Worldwide Developer's Conference Begins Today

FTLComm - San Jose - May 10, 1999
by: Timothy W. Shire
Through the wonders of QuickTime 4.0 I was able to attend the Keynote address at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose California and listen as interim CEO Steve Jobs and head of software development Avie Trevanian outline Apple's present strategy.

To save you some time, if you already know the direction Apple's operating system is going, nothing has changed and that is news in itself. So many companies have to keep moving their targets and objectives to meet the changing situation and Apple began three years ago to set for itself a path that would lead to a successful and superior operating system of the environment evolving in the school, home and workplace. Both Jobs and Trevanian have held their jobs for these past three years and the hard work of Apple's development team is now paying off.

At the conference and on the web, Apple's latest update to its current operating system 8.5.1, OS 8.6 was released. This is a free upgrade for everyone with 8.5 and cleans up
a whole range of stability issues with the new hardware in both the iMac and the new G3 Pro. It is a hefty download in access of thirty megabytes so I am going to use a CD later this week to do the install on my machine and if you are using 8.5 and want to upgrade without spending several hours doing a download, just get in touch with me (306 873 2004). As you are likely aware, both the iMac and the G3 Pro, have broken new ground with their hardware and 8.5.1 is just not addressing those needs. If you are using a G3 Pro you will have discovered the difficulties you are experiencing with the operating system and you would be well advised to turn off virtual memory and you will discover how much more stable your computer becomes (64MB of DRAM for a G3 Pro from FTLComm is now $119.95).

As part of the ongoing development of the conventional Macintosh operating system "Sonata" will be released this coming fall and introduces the second evolution of the search software "Sherlock". Sherlock is making finding things on your computer and on the web far easier and making the use of online search engines completely unnecessary.

(The panel on the right is what the presentation looked like on my screen as I watched the demos of Sonata's new version of Sherlock. This is the new QuickTime 4.0 viewer and looks and works the same on all computer platforms. The amazing thing about this process is that with this running on your computer you can see live images and hear the live sound as it streams to you over the Internet Even though the image is small it is detailed enough to follow the presentation and in this frame you can even see the clever multiple screen affect that allowed those present and us online to see both the presenter and the screen he was
using.) One of Sonata's new features is a much more enhanced means of identifying multiple uses of a single computer and the computer environment addresses itself to the needs of the individual thus assisting in finding things and organising the way that person does things.

The first operational version of the former NeXT operating system which has evolved in to Macintosh OS X was released in January as the server. This revolutionary software is efficient and remarkably capable as it allows a server to handle web severing file serving and perhaps the most exciting thing of all system serving to the iMac. With an OS X server a whole fleet of iMacs can boot from the server running all of their applications from the server and of course reducing network maintenance to looking after only the server itself.

At the Worldwide Developers Conference Steve Jobs and Avie Trevanian made CDs with copies of Preview 1 of the new OS X that will make its way on to computers about a year from now when it will be released as OS10.0 (Jobs calls it "Ten-dot-oh"). This incredible operating system is the same one displayed in January of 97 only now it is maturing and very nearly complete. At the heart of the new system is "Darwin" which contains the kernel that makes this operating system fly on the powerPC chip and its code was also distributed at the conference today so that developers can begin working in this environment.

It was astonishing to see that Apple has kept its eye on the ball and produced a new and truly amazing development called Quartz. This new portion of the operating system goes to the very core of what has made Apple the graphic computer from the beginning. Quartz is an imagining display portion of the operating system that permits graphics hockus pockus on the fly working in the "PDF" environment. So right
within the operating system, just as it was originally in the Lisa, a graphical system that applications can use to achieve speed and efficiency in creating graphical images with ease and amazing quality.

