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Industry Anticipates Mac OS X Roll Out

Sep 13, 2000, 12:48 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Carol King)

By Carol King, internetnews.com

By all reports, Apple CEO Steve Jobs still plans to introduce the long-awaited beta release of the Mac OS X (X as in the Roman numeral for 10) Wednesday at Apple Expo in Paris, holding true to an announcement he made a few weeks back at Seybold in San Francisco.

According to sources interviewed by Internetnews.com, the move will be a good one.

"Apple is delivering a work in progress to the Mac-user community," noted Andrew Stone, CEO of Stone Design, which has created software for the Mac OS X as well as the OS X server.

"Prior to the beta release, bugs were obviously fixed. Speed was a huge concern. Now, showing the beta to the larger Mac community presents the opportunity to get user feedback to make further improvements," Stone added. "Ultimately, the product will evolve into the golden master."

Stone added that the system's core open-source technology (referred to as Darwin) will allow users to fix low-level problems themselves.

According to product literature released by Apple, the company began two design goals for its new user interface, Aqua: create an operating system that's appealing to look at, and make it a pleasure to use.

To ensure a gentle transition process from the Mac OS 9.x, Mac OS X supports three ways of running applications: as-is, optimized and next-generation. The three environments are called Classic, Carbon and Cocoa.

According to Apple, "Classic lets you run all your existing Macintosh applications. Your old apps will run as they do on Mac OS 9, but won't take advantage of Mac OS X's state-of-the-art plumbing and the Aqua interface components. This year, Apple and its partners will be "Carbonizing" applications to ready them for Mac OS X, as well as writing new applications in the Cocoa environment."

The company also boasts a sharp display and "stunning" graphics. Mac OS X combines three layers: Quartz (based on the Internet-standard portable document format), QuickTime and OpenGL.

One of the great features on the product is a protected memory that saves information from loss or corruption, according to Wil Shipley, president of The Omni Group. "We released OmniWeb 3.0, which is the only native web browser for Mac OS X Server and Mac OS X, and the only web browser on any platform that is truly multi-threaded.

"The new system provides is speed and stability because it is based on a stable Unix system," Shipley noted. "For the end user, this is a machine that is cleaner, prettier, faster and doesn't crash."

An additional feature includes virtual memory manager to handle protected memory space. "This way you no longer have to worry about how much memory an application like Photoshop needs to open the files," according to Apple.

Voget Selbach Enterprises GmbH (VSE), a German based corporation with a mission to provide useful, easy-to-use and affordable software for the Macintosh platform, has high expectations for the product.

"We expect more stability, better multitasking and more customer support since some people might now realize this is a beta product and therefore will probably have some bugs," noted Johannes Selbach, co-founder of VSE. "We also expect special Mac OSX versions of all popular applications. We will release Mac OS X versions of our applications as soon as the final version is released."

In a review published in MacWeek, author Stephen Beale noted that although some changes will be embraced in the new product, there will be some that will take time to get used to.

He wrote: "Gone are such familiar features as the Chooser, Apple menu and Control Strip. Instead, you'll see the Aqua interface with its antialiased screen elements and photorealistic icons. You'll see documents and applications rising genie-like from the Dock when you need them, and disappearing in a puff of smoke when you don't. You'll see translucent Sheets that slide out from the title bars of open documents, offering quick access to commands for saving the file or performing other operations.

"Applications that take full advantage of Mac OS X will have capabilities far beyond those of current Mac OS software. And the new OS promises to end the Mac's second-class status in many areas of computing, such as the enterprise, professional 3-D graphics, high-end server applications and the like. But despite its foundation in Apple's Darwin software, this is not an evolutionary upgrade. It's a revolutionary one, and this will make some users uncomfortable even as they anticipate the goodies."

Rob Bygrave, a student of client/server programming and Web development, concurred.

"In my opinion, OS-X is designed to be primarily for the professional computer user markets, such as office productivity, graphics and video, database administration, and, presumably, network administration. I believe this is Apple's attempt to answer the critics of the years past who claimed that the Mac was not a 'real computer,' only a PC is considered to be a 'real computer.'"

Stay tuned. As the product unveils and ultimately redevelops, there will be more to say, and write, about this topic.

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