One of the great diversions every time Apple releases a new version of the system software is figuring out what old programs will and will not work. Even more serious are the concerns about which machines may no longer be able to keep up. Sometimes there's simply no way to bring the older machines up to snuff - a 1 MB Mac Plus can't run System 7. However, machines that still have a fair amount of power and can hold plenty of RAM are harder to leave behind.
Luckily, Apple is doing the right thing for one group of Mac owners that may want to upgrade to System 7.5. Those of us who own a Mac II, IIx, IIcx, or SE/30 were pretty much out in the cold until Connectix and Apple announced last week that Connectix plans to update MODE32, the system extension that enables the above-mentioned Macs to use 32-bit mode and address more than 8 MB of RAM. In September of 1991, Apple licensed MODE32 for unlimited, free distribution, and that license agreement remains in force. Apple also announced that it would cease development of its the ill-fated 32-bit Enabler - apparently neither the 32-bit Enabler nor the current MODE32 work at all under System 7.5.
Connectix plans to ship MODE32 7.5 on 16-Sep-94, and it will be available on Connectix's AppleLink, America Online, and CompuServe forums, as well as through dealers, user groups, and directly for a handling fee of $9.95 or $14.95 for international users. MODE32 7.5 may be freely copied and distributed, so I expect it to appear on the Internet quickly.
As an interesting side note for those of you who like to gaze deeply into crystal balls, Connectix said in the press release that although they will work to maintain compatibility in future versions of System 7 and will revise MODE32's version number to correspond with the highest version of System 7 supported, there's a brief nod to System 8, whatever that may turn out to be. The press release says, "If a version can be developed for Macintosh Systems subsequent to System 7.x, users may be asked to pay an upgrade fee or purchase a new product." I read this to mean that Apple's MODE32 license only applies to System 7, and if it's even possible (or necessary) for Connectix to develop a version for System 8, it may be a different product or return to being commercial.
We're pleased to see Apple once again enabling these four older Macs to use System 7.5, and for making support issues less confusing by dropping the 32-bit Enabler. Perhaps the most important reason for this continued support is that Macs aren't consigned to the scrap heap after they've aged for a few years. Millions of older Macs may have moved on from their original owners, but people still use these machines for productive work. It may not always be possible to upgrade them to the latest and greatest version of the system software, but when then hardware can handle the load, as in the case of the II, IIx, IIcx, and SE/30, it's nice to have the option.
Connectix and Apple propaganda