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The Power Macintosh arrives! What did you think we would talk about this issue? Mark Anbinder covers the details of the line and briefly reports on some of the applications shipping in native mode. We attended the Power Macintosh introduction in Seattle and brought back full pricing information along with some musings on where the Power Macs are now and where they're going. Also, the first Power Macintosh Easter Egg!
Copyright 1994 TidBITS Electronic Publishing. All rights reserved.
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A quick update - the Info-Mac archive site at <sumex-aim.stanford.edu> is back up and running, although you should still try to use mirror sites whenever possible.
John Norstad <email@example.com> announced last Friday that a new version of Disinfectant, version 3.4.1, is available. Disinfectant 3.4.1 fixes the minor problems reported in TidBITS #216, and is available at:
In addition to the problem when scanning System Enablers on some Macs, John says that 3.4.1 fixes a tendency of the protection INIT to incorrectly identify INIT 9403 virus infections, using the wrong name.
Power Macintosh Easter Egg -- Mike Basham <firstname.lastname@example.org> has reported the first Easter Egg for the Power Macintoshes. First, make sure no debugger is loaded. Hold down the interrupt switch while turning on the Power Mac, and then let up. The Power Mac will crash, accompanied by some, shall we say, realistic sound effects, complete with breaking glass.
John Sculley and Spectrum, his former employer, have dropped their mutual lawsuits against each other, and to spoil the fun even further, have agreed not to talk about the situation at all. And just as we were getting ready for a truly nasty legal fight costing millions of dollars. Somehow I doubt they'll donate the money they save to a better cause.
BMUG MacFest '94 goes on this coming Saturday, 19-Mar-94, at UC Berkeley's ASUC Pauley Ballroom from 10 AM to 6 PM. It's sounds like a good time and should be a less-overwhelming trade show atmosphere than Macworld. Numerous vendors will exhibit, including Apple, Nisus, Adobe, Wacom, M.A.C., APS, Radius, Niles & Associates, Symantec, User Group Connection, Claris, Dantz, Maccess, Aladdin Systems and others. Admission is free, and a Performa will be raffled off. If you're in the San Francisco area, check it out.
John Baxter <email@example.com> writes:
I've run into something that grammar mavens may find interesting. Consider this correct [English version] AppleScript code:tell word 4 of paragraph 2 of document 1 of application "Scriptable Text Editor" get it's text end tell
Here, Apple has managed to make AppleScript syntax so English-like that it commits the all-too-common mistake of using "it's" instead of "its" as the possessive.
You can of course also write that statement as:get the text of it
That sounds terribly stilted, but at least avoids the incorrect use of the contraction in place of the possessive. One of the amusing things is that Apple has the potential of running into such problems in each language for which they provide an AppleScript dialect
by Mark H. Anbinder, News Editor -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Technical Services, Baka Industries Inc.
In 1984, Apple shipped Macintosh with virtually no third-party software available. Almost at the last minute, the company made up for the shortage of ready-to-ship software by including its own MacWrite and MacPaint products at no charge. Critics have said Apple's success or failure in 1994 will depend upon ready availability of software for the Power Macintosh line.
The good news is that, unlike the original Macintosh, the Power Macintosh machines have the advantage of a huge supply of existing Mac software, the vast majority of which work without modification. Apple's tests and independent testing show that virtually all common productivity software works fine. Only software that's excessively dependent on specific hardware is likely to have trouble.
Even better, Apple's evangelists have been hard at work lining up developers to create new PowerPC-ready programs, or convert existing software to use "native" PowerPC code. In addition, you can run Windows on a Power Mac using SoftWindows, a native application from Insignia Solutions.
In fact, SoftWindows is shipping on every Power Macintosh going out the door - as a limited-use demo version. Insignia evidently hopes that everyone buying a Power Mac will be so enthralled with the concept of running DOS and Windows software that they'll take one look at SoftWindows and run right back to the dealer to buy a copy. We're a little skeptical, since most people who'll need or want SoftWindows already know they do, but we have to admit it's a great way to build additional awareness of what the combination of a Power Mac and SoftWindows can do.
A number of native programs currently shipping include processor-intensive products that take advantage of the Power Mac speed boost. For example, users of Specular International's Infini-D software demand the fastest possible hardware so as to cut down on the long stretches of waiting time while the program renders its images. Specular's gamble - that these users are carrying home a Power Mac 8100 as I write this - is likely to pay off. Similarly, Fractal Design Painter takes advantage of a PowerPC's horsepower to chug through those complex filters.
