Apple Already Has OS X 10.9 on the Table for 2013

Pundit recalls his one-one-one briefing with SVP, Phil Schiller

In a meeting with Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing, pundit John Gruber learned Apple was going to refresh OS X annually, as opposed to once every two years, as until now.

As Gruber writes, “Schiller tells me they’re doing some things differently now.”

Apple’s Phil Schiller held a briefing with Gruber to show him OS X Mountain Lion, the next major version of the company’s desktop operating system.

Schiller did the same with a handful of other high-profile journalists and tech bloggers who are now free to disclose the purpose of the briefing.

Gruber, for his part, was more intrigued by Apple switching from its modus operandi of showcasing the next OS X at WWDC, rather than Mountain Lion itself. The briefing was like a one-to-one at the Apple Store, going by Gruber’s description.

Among the interesting tidbits he notes, this one in particular indirectly confirmed that Apple would have an OS X 10.9 ready for next year:

“And then the reveal: Mac OS X — sorry, OS X — is going on an iOS-esque one-major-update-per-year development schedule. This year’s update is scheduled for release in the summer, and is ready now for a developer preview release. Its name is Mountain Lion.”

Gruber opines that “Apple didn’t want to hold an event to announce Mountain Lion because those press events are precious.”

An expert in Apple affairs, Gruber appropriately points out that “They [Apple] just used one for the iBooks/education thing, and they’re almost certainly on the cusp of holding a major one for the iPad. They don’t want to wait to release the Mountain Lion preview because they want to give Mac developers months of time to adopt new APIs and to help Apple shake out bugs.”

“So: an announcement without an event. But they don’t want Mountain Lion to go unheralded. They are keenly aware that many observers suspect or at least worry that the Mac is on the wane, relegated to the sideline in favor of the new and sensationally popular iPad,” he adds.

Tim Cook himself noted at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference that the Mac wasn’t going anywhere, and that it was still a major focus within the company.

“Thus, these private briefings. Not merely to explain what Mountain Lion is — that could just as easily be done with a website or PDF feature guide — but to convey that the Mac and OS X remain both important and the subject of the company’s attention,” continues Gruber.

“The move to a roughly annual release cycle, to me, suggests that Apple is attempting to prove itself a walk-and-chew-gum-at-the-same-time company.”

He adds that, “Putting both iOS and OS X on an annual release schedule is a sign that Apple is confident it no longer needs to make […] tradeoffs in engineering resources.”

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