Jobs has spoken, and we bring you Apple’s new hardware and software strategies. For hardware, think new PowerBook G3s and the extremely slick iMac, and for software, contemplate Mac OS X. Also, Adam reviews InformINIT and passes on final words about multiple monitors. News includes the reincarnation of Claris Organizer, new Apple Stores, the retirement of Disinfectant, and the reappearance of Quicken for the Macintosh.
Claris Organizer Reincarnated as PalmPilot MacPac — 3Com’s Palm Computing division has announced plans to base the next version of its Macintosh desktop software for the PalmPilot and Palm III handhelds on Claris Organizer, which 3Com purchased from Apple for an undisclosed sum. (For more about the PalmPilot, see Jeff Carlson’s recent series of articles.) The upcoming Palm MacPac should also include an extensible Macintosh HotSync conduit (essentially, the link that ferries data from Palm devices to the Mac), enabling developers to include support for Palm-based data in their applications. Registered owners of MacPac 1.0 will be able to download the new software in several months for free (it will be available online for 60 days after its release). New Palm device owners will be able to order the MacPac (which includes a cable adapter to work with Macintosh ADB ports) for $14.95. [JLC]
New Apple Storefronts Perform — Slightly lost within last week’s hardware announcements were the openings of the Apple Store for Education and the Apple Store UK, the first step in making the Apple Store available to users in Sweden, Holland, France, Germany, Australia, and Japan. It’s great to see Apple finally opening up online ordering to the education community and to international Macintosh users. Success came quickly to the Apple Store for Education, as it received over $1 million in orders during its first 24 hours of business. Apple also noted that thanks to the new PowerBook G3s, the main Apple Store received a record $1.9 million in orders in a single 24-hour period. [ACE]
John Norstad Retires Disinfectant — John Norstad announced last week that he has retired Disinfectant, his free anti-virus utility. John considered updating the utility to combat the recently discovered Autostart-9805 worm (see "Autostart Worm Breaks Malware Silence" in TidBITS-428) but decided to direct his software’s loyal users to commercial utilities such as Dr. Solomon’s Anti-Virus Toolkit, Virex, or Symantec AntiVirus for Macintosh. His announcement said, "I made this decision not because of the new Autostart-9805 worm, but rather because of the widespread and dangerous Microsoft macro virus problem." (See TidBITS’s article series on macro viruses.) He felt that Disinfectant had been inadequate protection for some time, and continuing to update it would unfairly give users a false sense of security. John began work on Disinfectant in the spring of 1988, and Northwestern University released the first version to the public in March of 1989. [MHA]
Quicken Speeds Back to Mac — Less than three weeks after Intuit publicly discontinued further development of Quicken for the Macintosh (see "Financial Competition?" in TidBITS-427), Apple and Intuit have announced a recommitment to future versions of the financial-management software. According to a joint press release, Intuit changed its mind after learning Apple’s plans for the consumer market, which has been stagnant in recent months due to Apple’s focus on high-end Power Mac G3 machines. In fact, Quicken 98 Deluxe will ship with Apple’s forthcoming consumer-oriented iMac. Intuit will continue to promote Quicken 98 and plans to ship a new version of Quicken in 1999. In addition, Intuit will continue to create Web-based features for Mac users. [JLC]
If the Mac’s support for multiple monitors weren’t one of my favorite bragging points, I’d have stopped these notes long ago. However, useful information continues to trickle in, much of it on TidBITS Talk, and it’s of sufficient interest to pass on here as well.
First, Tarik Sivonen <[email protected]> comments that an article by Chris O’Malley in PC Computing’s May 1998 issue reviews 17-inch and 19-inch monitors, and more importantly, includes the results of usability testing and return-on-investment analysis. The conclusion? In comparison with a 15-inch monitor, a 19-inch monitor can pay for itself within two months. Overall productivity gains in spreadsheet tasks, word processing, and Web browsing increased between about 12 percent and 27 percent for users of 19-inch monitors (again, as compared to those using 15-inch monitors). 17-inch monitors were almost as good for word processing and Web browsing, though not as good for spreadsheet work.
Second, readers submitted additional ways of recovering windows and dialog boxes you can’t see after disconnecting a second monitor.
If your Mac supports duplicate monitors (video mirroring), you may be able to recover windows by dragging one onto the other in the Monitors & Sound control panel. Not all desktop Macs have this feature.
Install the $10 shareware control panel DragAnyWindow (a 111K download) from the prolific Alessandro Levi Montalcini. DragAnyWindow enables you to move any window, including dialogs, alerts, game windows, and windows that have disappeared. DragAnyWindow would also be useful for older Macs with 9-inch screens when dealing with overly large dialogs.
Install the $10 shareware program Virtual. When you quit Virtual, it moves all open windows onto the main screen. Virtual is a 329K download.
Use Ross Brown’s freeware Virtual Desktop 1.9.2, which, upon launch, adjusts its scroll bars so you can scroll to any existing window or desktop icon. Virtual Desktop is a 217K download
Finally, if you’ve removed only the monitor, also try removing the video card, since sometimes the Mac will see a monitor if the card is still installed.
