The Manager, TSU, recently returned from San Francisco where he attended Apple Computer's World Wide Developers' Conference. WWDC is held every year, usually in May in San Jose, but this year the Conference was delayed a month (and moved to San Francisco) to accommodate some announcements on the next generation hardware and the upcoming release of the next version of the Macintosh operating system, code named Panther.
Apple and IBM have collaborated on a new IBM chip to be at the heart of new Macintosh computers, the G5. This 64-bit chip is a new generation of microprocessor and promises significant increases in the power of the Macintosh at similar costs to the existing G4-based computers. The new computers are expected to be available in August.
The next revision of the Macintosh operating system, Panther, is due by the end of this year. Beta versions of the desktop and server versions of Panther were distributed to attendees at the conference, and the features of the new release were demonstrated in a number of the conference sessions. There are a number of features in the new release which will make it easier for us to use this next version on the Macintosh computers in the Division.
At the Conference Apple also announced its approach to videoconferencing with the release of a beta version of an audio and video enabled chat application, iChat AV, and a new videoconferencing camera, the iSight. One of the highlights of the keynote address was the announcement that every attendee would receive a free iSight after the session.
While in typical Apple fashion iChat AV and iSight are ground-breaking and attractive, they support emerging, open-standards-based protocols rather than the proprietary "standards" used today by existing videoconferencing products based on H.323 standards. Having said that, it is likely that third party developers can adapt the new camera to fit into the H.323 environment, and indeed there are already a number of products around integrating the Macintosh into the "old" standards.