The "Jaguar" update
On 5 August 2002, Apple Inc. (formerly Apple Computer, Inc.) announced OS X will be upgraded to version 10.2 codenamed Jaguar from the original OS X 10.1.x "Puma". It is claimed to have over 150 new features (mostly things like a free instant messaging client utility, QuickTime 6, and improved network capabilities such as dynamically recognising other devices on a network thanks to a new software utility called Rendezvous). This update is not free and will set you back US$129 (A$229) for the single user license.
The Jaguar update (or more accurately "upgrade") has added a number of interface niceties to the OS X interface. For example, the shadow effect on Macintosh windows has been made more subtle by making it lighter in appearance. The drop-down menus are more opaque for easier reading, but still retains some transparency. Version 10.2 also provides the option to select four alternative anti-aliasing algorithms to help make it easier on your eyes to read text. A good improvement.
A really useful improvement is the ability to overwrite files when saving without being asked to click the Replace button for each file being overwritten. For a moment there it seemed Windows was the better operating system!
For those people who have a Macintosh computer with a Nvidia GeForce2 MX, GeForce3, GeForce4 Titanium, the AGP version of GeForce4 MX, or ATI AGP Radeon card, with at least 16MB of Video RAM, OS X version 10.2 will apply a new technology for displaying your OS X interface.
This new technology is called Quartz Extreme and is designed to redirect the microprocessor intensive video information to generate the OS X interface to the graphics card itself. This frees up the microprocessor and a fair bit of its memory to do other tasks. Although most people may never notice anything different when running version 10.2 using this technology, those who do lots of professional video editing work while running a lot of other applications at the same time will benefit from a more responsive system with fewer "spinning cursors" when OS X was busy processing something.
Other improvements include the ability to share you Mac files with Windows users via the standard Window file sharing format known as SMB/CIFS. And you can search for and connect to Windows file servers and FTP servers (the latter servers restricted to Read Only) directly from the Finder.
Developers should also be pleased to know the Mac can now be connected to the high-powered network databases such as ODBC.
Then the security features have been slightly enhanced with longer password name options, access to the basic FireWall of OS X, and better locking up of the Macintosh when not in use, making it harder for amateur hackers and family members to gain access to the contents on your hard disk. But you would still need to buy professional security tools to do the job properly.
In fact, Apple Inc. (formerly Apple Computer, Inc.) has required numerous almost monthly security updates for the 'Jaguar' version of OS X. So if you are looking for a secure operating system, make sure the version you have of OS X is at least 10.2.8 or better still, go for the 'Panther' version which is 10.3.4.
The System Preferences have been simplified with fewer preferences (i.e. most absorbed into other Preference panes and thus leaving behind the most logical and useful Preference panes). There are improvements in the printing side of things and a better Sherlock utility. Finally, the MPEG4 capable version of QuickTime will be installed (you just have to pay a little extra to make it fully functional though).
Overall, OS X version 10.2 addresses many of the complaints MacOS9 users have said about OS X except for the security issues.
On the negative side of things, not all the known bugs from the previous versions have been wiped out. Also some OS X-savvy applications that performed well under version 10.1 may be incompatible under version 10.2. So check the software manufacturer for an update (hopefully free) for your applications. Perhaps this is another one of Apple's latest ideas of getting people to do the right thing by buying their software in a legitimate way.
And you shouldn't see this update as the one to go for as far as speed improvements are concerned. The speed of OS X version 10.2 is only marginally faster than version 10.1.5. Even with Quartz Exteme turned on, each application will still go at their own pace. It will only appear as if it is more responsive when several applications are running at the same time.
Also all Macintosh computers being sold today with OS X version 10.2 are no longer being supplied with a MacOS9 CD for people wanting to run the older Macintosh software in the pure Classic mode. This is part of Steve Jobs grand plan to eventually do away with MacOS9 altogether and force everyone to accept the latest operating system, warts and all.
