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Lion preview focuses on user interface, but not a peep about a server version

Friday, October 22, 2010

Apple made no mention of a server version of Mac OS X 10.7, nicknamed "Lion," when it announced its next OS this week. In its announcement, Apple focused on user interface enhancements most of which originated on the iPhone and iPad. Apple said that Lion would ship in the summer of 2011.

The absence of any mention of a server in an OS announcement is unusual for Apple. For instance, when Apple announced Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, the company also announced that it would ship Snow Leopard Server at the same time. Both benefited from speed improvements and technologies such as full-64-bit support. Although Apple touted most of Snow Leopard’s improvements as "under-the-hood," both the client and server included new features. For the client, Snow Leopard client added built-in support of Microsoft Exchange Server. The Server added a new Address Book Server and a new version of iCal Server, among other improvements.

One announced feature of Snow Leopard Server, support of the "modern" file system, ZFS, was dropped a few months before Apple shipped the server. It seems unlikely that a Lion Server would include ZFS, however. At the time, speculation was that ZFS issue was one of licensing rather than technology. ZFS was the creation of Sun, which has since been acquired by Oracle, which, in turn, is more interested in another similar file system, BtrFS. Apple hasn’t shown any interested in the latter at this point.

Mac OS X Server’s management software, Server Preferences and Server Admin, are due for an overhaul. Server Preferences is too limited for most tasks, and Server Admin is showing it’s age. Apple might be able to take advantage of some of Lion’s iOS-like features here.

But so far, mum’s the word on whether we’ll see a Lion Server next summer.

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