WWDC may see beta debut of Mac OS X 10.6

While much of the buzz surrounding Apple's annual developer event has been about the iPhone, news reports indicate the company may also debut the newest release of its operating system at WWDC.

Hints of the next major OS upgrade first surfaced in the iPhone SDK, where Mac OS X 10.6 is reportedly referred to within the code. Additionally, Apple's invitation has dubbed this year's WWDC "a landmark event in more ways than one," suggesting that the iPhone won't be the sole topic.

Apple blog TUAW reports that a developer version of Mac OS X 10.6 may be released during WWDC. "Stability and security" seems to be the focus of this release, rather than new features as has been the case with previous major upgrades.

Using a point release to fine-tune Mac OS X is nothing new. Apple last did this with 10.1, which dramatically improved the user experience for many, and addressed issues dealing with performance.

Possibly the biggest change rumored here is a drop of PowerPC support completely. Such a change would be surprising considering that Apple switched to Intel processors less than two years ago.

Then again, news reports indicated that this switch may have been in the works for a while. AppleInsider reported in September that the Cupertino company was mulling the end of PowerPC support with 10.6 at that time.

Further reports from Ars Technica seem to confirm the above information, adding that Apple may be targeting next year's MacWorld event as the release date to the public. This would make sense: It is roughly 15 months after the release of Leopard, and matches the company's stated target of major releases every 12-18 months.

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