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Mac OS X 10.5 goes GM, launch date confirmed

The next version of Apple's Mac OS X operating system goes on sale on Friday 26 September
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Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard (opens in new tab) - Apple (opens in new tab)'s answer to Microsoft Vista (opens in new tab) - will finally go on sale on Friday 26 October as expected.

Apple allegedly declared the latest build Gold Master last Friday, and has told Apple Store employees that it needs "all hands on deck" for the forthcoming launch, Loop Rumors says.

Max OS X 10.5 Leopard is the first update to the operating system that runs on many Mac laptops and desktops since Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger arrived in May 2005. Both the iPhone (opens in new tab) and iPod touch (opens in new tab) are also said to run full versions of Mac OS X, and already use some key Leopard components.

Leopard will introduce over 300 new features to Mac users.

Highlights include:

Desktop (opens in new tab): features a new Vista-style translucent menu bar, a revamped Dock and Stacks - a viewing system that makes it easy to sort through a collection of files, folders and apps.

Finder (opens in new tab): Apple's oft-criticised file organisation system finally gets a revamp. New goodies include a Cover Flow style file view borrowed from iTunes (opens in new tab) and an improved version of Apple's desktop search system dubbed Spotlight.

Quick Look (opens in new tab): enables you to see the contents of a file or folder before you open it. Microsoft Windows users have had something similar for a while, but Quick Look goes much, much further.

Time Machine (opens in new tab): an automated backup and restore program.

Spaces (opens in new tab): a virtual desktop system that enables you to run up to 16 different workspaces. This is handy for keeping your work, personal and leisure apps and files separate from each other

Mail (opens in new tab): Apple's email client has personalised stationery, to-dos and proper synchronisation with iCal - Apple's calendar

iChat (opens in new tab): Apple's Instant Message (IM) client now gives you funky backgrounds, and the ability to show and discuss documents with friends and colleagues.