Apple pins April 29 date on Tiger's tail

Desktop and server versions of Mac OS X 10.4 will be ready later this month, the Mac maker says.

The Tiger is almost out of the bag.

Apple Computer said Tuesday that the updated desktop and server versions of its operating system, dubbed Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, will be available April 29. Until now, Apple had said only that the upgrade would be ready in the first half of this year.

blog is
offering a $35 rebate
to those who buy
the OS by May 31.

Eager Mac customers can get their hands on Tiger at 6 p.m. April 29 at Apple retail stores, where the company will host events for the release.

Additionally, customers can now preorder Tiger from Apple stores.

The desktop edition will cost $129 for a single-user license. A $199 license for a single residence, called the Mac OS X Tiger Family pack, will cover five users. Apple is also selling a software bundle on its online store that combines Tiger, iLife and iWork for $249, a savings of roughly $50.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs touted the security and search features of the desktop operating system.

"Tiger's groundbreaking new features, like Spotlight and Dashboard, will change the way people use their computers, and drive our competitors nuts trying to copy them," Jobs said in a statement.

In addition to Spotlight, which adds a unified search engine to the OS, and Dashboard, which offers one-click access to a host of small applications, Apple is adding a new version of its Safari browser with a built-in newsreader for RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, feeds.

Tiger is the latest in a string of new operating systems from Apple. It's the fourth major update to Mac OS X since the first iteration of the Unix-based OS debuted in 2001. By contrast, chief rival Microsoft has shipped only one major desktop release--Windows XP--in that time, though it has also added specialized versions for media centers and tablet computers, as well as the Security Pack 2 security enhancements.

A top Apple executive did say last year that the pace of future upgrades would slow somewhat. The Mac maker has not talked about its plans for releases beyond Tiger.

Apple also detailed the planned features for the Unix-based server edition of Tiger, including support for 64-bit processors and the iChat Server for instant messaging.

The server edition, which will bundle about 200 open-source software components, will include a Web log program as well as grid software for high-end computing, Apple said.

The server edition will cost $499 for a 10-client license and $999 for an unlimited-client edition. As with the desktop edition, customers can now preorder the server product.

Desktop systems will require a minimum of 256MB of memory with a G5, G4 or G3 processor and built-in FireWire. The server edition will require at least 4GB of hard drive space.

Microsoft is expected to release a beta version of the Longhorn edition of Windows in June. Microsoft originally had planned to include new search features in Longhorn based on a new file system, called WinFS. But it has pushed back delivery of WinFS to 2007, at the earliest.

Longhorn is expected to include other new search features, however. An updated preview version of the operating system is expected later this month.

A final desktop version of Longhorn, which will also sport a new user interface and a Web-services-based communications system, is slated for completion next year.

Piper Jaffray research analyst Gene Munster said Tiger's release could help Apple's finances in the current third quarter. He noted that there will be two full months of Tiger shipments in the June quarter and that Apple got $50 million from two months of sales in its initial quarter of Mac OS X 10.3 Panther shipments.

"Based on Tiger shipment timing, we believe our June quarter software segment estimate is too low, and we will likely need to add around 2 percent to our overall Apple revenue estimate for June," Munster said in a research note on Tuesday. The Mac maker plans to report its March quarter earnings and issue its forecast for the June quarter after the close of trading on Wednesday.'s Ina Fried contributed to this report.

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