|September 18, 2000|
Apple Readies New Core; Will Businesses Bite?
Mac OS X is first big revision to underlying software in 16 years, but few apps forthcoming
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CEO Steve Jobs last week launched the public beta of Mac OS X (pronounced "OS 10"), the operating system that will power Macintosh desktops and notebooks when it's released early next year. The system--based on Unix technology from Next Software Inc., which Apple acquired four years ago--will replace Mac OS 9, which has at its heart code that's evolved from Apple's original System 1 Mac software. A visually dynamic and simpler-to-navigate user interface called Aqua aims to please Apple's consumer aficionados.
But persuading business customers in Apple's publishing and graphic design strongholds to upgrade means ensuring a supply of new applications that take advantage of the operating system. "A new operating system is great, but it's kind of impotent without a rich set of applications to go with it," says Tim Deal, an analyst at Technology Business Research.
In optimized applications, Mac OS X's memory-protection capabilities assign each appli-cation its own address space, which means a crashed program won't bring down the whole system. Pre-emptive mul-titasking prevents ap-plications from monopolizing CPU time. And the release is the first Mac system that supports symmetric multiprocessing, so developers won't have to tailor their apps to take advantage of both processors in Apple's G4 computers; the process will be automatic.
Apple has also built advanced graphics manipulation features into the system, which developers of 3-D image editing and other programs can harness. "Mac OS X is going to be a springboard for a new generation of applications," says Peter Lowe, director of Mac OS product marketing at Apple.
The question is how soon. Adobe Systems Inc. CEO John Warnock said recently that while Mac OS X could help Apple in several markets, it will take a long time to become established. Adobe says only that it plans to ship applications for the new system after it arrives next year.
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