Applause to WordPerfect Corporation, whose PowerPC-native word processor for Power Macintosh shows the just how serious WordPerfect is about the Macintosh. WordPerfect Mac 3.0 took most of our doubts away, but it's nice to see this level of commitment to keeping ahead, rather than keeping up. Microsoft (typically in front at least where market share is concerned) claims it will ship native versions of Excel, Word, Works, PowerPoint, and Office by mid-year. Microsoft also announced a "Power Guarantee" offer. If you purchase Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Office, on or after 01-Apr-94 (so hold off buying any Microsoft applications for two weeks!), Microsoft will give you a free upgrade to the next version - either a 680x0 version or a Power Mac version, your choice. Adobe announced a similar policy starting today, and we expect other companies to follow suit to avoid alienating customers who must buy now but need a PowerPC-native version of the program as soon as it's available.
Central Point's MacTools may seem an odd product to go native early, but when you think about it, software that must work so intensively and so directly with the SCSI and file management routines in the Mac Toolbox might as well speak the same language. Context switching between native and emulated code, whether within the application or in the toolbox, is likely to be a big factor in the slowness of non-native applications. We've also heard that Dayna's ProFiles software shipped today in a native version.
Upcoming releases planned for the next few weeks include ClarisWorks and ClarisImpact, Apple's own PhotoFlash software, DeltaPoint's DeltaGraph Pro, Frame Technology's FrameMaker, ArchiCAD and MiniCAD from Graphisoft, form*Z from auto*des*sys, Wolfram Research's Mathematica, Ray Dream Designer, Strata's StudioPro, VideoFusion and QuickFLIX! from VideoFusion, Visual Information's Presenter Professional, and the Virtus and WalkThrough lines from Virtus.
Other developers planning PowerPC-native applications for release during the first half of 1994 include RasterOps, Quark, Nisus, Macromedia, Gryphon, Deneba, Dantz, Aldus, Aladdin, Adobe, and ACI US.
Central Point Software -- 503/690-8090
Dayna Communications -- 800/531-0600 -- 801/531-0600
Fractal Design Corporation -- 408/688-8800
Insignia Solutions -- 800/848-7677 -- 415/694-7600
Microsoft Corporation -- 800/227-4679 -- 206/882-8080
WordPerfect Corporation -- 800/321-4566 -- 801/225-5000
by Mark H. Anbinder, News Editor -- email@example.com
TidBITS has shared most of the relevant information about the Power Macs over the past few weeks, but this article takes a quick look at the official details from Apple.
Power Macintosh -- All three new computers introduced today bear the name "Power Macintosh," and are built around a PowerPC 601 microprocessor, the first-generation chip resulting from joint efforts among Apple, IBM, and Motorola. We'll talk about later members of that family later on.
Each Power Macintosh has a variety of input and output options, including on-board Ethernet (with an Apple FriendlyNet port); 16-bit CD-quality stereo input and output; and a GeoPort connector, which requires Apple's GeoPort Telecom Adapter to connect to the world.
Each of the machines is available in a configuration with an internal CD-ROM drive (the new tray-loading drive); each can be ordered in a bundle with Insignia's SoftWindows; and each can be purchased in an AV configuration to take advantage of video and speech capabilities.
6100/60 -- The Power Macintosh 6100/60 incorporates a 60 MHz PowerPC 601 chip into Apple's popular low-profile pizza-box case, in which we've seen the Centris and Quadra 610 and 660AV. Its low price makes up for the lesser expandability, for those who are satisfied with the computer as-is. The 6100 includes a PDS (processor-direct slot) that can accommodate a 7-inch NuBus card with the use of an additional NuBus Adapter.
Because the 6100 has only one expansion slot, it doesn't offer the out-of-the-box dual-monitor support of its larger siblings, and the AV configuration has no further expansion capability.
Upgrades to a Power Mac 6100/60 should soon be available for the Centris and Quadra 610 and 660AV, and the Workgroup Server 60.