Apple, when OS X was still called Rhapsody, maintained an emulation operation within the operating system, so that older, non-powerPC applications could still be used called the "Blue Box". This has been fleshed out and is now referred to as "Classic" and is retained within the new system. However, only 5% of the programs in existence will need to use this facility because of the development of "Carbon". Carbon is a set of code in an application that can "carbonise" an application that was originally developed for older Macs and transform it into PowerPC compatible software, that will run as pure software in Mac OS X. This means developers of extensive and expensive software can be immediately upgraded to the new standard with all of the bells and whistles, like protected memory and multitasking, that will give the new system its incredible speed.

One of the other features of the new super operating system is "Cocoa". Originally demonstrated a couple of years ago Cocoa is a clever means of writing applications. The original demonstration of this object oriented language was a ten year creating games, serious games that were fun and worked. Cocoa uses 100% Java and is a programming environment that makes creating small and useful applications that run on any platform and run even quicker on the Mac's new system. Also at the heart of this language is the ability to manipulate Adobe's PDF files.

These developments are all positive and controlled, leading the software developer and the company, toward a solid and remarkably useful new
way of doing things. Apple has always lead the way in moving innovation to the public and Mac OS X looks like it is going to be breaking a lot of new ground. One of the new innovations that clearly indicates the power of the new coming systems is making finding things on your computer and on your network, easier. The finder, and chooser have been a part of Mac operating systems since 1986, but now both are getting a new functionality that will improve the graphics method of finding things and expand the computer users file universe. The new finder uses a lateral means of displaying what is on the hard drive, server or whatever, that you are using and gives the user a means not only to find what they are looking for but also preview what the contents are.

The second and truly radical operating system innovation is moving e-mail right into the operating system. E-mail in Mac OS X will be part of the operating system and with it comes the ability to use Sherlock's search capabilities within e-mail and create e-mail that opens attachments right within the context of the e-mail message itself. Once again PDF files are playing a major part of this development.
The second version of Mac OS X called "Preview 2" will be released in the fall and the full blown user version a year from now. All of the present software developments are on schedule, or slightly ahead of where they were expected to be.

The search for a better operating system is the holy grail for the computer industry. Initially, computers did not really have an operating system at all, but Apple with its early consumer and education machines, moved quickly to make the disk operating system (DOS) a workable environment and later introduced the mouse and a simple operating system on the Apple //gs to create a user interface. Microsoft long ignored the problem, then cobbled together Windows of which 3 and 3.1 were by far the most easily introduced into the computer industry. Windows 95 and 98 have followed the example of Apple OS but achieved the remarkable success of making such a wide variety of computers made by so many different manufacturers usable.









The limitations of the Intel processor have never really been an issue and Microsoft developed Windows NT to fill in a system that would provide a successful business working and network environment. Apple's earliest systems were pretty much were Windows NT is now and Microsoft recognising that if the working environment is going to go the way of the web and networking, began integrating applications into its operating system and of course, we realise that this is what got them into trouble with the American Department of Justice.

The challenge for computer technology is to meet the moving carpet, that is the public and business needs, with systems that will be successful and improve productivity. Apple's modern OS developments have not been without a few set backs, as some systems have been born with nasty habits, but Apple has been able to quickly fix these problems and has kept up an ongoing system of upgrades. Microsoft has also had some bad offspring now and then, and has struggled to keep things under control. Microsoft is to be commended and condemned for both creating and then finding solutions for the year 2000 problem. Their current direction is to move all new computers over to Windows 2000 which is the next version of Windows NT and just as Apple leaves its older operating system behind as it moves toward Mac OS X, Microsoft is saying goodby to the older 95 and 98 systems designed for the consumer.

In two years, most new computers will be either running a version of Windows 2000 or Mac 10.0, but the real issue will be what will be the state of networking at that time? It is hard to imagine what forms connectivity can take and Microsoft is busily creating and testing "thin" network booting operating systems similar to Mac's OS 10.0, while many large computer users are trying out the public domain operating system of UNIX known as LINX.

One clear direction is apparent, things are converging; Java is here to stay, PDFs are becoming the document standard, and those without e-mail are no longer residents of the planet.

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