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Apple Steps Closer to Leopard, But The Antsy Fear Delays

Apple ships an update to the beta version of its Leopard OS. Some fear another delay. But with Mac sales stronger than ever, is Apple even worried?

The Mac Rumors site reports that "Apple has delivered a Leopard update to developers."

That would, essentially, bring it another step closer to an official launch. Right?

In the Spring, Apple said it had determined that Leopard -- the code name for the next generation of its Mac operating system -- had achieved "technological feasibility." But at the time, Apple delayed Leopard's launch to October so its engineers could finish up the iPhone.

It's not October, but the fact that Apple hasn't shipped a Gold Master version of Leopard has some people nervous that it might be running late. (In 2005, as Mac Rumors points out, Apple shipped a Gold Master about a month before it officially launched the last major Mac upgrade, "Tiger.") The site notes, "Leopard seeds have been notably absent in the past 3-4 weeks. Apple's October deadline for Leopard is quickly approaching. Leopard will need to be finalized soon to ramp up duplication and distribution for the October release timeline."

Other Apple watchers are writing about potential delays here and here.

Another blogger tries to put it into perspective:

The blogger adds, "And to the folks comparing it to Vista, it's no even close. Vista was delayed 4 years, not 6 months."

Officially, from Apple, all the market knows is that Leopard is officially slated to launch next month and that the company spent $53 million during the first nine months of the year on development of Leopard and iPhone. iPhone is now shipping.

Is Apple even in a rush to move Leopard out the door? No company likes to blow a deadline, especially a high-profile deadline. But consider that in the last quarter, after it had announced the Spring-to-October delay, Mac sales not only didn't slump, they set a quarterly record as Apple shipped 1.76 million Mac-based PCs. That marked growth of 33 percent.

There may be no Gold Master floating around, but Apple itself isn't wanting for gold.

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