7100/66 -- A bit faster than the low-end 6100, this Power Mac comes in the squat case that's housed the Macintosh IIvx, IIvi, Performa 600, and the Centris and Quadra 650. All of these machines may be upgraded to a 7100. Its 66 MHz processor isn't sufficiently faster than that of the 6100 to entice buyers for that reason alone, but many will go for the extra expandability: this machine has three NuBus slots.
The PDS is filled with Apple's video card, providing dual monitor support right out of the box, although AV configurations replace this card with an AV card. What might confuse some users is that the two monitor ports are different. The computer includes one DB-15 video port, much like the ones we've seen since 1987, and one new HDI-45 AudioVision connector, which requires an included adapter in order to connect to standard monitors.
8100/80 -- The 8100/80 leads the Power Mac pack, with an 80 MHz PowerPC 601 processor in a Quadra 800-style mini-tower case. Further accelerating this fast machine is a Level 2 memory cache and a dual-channel SCSI capability. This is the Power Mac for people who need the ultimate in performance in order to get the fastest possible speeds for animation, rendering, working in Photoshop, and so on.
As with the 7100, the video PDS card is included, but is replaced if you order the AV configuration.
Quadra 800 and 840AV, and Workgroup Server 80 owners can upgrade to an 8100/80
All in the Family -- Today's computers all contain the PowerPC 601 chip, the first of a family of processors bearing the PowerPC name. The processor has an integrated floating point unit and a RAM cache that helps PowerPC blaze through data efficiently. So far, PowerPC 601 chips are available in "build quantities," or quantities sufficient to make real-life products, at speeds up to 80 MHz, though there are faster chips available in small quantities.
The next PowerPC chip we're likely to see is the PowerPC 603, a smaller, low-power version of the 601. Without advancing the architecture, the 603 chip will make possible PowerPC-based notebook computers and handheld devices. PowerPowerBooks and PowerNewtons might be right around the corner! Apple plans to take advantage of the lower power needs and lower heat output from these chips on its PowerPC accelerator cards aimed at the smaller Macs, such as the Quadra 605, LC 475, and Performa 475, 476 & 550. These chips are just becoming available in sufficient quantities to consider making products out of them, so it shouldn't be long before new designs are readied.
Further in the future are the PowerPC 604 and 620, which will each be a significant step up in performance potential from its predecessor. Raw processing power is likely to be multiplied by three to five in each of these steps, so a Power Macintosh of 1995 or 1996, based on a PowerPC 620, will be quite the screamer.
On Your Desk -- If you want a Power Macintosh of your very own, the word is good; dealers report stock on their shelves as of the introduction date, though of course some stock is being snapped up quite quickly! The dealers will be able to order more for now; we'll have to see how well availability holds up.
The bad news is that the apparently-popular SoftWindows bundles are already in short supply, and separate copies of SoftWindows may be hard to come by. Each Power Macintosh ships with a demo version pre-installed on its hard disk, but that's held to relatively short work sessions and a limited number of total launches.
[Note: I've seen additional confirmation of the lack of SoftWindows copies in part because it only recently went golden, so Apple is scrambling to get it installed on hard disks. Another factor that may either improve or worsen availability, depending on your dealer, is that some dealers that normally place small orders are apparently placing much larger orders, straining the existing supplies in unanticipated ways. -Adam]
My advice? Don't wait long. Keep your eye on the networks and online services for discussions about potential compatibility problems with your favorite software, but unless you hear something scary within the next few days, chances are that the time to leap is now.
-- Information from:
Here are the official prices, straight from the Apple propaganda distributed at today's presentation. All of these prices are "Apple prices," which means that they are probably relatively close to what you'll pay at a normal dealer. Obviously, academic discounts will make a difference. Prices for the Power Macs include only the CPU, no keyboard or monitor. The first number is the amount of RAM, the second is the hard drive size, CD indicates an internal AppleCD 300+, AV indicates additional AV technologies included, and SoftWindows indicates that the program is included in the bundle.
