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Letters to the Editor


30 October 1997

C/net is exposing the future Betamaxes and 8 track tapes of the technology world in a column entitled "10 Technologies that Don't Stand a Chance." Judge for yourself. BTW, one of those doomed technologies is Java.

Ralph Nader has published an article in Microsoft's magazine Slate entitled "The Microsoft Menace: Why I'm leading a crusade to stop its drive for cyberspace hegemony." In it, he outlines his motivation for setting up the upcoming conference in Washington D.C. which will examine Microsoft's practices.

A Ric Ford editorial for MacWeek points out how Rhapsody is different from UNIX and MacOS.

The Age, a Melbourne, Australia, newspaper, is covering the release of Rhapsody. It also covers the uproar that was caused in the aftermath of a Yale administrator's letter stating that Yale will no longer support macs (even though the university is over 50% Macintosh). It was discovered later that the letter coincided with a $3.4 million grant request from Intel.

Controversy flies regarding Rhapsody/Oracle/Mac Network Computers, according to a MacWeek article.

23 October 1997

What is an OS? Wired News asks this question in the light of the recent DoJ/Microsoft squabble (see below).

Microsoft is being attacked from all sides. The Department of Justice is threatening to fine the company one million dollars per day unless it stops requiring OEM licencees to install Internet Explorer along with Windows 95 on new systems. While initially most people assumed that the primary intent of the DoJ censure was primarily aimed at preventing Microsoft from leveraging it's OS near-monopoly to force Netscape out of business, recently licencees like Compaq and Gateway have testified that MS threatened to yank their licences if they did not both install IE on their machines, but also keep the IE and MSN icons on the desktop. Those companies with agreements with MS competitors like Netscape and AOL, were prohibited from altering the default Windows95 install configuration on new computers that they sell. ZDNet has more info.

This muddies the water a bit. Microsoft's primary argument is closely related to its IE 4.0 hoopla, wherein the internet and the desktop are merged, and the desktop can display web pages while the browser can browse the hard drive. With this paradigm, the browser is part of the OS, and therefore should not be removed or altered by OEM licencees. On the other hand, a web browser is clearly an application, no matter its functionality or the fact that it's bundled with the OS.

This largely philosophical issue could develop into public discourse over the nature of an operating system. We'll keep you posted.

All this is, of course, on top of Sun Microsystems' much-ballyhooed lawsuit over Microsoft's misappropriation of Java technology. (Of course, Sun "ballyhoos" everything relating to Java, doesn't it?).

Not to mention Ralph Nader's upcoming conference of Microsoft's anti-competitive practices.

Registered Macintosh develpers are gradually receiving and installing their DR1 developer release of Rhapsody. The good news is that it apparently runs flawlessly on the Powermac 7x00 hardware. The other good news is that it runs very stably. The bad news is that this is only the developer release, and a lot of people would like to get their hands on it. Macintouch has some important installation advice, including documentation of a minor bug.

68k Mac-using Linux fans will be glad to hear that a lot of progress had be made on the MkLinux port to the older 68k hardware. According to Macintouch:

The Linux/m68k project, which is porting Linux to 680x0-based Mac systems, has reached some breakthroughs in its long effort to reverse-engineer the Mac architecture in the absence of any support from Apple. The group now has "working code for nubus, ADB, SCSI, most internal and external video cards, numerous ethernet cards, and (of course) the vast array of drivers already working for the established Linux ports."

Mac the Knife recently posted a screenshot supposedly from the mysterious COS Operating System. Though he casts doubt on the authenticity of the screenshot, and on COS itself, MacNN's Reality exposes the screenshot as a fraud, further eroding COS' credibility. COS is supposedly a high security Mac-compatible operating system capable of running with very little RAM and a small footprint. It is being developed by a GErman company called Omega. Many people doubt the accuracy of the claims, and some are convinced that the whole thing is a hoax. Time will tell. For more info on COS, see the recent MacWeek article.

Reality also has some Rhapsody screenshots, showing the Blue box in action.

