Mac OS X Unfolds
By 2000, Apple was ready to release Mac OS X as a public beta for $20. The release was definitely for early adopters; while delivering most of the planned functionality, few applications were available to take advantage of the new system's features, and the system ran far slower than Mac OS 9. The first release available outside the developer community, it presented Apple's boldest attempt to redraw the Mac OS interface.
Apple released a full 10.0 version in 2001. Some of the boldness was removed to provide greater familiarity among Mac users. The Apple logo in the menu bar returned to the left as a drop down menu for system functions. In the public beta, the icon was just a nonfunctional decoration centered in middle of the menu bar.
Within the year a faster 10.1 version was distributed as a free update to existing users, and Apple began shipping it along with Mac OS 9 on all new Macs. This version finally delivered DVD playback, CD burning and better support for portable Macs.
Mac OS X was progressively moving from an early adopter product to one useful in everyday work. However quirky printing, the limited Finder and sparse native applications kept the product out of the mainstream.
In 2002 Apple released 10.2 under the name Jaguar, and stopped further new development on Mac OS 9. This release of Mac OS X finally allowed users to work exclusively in the new operating system. At MacWorld in January 2003, Apple introduced new machines that only booted Mac OS X, although they could still run classic Mac OS in the Mac OS X Classic environment. Jaguar featured significant user interface acceleration through 'Quartz Extreme', which off-loads as much of the video processing as possible to the video card. Printing was greatly improved by Apple's use of the open source CUPS printing architecture. And Apple beefed up the Finder to offer several features from Mac OS 9.
Apple announced the next major version of Mac OS X, Panther 10.3, at the summer World Wide Developer Conference, and said it would ship by the end of 2003.
In Panther, Apple again updated and refined every subsystem to bring faster speed, new and improved features and a new look consistent with their new hardware industrial design. The bright white on white appearance of Jaguar is replaced by a warmer selection of greys, and a new customizable Finder interface is woven throughout the system in save and file selection dialog boxes, making it easier for users to find and organize their files. Apple is even releasing Panther ahead of schedule, almost unheard of in an operating system release.
From the core Mach layer, published by Apple as the open source 'Darwin' project, and moving up through the BSD Unix personality, which draws upon many open source OS and software projects, Apple has adopted the NeXT philosophy of building upon existing work rather than always reinventing the wheel. Where software already exists, Apple has worked to integrate the best tools for the job. The value Apple adds comes through integration, polish, and a friendly user interface.
For more information on the new features in Mac OS X 10.3 Panther, see these articles:
Panther at your Service
Panther Server : a better NT than NT?