Power Macintosh 6100/60
8/250/CD/AV/2 MB VRAM $2,599
Power Macintosh 7100/66
8/250/1 MB VRAM $2,899
8/250/CD/1 MB VRAM $3,179
8/500/CD/AV/2 MB VRAM $3,989
16/250/SoftWindows/1 MB VRAM $3,379
Power Macintosh 8100/80
8/250/2 MB VRAM $4,249
8/250/CD/2 MB VRAM $4,519
16/500/CD/AV/2 MB VRAM $5,659
16/1000/CD/2 MB VRAM $6,159
16/500/SoftWindows/2 MB VRAM $5,309
Power Macintosh Upgrade Card $699
6100/60 Logic Board Upgrade
w/8 MB DRAM $999
6100/60AV Logic Board Upgrade
w/8 MB DRAM/2 MB VRAM $1,399
7100/66 Logic Board Upgrade
w/8 MB DRAM/1 MB VRAM $1,499
7100/66AV Logic Board Upgrade
w/8 MB DRAM/2 MB VRAM $1,699
8100/80 Logic Board Upgrade
w/8 MB DRAM/2 MB VRAM/256K cache $1,899
8100/80AV Logic Board Upgrade
w/8 MB DRAM/2 MB VRAM/256K cache $1,999
Power Macintosh 6100/60 NuBus Adapter Card $99
Power Macintosh 256K Cache Card (6100/7100) $299
Power Macintosh Display Adapter $29
-- Information from:
The Power Macintosh arrived today amid a 90 minute Apple presentation beamed via satellite to over 300 locations around the world. We attended the gala event in Seattle, although except for some niceties such as PowerBars (usually for athletes), apples, and gobs of candy outside the hall and a short introduction by a local Apple person, everyone else in the world saw the same show.
Apple provided little information of substance, but that's not surprising since the presentation aimed for glitz and market placement. To provide the proper mood, Apple ran a videotape of many, if not all, of their television ads over the past 10 or 12 years (there were even several Apple //c ads at the beginning). The early ads were followed by four or five new ones that we hope appear on television soon, since they're among the best that Apple has done. A slightly sarcastic voice intones, "The future," and fabulous old footage from early robot movies appears on screen, ending with an aggressive visual transition to the words Power Macintosh and the voice-over saying, "Power Macintosh is here. The future is better than you expected." There were a few variations, but the thrust remained the same throughout.
The presentation flipped back and forth between Apple executives and product managers talking about the machines and showing demonstrations of Power Mac performance. The strangest part was when a product manager from Microsoft - the only company that gave a demo - showed Word 6.0 and Excel 5.0. Instead of demoing special features that the Power Mac (or at least the Mac OS) makes possible, she primarily showed features already available in Windows versions of the software. This was doubly odd considering that there are major applications reportedly shipping in native code today, such as WordPerfect 3.0, whereas neither Word 6.0 nor Excel 5.0 are currently available even in 680x0 code, lending doubt to Microsoft's claim to ship native versions by mid-year.
The Apple execs made three points about the Power Macs abundantly clear. They are cheap yet fast, backward-compatible, and cross-platform compatible. That pretty much sums up the thinking behind the marketing, so let's look at each in turn.
Cheap Yet Fast -- There's no question that the Power Macs are fast when running native code, and even though Apple claims 150 vendors are working on native versions of major applications, I doubt you can buy all that many at the same time you pick up a Power Mac. Even if speed is equivalent to a fast 68030 or slow 68040 in emulation mode, that's fine, since no one should buy a Power Mac if they only want to run old software that won't be upgraded. As it stands, the Power Macs will only get faster in users' eyes as more native applications appear in the next six to nine months. InfoWorld found the Power Mac 8100 running native applications to be twice as fast as a 60 MHz Pentium, and five times faster than a Centris 650. The same 8100 running emulated applications checked in slightly below the Quadra 605.
Prices too seem utterly reasonable, with the three models, the 6100, the 7100, and the 8100 vaguely falling into the $2,000, $3,500, and $5,000 price points. There are of course different models and configurations - see above for details. Perhaps the most interesting of the prices is the price on the Power Macintosh Upgrade Card, a mere $699. Add that to the $1,800 a Quadra 650 costs according the used Macintosh price chart in MacWEEK, and you've got a decent PowerPC-capable machine for $2,500, some $300 less than the equivalent Power Mac 7100. Considering the possible advantage of being able to boot in 68040-mode for absolute compatibility, the speed hit from the card may be worth the savings. MacWEEK ran MacBench tests on various Macs with and without the upgrade card and a 7100, and found that although video and floating point results were noticeably lower for the upgrade cards, processor speed was comparable and disk speeds appeared better, although that may have been due to the SCSI buses in the Quadra 700 and 950 used with the upgrade card in comparison to the 7100's SCSI bus.
