Mac OS X Leopard 10.5 - a May 2007 release?

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By: switchtoamac at: 11:53 AM on March 15, 2007 | Comments (33)
As a followup to yesterday's post about the Mac OS X 10.4.9 update, we indicated that we would put forth our prediction of when Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard would likely be released by Apple.  This post provides a prediction

Key Facts and Items

  • At WWDC 2006 (August 2006) Steve Jobs announced a "Spring 2007" Leopard release
  • Apple executives continue to highlight a "Spring 2007" release
  • The latest Leopard Build (9A377a) was released to Apple Developer Connection members on March 4, 2007 - buzz in the Apple community is that the release is far from stable and not ready for release
  • Steve Jobs's WWDC speech indicated Leopard had several "Top Secret Features" that could not be announced until a later date
  • Macworld 2007 (January 2007) didn't disclose any "Top Secret Features"
  • No details of any top secret features have emerged since then
  • Mac OS X 10.4.9 Tiger has been released

Now let's analyze the initial release dates of Jaguar, Panther, and Tiger with respect to the prior OS:

As you can see, I have not filled in March 13, 2007 as the last release of Tiger because we don't know if it is.  Note however that the likelihood is quite high given Apple's Mac OS X release history as charted here and no prior Mac OS X update has had a version number higher than 10.x.9.  Is easy to observe that the last update to a current Mac OS X version has been released prior to the release of a new version.  Also observe that the gap between the last revision of a current and new operating system has shrunk for the past three Mac OS X releases.  If Leopard were to follow the same number of days between Panther and Tiger then Leopard would be released on March 27, 14 days after Tiger 10.4.9.  I don't have any confidence in such an early release date.

Key Dates for 2007
  • Spring 2007: begins March 21, 2007
  • Summer 2007: begins June 21, 2007
  • Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC): June 11 through June 15

So Leopard will be released sometime between March 21 and June 20.  Note that WWDC 2007 occurs in Spring and that Apple would be well within the "Spring 2007" timeframe if it released Leopard during WWDC.  I don't think such a move would be strategic because it would be in the best interest of Apple, the Apple community, and Apple investors to allow the Mac user base to have "hands on" experience prior to WWWDC.  Familiarity with Leopard going into WWDC 2007 will maximize the usefulness of the event.  Besides, what good would the Leopard Session Tracks be without people having some idea, knowledge, and questions about the the features and technologies in Leopard?  Therefore, by releasing Leopard ahead of WWDC, it would allow Mac users, developers, the press, and others to get familiar with Leopard prior to WWDC so that the "Leopard Tracks" can be that much more useful.

Leopard Books - The Best Indicators?
Do upcoming Leopard books give the best indication of Leopard's release date?  Take a look at the following publication dates (in parenthesis) for upcoming Leopard books as listed by

Tiger Books as a comparison

The first Tiger Books had publication dates prior to Tiger's release date.  Mac OS X Tiger was released on April 29, 2005.  Take a look at the following Tiger books and their respective publication dates:
  • Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger: Peachpit Learning Series - (April 21, 2005)
  • Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger Visual QuickStart Guide - (April 26, 2005)
Many will recall that when Mac OS X Tiger was available for purchase on April 29, 2005, many retailers had these two books available for purchase.  The books had publication dates prior to the actual Tiger release date because they simply had to be published before Tiger was first available for purchase.  Now looking at Leopard, the earliest publication date for any Leopard book as cited by Amazon is May 1, 2007.  The next cited date is May 21, 2007.

Jaguar, Panther, and Tiger were all released on a Friday but Puma was released on Tuesday.  Leopard may follow the pattern of the prior three releases and pounce out of Cupertino on a Friday or, Apple may end up releasing it on a Tuesday as it did with Puma.  Taking all factors as described in this post into consideration I expect a Leopard release to be:
  • Prior to WWDC
  • On a Friday or Tuesday
  • Released in May 2007
Therefore, the three most likely dates are:
  • Friday May 4, 2007
  • Tuesday May 8, 2007
  • Friday May 11, 2007

If I had to choose one of the three dates, I'd give the edge to Friday May 11, 2007.

Don't forget about the iPhone

There's one more item to take into consideration ... iPhone.  Apple indicated that it would be available in June and WWDC 2007 would be the ideal venue to announce it's availability.  People will finally be able to touch and feel the iPhone instead of looking at it in a glass enclosure.  I expect that Apple will announce a series of iPhone sessions prior to the start of WWDC with the goal to demonstrate the interoperability between the iPhone and Leopard.

33 Reader Comments

I work for Apple. You have researched this very well. ;-P

Lol good try

My birthday is May 4th, that would be a nice present. Personally though my gut tells me April 27th for one reason or another, which I'm too lazy to go into right now.

My birthday is also May 4th, so let's make it then. Hoorah.

nahh..i think may 11th is a better day...thats MY birthday :-D

Just as a side note, I would NEVER buy a book titled "Teach Yourself VISUALLY Mac OS X Leopard" with what seems like a picture of Microsoft Office for WINDOWS on the cover. That's about as genius as those Microsoft ads that show unbranded MacBooks in their Vista ads...

My birthday's on May 21st, but I'll take a gift before that ;)

June 8th.

The Friday before the WWDC.
That'd give everyone three full days to play with it beforehand.

I don't think we'll be given a whole month to let the 'wow' wear off before the conference.

who's mac.

