Apple dealers are polishing their stores for Friday’s release of the latest versions of the Macintosh OS X desktop and server editions.

Known by its code name, “Tiger,” and more formally as version 10.4 of the operating system, resellers have big hopes it will be a major source of revenue

in upgrades.

“It will be good for business,” said Gord McOrmond of Vancouver’s Simply Computing, an Apple VAR which also has stores in Langley and Kelowna, B.C.

“They (Apple) are not letting us sell it until after 6 p.m., so all of our stores will stay open an extra hour,” he said. “One of our stores is holding a ‘Tiger’ party for a user group.”

“It’s a pretty big occasion in the Mac world. It’s an exciting product. It seems its probably going to be bigger than the Panther (release) was.”

In fact, the Vancouver store had several dozen pre-orders for both the desktop and server versions after being listed in its computer for only a few days, he said.

“I suspect it’ll sell very well,” agreed Tom Shepherd, president of Creative Technology in Burlington, Ont. Creative also has an office in Toronto which focuses on business sales, almost exclusively to ad agencies and graphics departments of large companies.

“Based on pre-orders we’ve had it’s going to be quite a successful launch,” he said.

“We think it will be the most successful operating system launch ever,” said Willi Powell, Apple Canada’s strategy development manager.

Features in the new $149 client version being touted by Apple include:

– Spotlight, a search engine which can do word searches within a hard-drive’s files, including e-mail. Spotlight technology can be added by ISVs to their applications;

– Dashboard, which creates desktop icons called “widgets” to give users popup access to information such as stock quotes, calculators, sticky notes. Tigers ships with 14 widgets, and Apple is asking ISVs to create more;

– Mail 2, an updated e-mail program has enhanced HTML rendering;

– the Safari browser has been upgraded to support RSS feeds for automatic delivery of content to the desktop;

– iChat has been boosted to allow up to 10 person audio- and four person videoconferencing. It also supports the H.264 video codec for better picture quality.

Tiger requires 256MB of memory and can run on any G3, G4 or G5 processor.

OS X Server 10.4 will support 64-bit applications, a new iChat Server for deploying secure instant messaging, and a Weblog Server.

It also gives administrators support for Access Control lists as well as native file permissions for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 Active Directory environments.

A 10-user edition of Server 10.4 costs $599, while an unlimited user versions costs $1.199.

Powell also said that the next major upgrades to the operating system will be a little slower in coming. For OS X they’ve been appearing every year, but the company will spread them out “because customers are saying ‘You’re killing us,’”

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