Backward-compatible -- There's not much more to say. Most everything runs under the new System 7.1.2 on the Power Macs, and some users claim the move to Power Macintosh was smoother even than the move to System 7 or to an AV Mac. Since existing applications run only in emulation; however, there are a few problems that won't go away without an upgrade. Power Macintosh emulation is based on the 68LC040 chip from Motorola, which lacks a floating point unit. Hence, applications that requires an FPU simply won't run in emulation. These applications stand to benefit the most from the increased speed of the Power Macs, so they are likely to be upgraded soon. If you rely on such an application, don't buy a Power Mac until the application goes native, or consider the Power Macintosh Upgrade Card, which enables you to reboot in 68040-mode. Applications that look for specific pieces of hardware within the Macintosh won't work, such as low-level utilities like Connectix's Virtual and RAM Doubler or applications that break Apple's guidelines by touching the serial ports directly, for example. Don't trust old communication software in particular. Some NuBus cards may require ROM or software upgrades - check with the manufacturer to be sure.
Cross-platform Compatible -- No surprises here, although reports continue to differ on how fast the PC-emulation really is. There are few complaints about compatibility though, and any program that can run on the 80286 chip should run fine under SoftWindows. The program also supports networks, although I don't know enough about PC networking to judge how completely it does so. I suspect that the arguments about how fast SoftWindows performs exist because emulation is an art, and as such, certain tasks may run as fast as a 66 MHz 486, whereas others may poke along at 286 speeds. No matter what though, SoftWindows is a resource hog - as you can see from the configurations above, it only comes bundled on Power Macs with 16 MB of RAM. That's because SoftWindows itself requires a minimum of 9 MB of RAM, and prefers a good deal more.
What's Important -- The primary fact to remember about the Power Macs is that they are fast Macs. Nothing less, perhaps something more, although that remains to be seen. Apple appears to be targeting three audiences, DOS/Windows users, fence-sitters, and existing Macintosh owners. Of the three, Macintosh users will definitely buy Power Macs in droves. Fence-sitters, or people who have yet to buy a computer at all, very well may buy Power Macs, and in our opinion, they should seriously consider them. Without an existing investment in DOS/Windows software and knowledge, there's no reason not to get a Power Macintosh that can run almost all Macintosh software and a great deal of the PC software out there as well. Price used to be an issue, but the kind of power embodied inside the Power Macs makes this less of an argument. Finally, although Apple would dearly love to convert existing DOS and Windows users to Power Macintosh, it's just not going to happen. Users don't care one whit about what chip is inside their computer; they care about what applications they run. We Macintosh users can carp all day about what a lousy interface Windows has and how clumsy simple tasks like moving directories are, but in the end, these folks will not run their applications in emulation. Why would they? They're not interested in Macintosh applications - if they were, they probably would have purchased Macs long ago. The only caveat to this is that if the speed of the Power Macs continues to increase significantly while the prices drop, some large organizations might consider moving to Power Macs instead of upgrading existing PC-clones, and since organizations can and do decree what their employees will use, that might result in some added market share for Apple.
The Future -- The future may be here, and it may be better than some people expected, but I think the best part of the Power Macs is the avenues they open up. I'm not talking about whole new classes of programs as Apple is, although I never quibble about interesting applications. I think the power under the Power Mac hoods must be used elsewhere first. We need computers that use processor power not to make new tasks possible, but to significantly ease existing tasks. This is an important distinction, because even though the Power Macs may make simplify three-dimensional rendering, they cannot bring it to the masses, since the masses don't want to do 3-D rendering. Instead of creating new tasks that we can attempt to perform, but which really require even more processor power, how about adding things like (to name a few random ideas off the top of my head) AppleSearch technology built into the Finder, three-dimensional interface elements to improve recognizability, optionally animated icons to improve the awful icons bars we currently have, better speech recognition, and Newton-like intelligent assistance? Perhaps in System 7.5. For the time being, Apple has done an excellent job with the Power Macs, and we wish them the best of luck.
Non-profit, non-commercial publications and Web sites may reprint or link to articles if full credit is given. Others please contact us. We do not guarantee accuracy of articles. Caveat lector. Publication, product, and company names may be registered trademarks of their companies. TidBITS ISSN 1090-7017.
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