At its webcast event this week, Apple Computer announced that Mac OS 9 will be available in stores in the U.S. and Canada beginning 23-Oct-99 for an estimated retail price of $99; Apple has been accepting orders via the online Apple Store for some time. Apple is billing Mac OS 9 as "your Internet co-pilot" and promoting Sherlock 2, which features an interface similar to the little-loved QuickTime Player and offers "channels" focussed on your local computer or on Internet-related activities like news, reference, and shopping. Mac OS 9 will also mark the return of the Keychain (a single utility that securely manages passwords for Internet sites, local servers, and even application programs), built-in data encryption features, basic multi-user capabilities that allow multiple users to share a single Macintosh more easily, enhanced speech recognition capabilities (though not the long-awaited continuous speech recognition), and Internet-based updating of system components. Apple has published a detailed Tech Note outlining many of the changes in Mac OS 9; under-the-hood improvements may cause compatibility problems for some font management utilities and programs that directly access low-level disk structures. Internationalized versions of Mac OS 9 should appear during the coming months. Users in the U.S. and Canada who recently purchased Mac OS 8.5 or a qualifying new Macintosh may be able to upgrade to Mac OS 9 for $20.