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Apple Releases OS X Leopard 10.5.4 Update

Cupertino (CA) - Apple has posted the update 10.5.4 for its Mac OS X Leopard operating system. The company promises that the update delivers security, reliability and performance enhancements, as well as the code to support the upcoming MobileMe online service that is set to debut on July 11. The company also released security updates for Tiger client and server versions, as well as the Safari 3.1.2 update for Tiger.

According to Apple, the software "includes general operating system improvements that enhance the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac." The download is available through OS X’s Software Update mechanism or as a free download from Apple’s web site, weighing 88 MB for users who already run their Mac on the 10.5.3 update.

Besides 10.5.4 Leopard update, Apple has also released the Security Update 2008-004 for Mac OS X Tiger and Tiger Server (both Intel or PowerPC). These updates replicate the security fixes featured in 10.5.4 Leopard updates so that both systems are one level in terms of security. The patch includes protection against vulnerabilities in major system components, such as CoreTypes, Dock, SMB File Server, Ruby on Rails interpreter and Webkit.

Additionally, the company has updated Safari on Tiger to version 3.1.2, fixing a serious issue in the open-source WebKit browser engine that powers Safari. The problem could allow malicious JavaScript programs to allow running potentially dangerous code through the browser or crash the browser. The Leopard 10.5.4 update also addresses the same WebKit issue under Leopard. Windows XP and Vista users already have access to Safari 3.1.2 for Windows since June 19.

Plugging Leopard security holes

Leopard 10.5.4 update includes all recent security updates released between Mac OS X 10.5.3 and the new update. The 10.5.4. update resolves issues with several system and third-party applications, such as saving and re-opening Adobe Creative Suite 3 files on a remote server. It adds additional RAW image support for several digital camera models, improves L2TP VPN client reliability, solves AirPort reliability issues when on 5 GHz 802.11a and 802.11n networks and Logic Studio or MainStage problems with AirPort. The update also delivers many fixes to the system’s iCal calendaring application that is now more reliable, with several new options and user interface improvements available.

Changes to the Safari web browser address a potential performance issue when loading secure web pages or issues that may arise if a user accesses web pages with client certificates that reside on a smart card. Spaces and Exposé features that handle virtual desktops and windows management also received minor tweaks. Switching from a space with a Finder window now keeps the Finder as the active application instead of the application residing in the destination space. Also, dragging an application from the list of application assignments in the Spaces System Preferences does not assign the application to the desired space. A problem with Exposé that may result in only a subset of windows being shown is resolved as well, Apple said.

Important pre-requisite for MobileMe

Besides the regular slew of security, reliability and performance improvements, this update is widely believed to contain the code necessary to support Apple’s new MobileMe suite of online services for Mac, PC and iPhone users that will replace the aging .Mac service. Dubbed "Exchange for the rest of us", MobileMe is a $99 a year service that comes with 20 GB of storage space shared between all services, including push email, contacts, calendar and photos, web galleries and online file sharing. These services can be accessed through a Web 2.0 web interface that looks and feels like a desktop application.

MobileMe seamlessly synchronizes personal information (contacts, calendars and email from Outlook on a PC or Mail/iCal/Address Book on a Mac) between any number of PCs, Macs and iPhones so that everything is up to date, all the time. MobileMe is set to debut on July 11, the same day as iPhone 3G. Apple is already transitioning some user .Mac user accounts from its @mac.com name space to the new MobileMe @me.com name space.