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System 7 Pro Ships

Technical Support Coordinator, BAKA Computers

It’s a little less than a year since Apple split Macintosh system software users into two groups, and they’ve done it again. Apple released System 7.1 last October with a new policy requiring users to purchase an upgrade, unless they received the software with a new Macintosh, thus ending their long history of free upgrades for existing users. This time Apple has decided to support two separate levels of System software: a standard version which will still be called "System 7," and a more fully-featured version dubbed "System 7 Pro."

System 7 Pro consists of System 7.1.1 and QuickTime 1.6.1, plus AppleScript 1.0 and PowerTalk 1.0, each of which adds new technology to Apple’s operating system. Finder 7.1.3 and System 7.1.1, which ship with System 7 Pro, exist solely to provide compatibility with AppleScript and PowerTalk, and according to Apple include no other changes.

Apparently, more than 70 applications already support AppleScript’s desktop automation capabilities, including Excel, FileMaker Pro, PageMaker, and QuarkXPress. Through the use of CE Software’s QuicKeys, still more applications can be manipulated with AppleScript. Meanwhile, more than 35 third-party companies have already announced applications that support PowerTalk. Examples include personal gateways that link PowerTalk users to other messaging services, such as voice, fax, paging, and online services; software agents that can be assigned to perform a variety of tasks for users automatically; and team-productivity applications that create custom workflow solutions, such as scheduling, calendaring, and automating approval and document reviews.

Apple believes that most Macintosh users whose computers are on LANs or have modems will want to use System 7 Pro, because of its automation and network collaboration features. Apple claims that about 70 percent of its installed base of eight million System 7 users fall into this "non-stand-alone" category, since their Macs are connected to other computers or communications devices via networks or modems.

"One size fits all" has rarely been true in the computer industry, and Apple has recognized this fact by creating a new track for its system software to follow. By keeping System 7 and System 7 Pro separate, Apple makes it easier for users to leave unneeded software off their computers, thus conserving valuable memory, hard disk storage space, and processor time. The move also allows Apple to raise the bar a few notches and require a higher hardware configuration for the new system software than most Macs have right out of the box. System 7 Pro requires a minimum of 5 MB of RAM (most users will be comfortable with 8 MB or more), and Apple recommends 8 MB of RAM on Macs that will run the PowerShare Collaboration Servers product.

This release may further confuse the System software field slightly, but as a result fewer end users are likely to be confused by their Macs’ initial configuration.

The System 7 Pro Personal Upgrade Kit (item number M0439LL/A) should be available soon from Apple dealers and software resellers. A $50 mail-in rebate will be offered to customers who purchased the System 7.1 Personal Upgrade Kit or System 7.1 Update Kit between 15-Aug-93 and 01-Nov-93, and who also purchase the System 7 Pro Personal Upgrade Kit between 01-Oct-93 and 15-Nov-93.

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