Apple to Launch Leopard Oct. 26

The Cupertino, Calif.-based computer maker, which initially delayed the launch from Spring until October, said Mac OS X 10.5 would go on sale at 6 p.m. on that day.

"Leopard, the sixth major release of Mac OS X, is the best upgrade we've ever released," Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, said in a statement. The OS was priced at $129, Apple said.

At the same time, Apple announced Mac OS X Leopard Server, with features including "Podcast Producer" -- which permits the publishing of podcasts to Apple's iTunes service. The company said Leopard Server would also automatically configure "client applicaitons, including file sharing, Mail, iChat, iCal, Address Book and VPN from user information stored on the server."

Some Apple solution providers have said that advances included in Leopard Server, including improvements to iCal, would allow them to offer a viable alternative on the Mac platform to Microsoft Exchange. Apple said it was pricing Leopard Server at $499 for a 10-client edition and $999 for unlimited clients. The unlimated client version also comes with Xserve rack-mount server hardware, Apple said.

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The launch of Leopard will cap a frenzied year of product launches for Apple, which has included the iPhone and several new models of Apple iPods.