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Apple Readies Search Technology For Macs

CEO Steve Jobs says the technology, called Spotlight, will be part of next year's Mac OS X upgrade and will let users easily search the contents of their computers.

Apple Computer plans to launch technology called Spotlight for searching the contents of Macintosh computers when the company releases an operating-system update next year, CEO Steve Jobs said Monday. If it works as advertised, Spotlight would deliver for Mac users capabilities similar to what Microsoft has said it plans to include in its next version of Windows--which is still several years from release. Speaking at an Apple developer conference in San Francisco, Jobs demonstrated Spotlight software, quickly scanning a Mac's hard drive for documents, E-mail messages, address book entries, and other files. The software scans an index of the contents for files with compatible formats--including Word and Excel documents, Adobe PDF and Photoshop files, and most image and movie file types--as well as "metadata" about the author or copyright holder of a document that may not appear in its contents. Apple plans to include Spotlight in version 10.4 of its Mac OS X operating system, code-named Tiger. It's due in the first half of next year.

"It's easier to fund something from among a billion Web pages with Google than it is to find something on your hard disk," Jobs said. Microsoft is working to include more natural, text-based searching of a PC's contents in its next version of Windows, code-named Longhorn, but Jobs said Apple will deliver similar functionality first. "We think we are years ahead of Longhorn," he said.

Jobs also said that half of Mac users now run OS X, and he pointed to new applications that run on the platform, including Oracle's 10g database, PeopleSoft's business apps, and Sun Microsystems' Java development tools. Other recent applications that have appeared for OS X include Microsoft Office 2004, Quark's QPS desktop publishing system, and Borland's Java development tools. Sun this week is sponsoring a Java developer conference that's being held across the street from Apple's conference.

Apple also said it will ship three new flat-panel displays this summer, including a 30-inch LCD monitor that's scheduled to go on sale in August and will be priced at $3,300.

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