A 'Spot'-light on What Leopard's Top Secret Feature May Be
Could this be the big cat that Steve Jobs lets out of the bag this year?

by Joe Leo, Columnist January 4, 2007

OPINION: (1.04.07)-- In the lead-up to Macworld 2007, there are numerous rumors floating around in regard to products that Apple will announce and reveal to the world. But there's one thing on this columnist's mind in regard to one announcement--the next version of Mac OS X--that we don't see mentioned anywhere among the Mac-centric news/rumor sites on the web.

And we said yesterday that PBCentral.com isn't a rumor site! (Well, it isn't).

Since the next version of Mac OS X, code-named "Leopard," is not a surprise--after all, it's available for all to take a look at on Apple's website and was previewed by Steve Jobs last summer--not too much attention is being placed, in our opinion, on what announcements will come next week in regard to the updated OS. Plus, it's already been announced that it's supposed to be released this Spring, so what else is there to say?

You may remember that when Leopard was previewed to developers at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2006) by Jobs in August of last year, most of Mac OS X's improvements and new "spots" (features) were pretty much revealed. Things such as "Time Machine," 64-bit support, Boot Camp becoming part of the package, and a technology called Core Animation (as reported by Macworld magazine).

Jobs told everyone in attendance that some features were going to be kept secret until Macworld 2007. And therein, lies the big cat just waiting to pounce! and we're surprised there isn't more discussion about it in the run-up to the Keynote at Macworld 2007 next week.

One of the big discussions going around the web over the summer was that maybe one of Leopard's secrets would be built-in virtualization for Windows. Not a bad idea, and we kind of like it. But if they do that, what happens to the "Parallels" software that Apple strongly recommends, even over their own Boot Camp software? (since Boot Camp requires you to choose Windows as your startup volume, outside of Mac OS X).

Unless, Apple has somehow teamed up with the software company and struck some kind of deal which will make the "Parallels" software a part of Mac OS X under the Boot Camp name.

Or quietly bought the company--which would not be that far off--as Apple has bought software companies in the past. Wasn't it Steve Jobs himself who bought out his own company (well, not really, but hopefully you get the idea), NeXT in order to create Mac OS X in the first place? [For more on NeXT, click on this Wikipedia link].

Days after WWDC 2006, AppleInsider.com posted some of the rumored leaked features that Leopard would have, to which we found nothing really special. Rumor site LoopRumors.com also had an extensive analysis of what they thought Leopard would bring, and later in October posted five possible new features that they obtained from "reliable and accurate" sources, ones which we found more interesting to read.

The one rumor that really caught our eye was LoopRumors.com's report that "simultaneous operating systems" would be a possible feature in Leopard, one that would allow, "an option for 'Windows' under fast user switching." (Fast user switching in the current sense is being able to switch between user accounts in Mac OS X with everything in place--such as applications, etc.--and not having to log out and start over).

Having this user switching feature between both operating systems would allow Mac users to run Windows natively at the same time they're using OS X, since they wouldn't have to shut down the computer, boot up in Windows, and then if they wanted to go back to OS X, shut down again, etc. (This is not the same process as virtualization software, such as the previously mentioned Parallels).

That got our brain cells moving, and here's what we personally think. And don't fall out of your seats when you read it.

What if on Tuesday of next week, Steve Jobs (assuming he's there and we hope he is!) ups the ante by dropping their own ball for the New Year--making January 9th, 2007 the real beginning, the year of the Mac--and irrevocably re-writes the beginning of time by announcing that the top secret feature of Mac OS X, version 10.5 is...?

What if Leopard's biggest unannounced feature is...? What if Apple finally decided to make...?

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