But to make up for it, Apple Inc. (formerly Apple Computer, Inc.) is trying their hardest to woe the rest of the Macintosh community to join OS X with its list of new features including presumably the price.
At US$129 (A$229), it is a pity that not every Macintosh user can benefit from this level of refinement. Apple should really be concentrating on making sure the standard OS X for consumers has reached a truly useful, compact, secure and stable level for the masses before considering asking consumers to pay for a new version with lots of fancy new (mostly "pro") features.
At any rate, will Apple be successful with the update to 10.2? Well, it is a bit hard to tell at the moment. It will probably depend on what you are looking for in your operating system.
From the way this update has been developed, it would appear that anyone who is already on OS X and want to get away from the idiosyncracies of OS X version 10.1.5 or lower may have no choice but to upgrade to version 10.2 just to benefit from a slightly easier, simpler and more useful operating system. The price merely makes it easier for Apple to make more of a profit and to find out who is using the latest OS X.
As for everyone else, certainly the price for the update is not a major incentive to get more people to join OS X. So it would appear Apple is really relying on the new features of version 10.2 to do the job instead.
24 August 2002
To help get more people to buy OS X, the official launch of the Jaguar edition OS X version 10.2 has got underway in the US.
After getting much flak from professional Macintosh OS9 "die hard" users about the new operating system, Apple's top executives have decided to visit their Palo Alto Apple retail store in California, USA, to help promote the latest operating system and all their other Apple products.
Despite the non-revolutionary nature of this latest OS X version, Ken Bereskin, the director of Apple MacOS product marketing has told MacCentral.com:
"This is the greatest night in Apple's software history. Our customers [probably OS X "with more money than sense" enthusiasts] are very excited, this whole night is great."
With the likes of Steve Jobs, Phil Schiller, Ron Johnson, Allen Olivo, Jon Rubenstein and Frank Casanova all being present at the launch, it seems Apple Inc. (formerly Apple Computer, Inc.) is hoping to win the hearts and minds of an increasingly cynical and weary bunch of consumers in the real world. Well, they may just win in the end. Given the limited choices consumers have for an operating system Windows, er yuk! And Linux, what's so easy and attractive about this software? consumers may be forced to accept Apple's latest offering.
12 September 2002
The latest tactic to force people to move to the latest technologies (even if they are more suited to publishing and design professionals and not for the average budget-conscious consumer) from Apple Inc. (formerly Apple Computer, Inc.) is to stop people from booting in MacOS9 after 2003.
If Apple Inc. (formerly Apple Computer, Inc.) is touting OS X as the best operating system, why are teachers, students and the average Macintosh user being forced to move to the latest operating system? Can't the customers make their own decision as to whether the latest operating is really that great?!
In the meantime, given the fact that OS X is more suited to the professional (well, only when enough drivers and major applications are carbonised), why can't other Macintosh users benefit from further improvements to MacOS9? Do we all need OS X to run a word processor, send emails etc?
Surely MacOS9 can do all of this basic stuff and more while ensuring the operating system has all its software bugs fully ironed out through annual updates, or at least allow customers to boot in MacOS9 at any time?
Or is there something else about OS X that Apple Inc. (formerly Apple Computer, Inc.) does not want to tell us about? Well, let us guess for a moment. Maybe the UNIX underpinnings of OS X with its greater security vulnerabilities could allow UNIX experts at Apple Inc to view the contents of people's Macintosh computers while they are online? It certainly beats risking the possibility of being discovered deliberately building and selling demonstration Macintosh computers with manufacturing faults that would force customers to return the computers and hard disks to Apple and/or their participating Apple resellers within a short period of time!?
25 October 2002
Apple Inc. (formerly Apple Computer, Inc.) is choosing to keep quiet about their latest technological aims after the hard time the company is having in getting enough OS X 10.2 operating systems to a larger audience outside Mac-centric US cities because of certain technology journalists giving bad publicity for Apple Inc. (formerly Apple Computer, Inc.).
