Apple Makes OS Transition

By David Morgenstern  |  Posted 2006-08-31 Print this article Print

Easier"> Several months after the Cheetah, I attended a San Francisco Mac user group meeting, a place where one might expect to find brave hearts. But only a few of the 50 attendees said they were living 24/7 in Cheetah.

In the fall of 2001, Apple released Puma (v10.1), a maintenance upgrade. Yet, it proved stable enough to let the company ship Macs with OS X as the default boot in January 2002.
Still, all of Apples new and faster Mac models came with Mac OS 9 preloaded and as the primary OS. Users had a choice: Stay with the familiar look-and-feel of OS 9 programs for their workflows, or find improved memory and stability in an unfamiliar interface that required updated versions of applications.
Developers also offered entirely new applications to fill niches uncovered by the changed environment. At the same time, starting with the initial Cheetah release, Apple provided customers an emulation environment called Classic that could run OS 9 applications. So, users in OS X could be sure of access to their familiar applications, even if there wasnt memory protection and other benefits. At the spring 2002 Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple warned its software partners that the end to Mac OS 9.x support was on the horizon. Steve Jobs opened his keynote with a eulogy to Mac OS 9, saying the OS "was a friend to us all." A coffin rose from the floor of the stage to the strains of J.S. Bachs "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor." Mac OS 9 "isnt dead for your customers, yet," Jobs told the crowd. "But its dead to you." He pointed developers to features in OS X Jaguar (v10.2), which was released about 5 months later. This was the version with the bugs really shaken out and missing features from OS 9 mostly restored. Starting with Mac models introduced in 2003, Macs could only boot into Mac OS X Jaguar (and Linux if you wished, but thats a different story); booting into Mac OS 9 was not allowed. Of course, the old Mac OS 9 applications could still be run in the Classic environment. (Apple provides an interesting historical list of what Mac models can boot what version of the Mac OS. It can be a bit confusing to the uninitiated because of Apples cryptic habit of making serious changes in hardware configurations without noting the change in the name of the series or models in question.) Will the Windows Vista vs. Mac OS X Leopard feature fight come down to a few interface elements? The current scrap is over Vistas Flip3D and Apples Expose. Click here to read more. Unlike the situation with Vista, Mac users had plenty of time—more than a year and a half—to ignore the new OS if they chose to do so. Customers could make up their minds about OS X in their own time frame and still have the security of knowing their existing workflows would be maintained while upgrading hardware. In fact, support for the Classic environment was only stopped with the release of Intel-based Macs. By my reckoning, Microsoft is sending the opposite message with its Vista rollout: You will be grateful for the "Windows Vista Experience"—Period! Oh, and heres an item for those who harp on the price of Macs. Take a look at the reported savings on "additional" licenses for Vista owners. You will save between $10 and $40 off the price of each additional license when you upgrade or buy Vista new. Apple offers a "family" 5-pack license, with each seat costing $40 each. Thats real savings. What do you think? Should Microsoft look to Apples playbook for the Vista rollout next year? Let us know here. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.

David Morgenstern is Executive Editor/Special Projects of eWEEK. Previously, he served as the news editor of Ziff Davis Internet and editor for Ziff Davis' Storage Supersite.

In 'the days,' he was an award-winning editor with the heralded MacWEEK newsweekly as well as eMediaweekly, a trade publication for managers of professional digital content creation.

David has also worked on the vendor side of the industry, including companies offering professional displays and color-calibration technology, and Internet video.

He can be reached here.


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