My Birthday is on the 11th! Would be great if it was released then :)

Does this mean that the authors of "The Missing manual" have had a heads up from Apple about the "Top Secret" features?

I would think that it would be very difficult to compile any sort of comprehensive Leopard guide without a detailed knowledge of what those features might be.

Tiger, on the other hand, we all knew what would be on offer when it hit the shelves.

Ben ... three words for you ... Non Disclosure Agreement

Na... Can't be May 4th. That's Star Wars day. May the 4th be with you.

May the 4th be with you! - A good, but very very cheesy marketing link into the Time Machine features, perhaps?

An NDA would answer half my question, but unless Apple "launch" Leopard at the end of April with availability in early May.

You wouldn't want your customers to pick up a book giving away all the "Top Secret" features before you launch the product.

Fantastic dissertation! We've entered you in the professional division of OS X Leopard Release Date Prediction Tracker where we're tracking all of the expert and amateur predictions.

Developers have had a _lot_ of time to play with Leopard already. WWDC is *not* for consumers. There's no reason to release it before WWDC because of _that_, then. That said, Apple released Tiger a bit more than a month before WWDC 2005 and did _not_ tell any details about Leopard at WWDC 2005. I guess we'll see something similar this year. However: Your logic is still faulty.

I side with you on a Friday, but I'm betting on the 25th. All major Mac OS X versions have been released between the 24th and the 29th of the month. Given the current state of the developer releases (at least the rumors thereof) I don't think there is any chance of an RC or GM release in April. So those will only surface in the first half of May at best. Then it takes 2 more weeks to produce the official release. On Friday, May 25th 2007. Which still leaves more than 2 weeks for hands-on experience before the start of WWDC. Also sprach Zarathustra... ;-)

This reminds me of the book 88 Reasons Why Jesus Will Return in 1988, but I hope you are right.

Friday, May 25th 2007 sound right to me. Two weeks is enough for the developers to look at it and most of the Mac books fall around that date.

Apple could have an event in the end of April or early May to announce the top secret features and to announce the real ship date. That would allow for the sale of Leopard books beginning May 1. (Of course, the Leopard book would be pushed back until such an event occurs.)

I'd say an Apple event on May 1, and actual release on May 25.

In terms of books, Andy Ihnakto, author of one of the books, has said that he's under the gun, and only has the same copy that's floating around out there. So, the book reviewer's haven't gotten a super-secret build.

I'm just doubtful from what I have read from all of the people installed the latest release. They seem to be saying that there are a lot of bugs to work out...and Mac seems to be so much better at working out the bugs before they ship than Microsoft. There really is no rush for it to come out...and I think that it may be pushed back to be closer to Adobe CS2 and or MS office maybe. Once this new OS comes out AND they have the full line of apps, it will be something to cheer about.

I don't understand how those "missing manual" books can already be in production (bearing in mind they have to be sent to the printers about a month in advance).

If the OS is unfinished, and may even be getting a new UI look to it, how can they have accurate screenshots and a workflow descriptions ready?

Surely Apple wouldn't give the book authors more advanced builds (with secret features and theme redesign) than developers?

It's not necessary true. It takes 4/5 days to print and bind a book and a week to distribute it everywhere. They probably will start distributing a small batch anyway.

May 10th at 08.07PM, because in European time format that would be:

After reading all this, I have 3 questions:

1. People reading and/or writing about the release date of an OS that has 2% or so of the world computers are considering fanatics? (in my school, in the south of Brasil, I am the only one that uses Mac; the school has around 1300 students and around 90 teachers)

2. How would we call them if were about Windows?

3. When will a DB (flat or relational) be added to the iWork suite? (since Apple said that they were building the substitute of AppleWorks suite)

I will appreciate your comments!

Jorge Lucas

I'm the author of one of the Tiger books you listed. Mine hit the stores the same day as Tiger, which was a GOOD thing. :-)

For the record, although I'm working with a Leopard beta, I have absolutely no idea when Leopard will be released. Apple has decided not to clue in the authors on the secret features -- at least they haven't clued ME in on them. (Although if they did, I wouldn't release any of the secrets; that's Apple author suicide.)

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I wouldn't use any of those book dates to estimate a Leopard release. Publishers release book dates to keep retailers happy; they're seldom exact. If I had a date, I wouldn't be reading blog posts that publish estimated dates, looking for the answer I don't have.

But I did enjoy your post. Thanks!

How about May 10th instead? OS X 10.5 on 5/10 :)

Why would there be any iPhone sessions at WWDC? It's not open for development.

I'd second Maria's caution not to read *anything* into projected publication dates for books on Amazon. Not only are these projected publication dates on Amazon rarely accurate or up to date -- the Missing Manual's May 1 date could well be an editor's original optimistic forecast from over a year ago -- but any publishers that truly do have any inside knowledge are under ultra-strict NDAs with Apple and often post artificially late publication dates that reflect Apple's public statements (June 21, the official publication date of Maria's Leopard book, just so happens to be the very last day of "Spring").

cool theory.

And, of course, intersting comments. It was great reading this.

Do you know how often the release of leopard was predicted since January? Well, many times, so often, i stopped believing in anything, but I can't stop looking for the next great rumors and the even better researched evidences.

I gotta confess, some get really close (8 core Mac Pro for example), but when I compare the rumors to the real release dates I learned one thing:


Apple website has been updated and now says "Coming October 2007" if you've been holding off to get a mac book till Leopard, just forget it and pay the extra for the upgrades in October.

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