In the process of receiving over 500 electronic mail messages in support of our letter to Apple asking for a ROM upgrade (it actually asks for a statement of policy regarding the ROM upgrade), I've come across some interesting information on the topic.
Connectix, the people who make Virtual and Maxima and are gurus at this sort of thing, are going to release a utility called MODE32. MODE32 will do exactly what A/UX does for those Macs with dirty ROMs - provide 32-bit cleanliness via software. Connectix will price the utility at $169, I've heard, which will make it a viable option if Apple fails to come out with a ROM upgrade or if the upgrade is exorbitantly priced. The main question with MODE32 is how compatible it will be. If it works on all the machines (it may require a specific version of the PMMU on the Mac II) and all software works with it and there are no strange bugs that go bump in the heap (and that's a lot of 'ifs,' even for Connectix), then MODE32 might become the 'in' utility among power users.
A number of rumors have come in suggesting that Apple is indeed working on a ROM upgrade based on the 32-bit clean IIsi ROMs. Such an upgrade may take until the end of the year, though, in part because Apple is adding features as well as cleaning up the 24-bit ROMs. Those feature would certainly explain the delay, but it does make you wonder what they might put in. The primary candidate is the ability to boot from ROM since that's already shown up in the Classic ROMs, but there's probably not as much room in the IIsi ROMs, so there's no telling. The bad news from Apple was one report on CompuServe that Charlie Oppenheimer, Apple's Product Development Manager, said Apple was hoping the MODE32 would help solve the 32-bit ROM problem. That statement implies that Apple won't release anything for some time yet, if at all.
On an interesting but completely useless note, the IIci ROMs are supposed to work in the IIcx and IIsi ROMs may work in the SE/30, so if any of you have a IIci or IIsi that you want to scrap so that you can use your beloved IIcx or SE/30 in 32-bit mode, feel free to pop them in (of course I could be wrong and it will fry everything, so don't try this at home on your own Macs, kids). On second thought, why don't you just send the IIci or IIsi over to us if you don't want it. :-)
Connectix -- 800/950-5880
Connectix propaganda -- CONNECTIX@applelink.apple.com
David Ramsey -- 76702,335
Walt Mossberg -- 72065,1050
AFC Alex on America Online