29 September 1997

And you thought Mac users were die hards . . . Amiga users are hopeful since Gateway purchased the pioneering Amiga OS. Gateway plans to release Amiga compatible hardware, in addition to providing for multi OS boxes that will run both the Amiga OS and Windows. This throws an intriguing option into the OS mix. Look for more information on the Amiga OS in the coming weeks.

The Amiga OS could find its way into many types of household appliances. One of the most likely candidates is the Gateway Destination (TV/PC hybrid) which has been known to crash, forcing viewers to reboot their TV in the middle of X-Files. Amiga, Inc's Darrek Lisle spoke to an Amiga users group and answered many questions about the OS's future uses for both PCs and appliances.

26 September 1997

Larry Ellison unwittingly demonstrated some of the Network Computer's main weaknesses in his NC demo at Oracle OpenWorld 97. In fact the demo went so badly that you almost feel sorry for the guy. Ironically, this failed demo comes on the heels of a Zona Research report that IT buyers are lukewarm on the whole NC idea anyway.

Cable modems may very well figure into tomorrow's bandwidth-hungry computing, and c/net has a nifty primer that includes a useful map of areas in which cable modem service is available.

Thessasource has a good editorial on Apple's future plans, including rhapsody and NCs. More interesting, though, is speculation on the development of much faster processors.

Techweb accuses Apple of making Rhaspody look like Windows, and gives a good general interest intro to the Rhapsody project.

Macintouch has an in-depth report on the BaNG (Bay Area NeXT Group) Rhapsody demo. Several astute Rhapsodyphiles had submitted their observations and comments about the no-yet-released Rhapsody Developer Release.

25 September 1997

Apple will can its Human Interface group next week, as first reported on by Arlo Rose, long time HI guru at Apple, on comp.sys.mac.system several days ago. Approximately half of the group has been shut down, leaving about eight positions. According to Rose, "Steve Jobs has decided that the Human Interface department as it stands isn't vital to Apple's future."It appears that Interim-CEO Steve Jobs feels most of the work can be handled by engineers. While this news seemed to be gladly received by many in NeXT advocacy groups who loved the NeXT UI as is, many lamented Rose's departure as well as the demise of an important part of the Mac-design equation. While many of the team will be offered alternative positions, make no mistake, HIDG has been dealt quite a blow.

With this announcement will certainly come other layoffs and reorganizations although at this point it isn't clear what else will be affected or to what extent.

24 September 1997

Ric Ford's Macintouch column for Macweek talks about a conversation he had with Steve Jobs. It casts a hopeful but mysterious haze on Apple's future plans

Apple's marketing chief Guerrino De Luca resigned the other day for "personal reasons" but a Reuters article speculates that it was because he didn't like the direction that newly christened "interim CEO" Steve Jobs was taking the company in. The article also talks about layoffs and other upheavals at Apple.

Word has it that this next spate of layoffs is going to be as drastic as any of the past ones have been. It might even be beyond the "non core" employees this time.

If you want a good deal on a Power PC system, Power Computing is blowing them out. Remember that Apple has taken responsibility for supporting them, so never fear. Keep an eye on deal-mac for the best deals.

In an ironic turn, Macosrumors is trying to dispel the rumor that the Rhapsody Developer Release will be delayed. They insist that it's right on schedule. They also mention that the Rhapsody DR for Intel is slated for October 20th.

Macosrumors is also reporting that according to Motorola, the Power PC architecture has a lot of potential. How much? How about one gigahertz (1,000 MHz). (!)

Are the rumors getting a little out of hand? Stepwise has a great editorial called Rhapsody Rumor Control, which debunks some of the wackiest, and most likely untrue, rumors out there. Of course, anyone who's been following Apple for the past few weeks knows that truth can be stranger than fiction.

Don Crabb wrote an editorial trying to temper the anger that many Mac-using professionals are feeling toward Apple and Jobs. If you're angry, read it and it might just snap you back to reality.

Be's Jean-Louis Gassee has an interesting and insightful look on the CHRP issue in the latest Be Newsletter. He also explores the idea that some have put forward of a Be driven Photoshop machine. Interesting.

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