs said. No release date was given.
Jobs also announced a new version of WebObjects, an development environment used by businesses to build interactive Web sites. Version 4.0 includes support for Java, allowing a company to build a Web page that emits Java Applets, he said. To be available for Mac OS X and available now for Windows NT and Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris, Apple has also cut the price of the application, to $1,499 for a deployment license.
Apple, based in Cupertino, California, can be reached at +1-408-996-1010 or at http://www.apple.com/.