Well, let's face it. We all know what Apple Inc. (formerly Apple Computer, Inc.) is doing and they were certainly not being fully upfront to the customers beforehand about their aggressive technological changes and all the costs they wanted to introduce to the customers in the first place.
Perhaps Apple management needs to go back to the marketing concept of properly understanding the customer's perspective instead of emphasising their bank balances and keeping their shareholders happy.
Apple Inc. (formerly Apple Computer, Inc.) has kept to its word in stopping people booting up in OS9 by introducing the new aluminium PowerPC G4 PowerBooks sporting the latest superwide active matrix screens. But don't get too excited. These machines won't take over the plasma screen market just yet!
To learn more about this latest powerbook, please visit this page.
Either because profits from selling OS X is not extraordinarily high as expected or there is a different and more experienced market segment of Macintosh users who are just not interested in buying OS X, Apple Inc. (formerly Apple Computer, Inc.) is aggressively updating OS X to the latest version known as "Panther". The features and stability of this latest OS X is strongly suggesting this could be Apple's most powerful attempt to put a final blow on all OS9 users and force everyone to come on board and join OS X, whether they like it or not.
In another very subtle attempt to force OS9 users to move over to OS X, Microsoft has announced the end of further software feature developments for Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.1.6 on OS9. Microsoft claims it is so that Apple Inc. (formerly Apple Computer, Inc.) can get enough OS9 users to see the benefit's of Apple's now well-integrated OS X Internet browser known as Safari.
This means OS9 users will have the extra incentive of seeing how beneficial it is to have OS X. Or it may mean OS9 users will have to move over to Netscape Navigator 7.0.2 or higher (with all its niceties combined with some annoying aspects like forcing OS9 users to accept an "Applications (OS9)" folder and preference files at the root level of the hard disk).
Microsoft is careful not to upset too many people from the decision. The company has agreed to provide support and general security updates for Internet Explorer 5.1.6 for the forseeable future.
13 August 2003
Some other major software manufacturers are following in Microsoft and Apple's footsteps in forcing people to accept OS X and buy new OS X software. The latest software manufacturer to do this include the makers of Quark XPress. In another subtle attempt to force everyone to move over to OS X and give the manufacturers a quick burst in profit for their new OS X software, Quark has deliberately put in a software patch to stop older versions of Quark XPress from running in OS X using the Classic OS9 Environment emulator. But this will only happen if you purchase the latest Quark XPress software.
14 August 2003
Some Apple users brave enough to try out the latest OS X version 10.2.x have noticed their "Apple Keyboards" don't have the special keys functionality needed to use the operating system properly. Now consumers who want the latest operating system will be forced to pay for a new keyboard as well as the operating system itself, or move down to MacOS9.2.x to get the full functionality. Interesting to see Apple Inc. (formerly Apple Computer, Inc.) has not provided an immediate update to the latest operating system to allow users to use their old keyboards.
15 August 2003
More problems for OS X users. This time it is claimed certain Movie and Phone Book channels on Sherlock 3 are not fully functional unless users upgrade from OS X version 10.2.3 to OS X version 10.3 or higher. However, another user has discovered the update to version 10.2.6 appears to address the problem. Either that, or somehow people must update only the Sherlock component to version 3.5.2 or higher. But this doesn't detract from the fact that OS X is still in its infancy and has not quite reach the status of a "quality, low-cost and stable operating system for the masses in the 21st century and beyond".
And we can't discount the possibility that Apple could be forcing users to upgrade with these annoying problems.
In the meantime, another problem has suddenly cropped up in the OS X 10.2.x language management system where users try to specify their preferred non-English configurations. Apparently non-English users who click on "Mostra sempre le estensioni dei documenti" (which is the option to always show file extensions) in the Finder Preferences window causes the names of application files and System Folders to automatically revert to their English language equivalent despite being correctly localised in "Open/Save" or "Recent Items" dialog boxes.
