Jobs began the week-long conference with a "fireside chat," complete with a video projection of a stone fireplace with flames roaring and crackling. When the doors opened to admit the audience into the conference hall, the Apple faithful stampeded toward the front to get a close-up view of the Mac luminary and see what surprises he had in store. Jobs often uses the annual conference to discuss the future of the Mac OS and announce new products.
While he made no huge announcements, Jobs divulged several smaller but important tidbits. For example, Apple is preinstalling Mac OS X on all its systems sooner than anticipated. Jobs said all units now will ship with both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X installed. Mac OS 9 is set as the default, but you can change that if you wish to use OS X as your main system. Apple had originally projected the new OS, which was released 24vMarch, wouldn't ship with new systems until July.
On a mission to sell Macs
Beyond the products announcements, the conference is really a pep rally for Mac developers, and Jobs and his crew pushed the new operating system hard. Mac OS X is a completely new build with a Unix base. Fans and developers have criticized the system's speed, while users are holding back because of a lack of applications that take advantage of the OS's new capabilities.
"We know Mac OS X is not perfect," Jobs admitted. "But we think it is a tremendous start." He emphasized the OS is the basis for Mac development for the next 15 years, and said the company will continue to improve it.
Jobs also showed a video of this weekend's opening of Apple's first two stores in McClean, Virginia, and Glendale, California. In two days, the stores hosted 7700 customers combined, Jobs says. The stores, along with 23 other planned locations, are an effort to expand the Mac OS's user base, Jobs says. The Mac currently accounts for only 5 percent of computers.
Apple's senior vice president of software engineering Avi Tevarian took the stage after Jobs to delve into more technical issues concerning the conference and announced Mac OS X Server version 10.0, the first full revision of Apple's server platform since it was introduced in 1999. The new version includes the Aqua interface used in the desktop version of Mac OS X and an updated version of NetBoot, the systems desktop management software.