Mac OS X 10.3, codenamed 'Panther', is on the verge of reaching its first major milestone, Apple has told developers.
The company yesterday said the operating system was "fast approaching first candidate release", according to a Think Secret report. The claim was made as Apple made the latest beta test build available to software authors.
First candidate status effectively marks the end of the beta test period and the commencement of final testing. The OS' feature set should be frozen at that point. The software may go through a number of release candidates before being declared sufficiently stable to become gold master - code for 'ready to ship'.
Think Secret notes that some major glitches remain to be ironed out, such as 12in PowerBook G4 screens not waking from sleep, and notes a number of other changes made to the latest build.
News of the proximity of final release candidate status should please Mac fans keen to get their hands on Panther sooner than later. Apple's official release schedule remains "by the end of the year".
That said, there's still some way to go before the OS is considered ready to ship. Apple is likely to release Mac OS X 10.2.7 for non-G5 systems before that happens, possible in a couple of weeks during CEO Steve Jobs' Apple Expo Paris keynote. Mac OS X 10.2.7 is already shipping with the Power Mac G5 - or at least the small number that have made it to market. ®