18 August 2003
Apple CEO Mr Steve Jobs has resigned from one of his other companies so he can concentrate on getting Apple Inc. (formerly Apple Computer, Inc.) into better shape both financially speaking and, more importantly, with the customers. Too many problems with OS X and not enough G5 sales is causing far too many worldwide Apple resellers major headaches and financial concerns.
You won't have much choice now. Apple has decided to discontinue the production of titanium G4 PowerBooks. Now you can't enjoy a slightly cooler, well-built and simpler machine capable of booting in OS9 when you want to. You will be forced to buy the new "non-OS9-bootable) aluminium G4 PowerBooks.
In the meantime, the MacFixIt.com section of CNET has conducted a survey on Apple users online and have asked for their thoughts on the operating systems OS9 and OS X. The most interesting thing to come from this survey is how the Mac community have been seriously divided over the operating system issue. The survey even suggests there are more people still using OS9 than OS X.
Those few Mac users touting the brilliance of OS X appear to be either newcomers who just happened to have stumbled on a Macintosh computer for the first time and have the money to purchase brand new OS X software, or young people with so money to burn that it doesn't really matter so long as it looks better than before. There are some who are making a living from using OS X, but most seem contented to remain with OS9 from a simplicity and ease of use as well as from an economic point-of-view. And, of course, people can still run their existing software.
A summary of the survey and some of the comments made by Mac users can be found from here.
17 July 2003
Apple Inc. (formerly Apple Computer, Inc.) reveals the latest financial position for the end of the last quarter (i.e. June 2003). Avoiding to mentioning the fact that Apple's overall market share of computers worldwide has fallen from 2.34 per cent for the full year of 2002 to 2.04 per cent in the first quarter of 2003 according to Gartner-Dataquest (in terms of total numbers sold), Apple claimed profit in the US is a particularly good one (we can only wonder whether the same can be said of other Apple headquarters worldwide, especially in Australia). As Dennis Sellers writes for MacCentral.com (now part of MacWorld.com):
"Apple's US$19 million profit for its most recent fiscal quarter (which ended in June) saw the company achieve its highest level of revenue in 11 quarters, according to Apple Chief Financial Officer Fred Anderson. Overall, laptop and iPod sales soared, iMac sales dropped, and Power Macs flatlined.
Nearly 46 per cent of the profit is attributed to the sale of consumer laptops and the iPod, mostly in the US (with more laptops being sold to higher education users). This profit figure, driven by strong US sales (with a US market share of anywhere between 3.5 and 11 per cent depending on the marketing firm you choose and whether it is in terms of numbers sold or machines actually installed and used), supports Apple's claim of opening 6 more new Apple stores in the US. However, only one new store will be opened overseas, and that will be in Tokyo, Japan.
The trend by consumers and students towards purchasing more laptops rather than desktop machines is not unique to Apple Inc. (formerly Apple Computer, Inc.). All PC manufacturers are experiencing a boost in laptop sales due to the shear processing power already reached in the portable scene.
Alright then. With US$19 million made in shear profit, the question on the minds of many OS9 users is why stop the development of OS9 through further updates to ensure its stability to the level of OS8.6 and even consider making the system able to run a greater range of slightly older OS X software?
In fact, with so much profit, why can't users choose the operating system they want to boot up in the latest Macintosh computers?
What's in OS X to force people to upgrade? And why can't software manufacturer's provide an OS9 and OS X version of their software products just like those using Windows 98, XP, Me, 2000, NT or whatever other operating system Microsoft wants to introduce in the future?
Is it so hard for Apple to provide the tools to allow software manufacturers to make OS9 compatible software just as easily as OS X? Surely it isn't because the number of OS9 users are very small. Actually there are more OS9 users than there are OS X users. If the law of marketing applies correctly, products should continue to be sold to the people who are in greater numbers for a particular operating system.
Or is it true that Apple Inc. (formerly Apple Computer, Inc.) is actually struggling to sell enough quantities of machines outside the US because they realised there are too many OS9 users still in existence in the real world?
Perhaps the company is afraid to face the fact that OS X was not the great success it had hoped it would.