When I visit my parents, my father and I always sit down at their Macintosh and look at what’s ended up in its System Folder since my last visit. I have a decent idea what many files are, but over the years, the possibilities have begun to overwhelm me. Luckily, even when I’m not positive, I can generally guess whether an extension or control panel is necessary, since my father is ruthless during these sessions. "What’s that?" he’ll ask, pointing at an oddly named extension. "I’m not sure," I’ll reply, "but I think it’s related to synchronizing the colors on your monitor with your printer." "Do I need it?" he’ll demand. "No, I don’t think so." "Then trash it."
Next time, I’m bringing a copy of Dan Frakes’s $15 shareware InformINIT 8.1, the latest release of his huge compendium of descriptions, notes, and information about extensions, control panels, shared libraries, and other denizens of your System Folder from both Apple and other companies. Dan has produced InformINIT for several years, and the latest version includes information about Mac OS 8.1, Microsoft Office 98, and so on.
Be sure to read the "How to use InformINIT" section in InformINIT, or some of the color coding and shorthand notations will befuddle you. Dan has helpfully marked items specific to Mac OS 8 and Mac OS 8.1, items that are compatible with either release, 68K-specific items, and so on. In addition, he has sprinkled URLs throughout InformINIT; clicking the tiny NN or IE buttons next to a URL opens the associated Web site in either Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer.
I’m impressed with the work Dan must have put in to research, compile, and categorize this information. It’s a herculean undertaking, and reportedly, even Apple’s technical support folks use InformINIT (as should anyone who supports Macs). Dan also has extensive information on versions of system software since 7.5.3, including the Mac models that each version supports, plus lists of known problems and incompatibilities. If you’re considering switching system software, a quick read through appropriate sections in InformINIT might reveal important information.
My main complaints with InformINIT relate to the fact that it’s a stand-alone document in Green Mountain Software’s DOCMaker. Although DOCMaker offers features necessary for such a large work as InformINIT, such as Find, multiple methods of navigation, styled text, graphics, and URL launching, many of those features don’t go far enough. For instance, the Find dialog box is system modal, which means not only can’t you do anything else in InformINIT with the Find dialog open, you can’t even switch to another application and work there. URL launching is nice, but if DOCMaker supported Internet Config, InformINIT wouldn’t have to include buttons for both Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer. And finally, I’d appreciate being allowed to change the font size – InformINIT’s Geneva 9-point default is too small for me; but DOCMaker offers no zooming or font modification capabilities. Dan said that he’s planning on releasing a larger-type version of InformINIT.
So, next time you’re wondering what "jgdw.ppc" is (and if you can delete it), download InformINIT and do a search. Make sure to register your copy – although InformINIT is content, rather than code, it’s still $15 shareware and Dan deserves support for the service he’s done for the Macintosh community in compiling InformINIT. InformINIT is a 467K download from the mirror sites listed at the InformINIT Web page below.
Steve Jobs breathed fire into the Macintosh world last week by announcing new computers that have enthralled Mac users and press alike. The first announcement concerned the new PowerBooks G3 series (not to be confused with the short-lived PowerBook G3 that shared the 3400’s frame), whose rumored features and form factor tantalized Mac aficionados for months. The other announcement caught everyone by surprise: the iMac, a stylish all-in-one Internet computer shrouded in secrecy for ten months, heralds Apple’s return to the consumer marketplace.
The new PowerBook G3 and the iMac fill two of the four slots in Apple’s new hardware strategy. Apple plans to sell desktop and portable entries for the consumer and professional markets. The Power Mac G3s and the PowerBook G3s satisfy those slots for the professional market, and the iMac fills the slot for consumers wanting a desktop machine. The remaining slot is waiting for a portable Mac aimed at consumers, and at WWDC today Jobs hinted that Apple would fill it in 1999 with a computer based on the now-defunct eMate.
The Sleek Shall Inherit the Earth — Volkswagen is advertising its new Beetle as being reverse-engineered from UFOs, but it may have to give up that claim in the face of Apple’s new PowerBook G3 line. The sleek portables are available in a variety of prices and configurations from Apple’s online store and online vendors such as TidBITS sponsors Cyberian Outpost and Small Dog Electronics (see the sponsors area at the top of the issue for details). These PowerBooks are the speediest the company has produced, featuring PowerPC 750 processors at 250 MHz and 292 MHz, and a 233 MHz PowerPC 740 chip (the 740 lacks the Level 2 backside cache of the 750, which lowers both performance and price). Buyers can choose from three displays: a 12.1-inch passive matrix screen capable of displaying thousands of colors, and active-matrix screens measuring 13.3 inches and 14.1 inches (diagonal) that display millions of colors; external monitors of up to 20 inches can also display millions of colors, though video mirroring is unfortunately the only multi-screen option.
The new PowerBook G3 series also features an S-Video out port on models with the two larger displays, built-in 10Base-T Ethernet, two expansion bays that can hold a floppy drive, a battery (or two batteries using both bays), and a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive. (The floppy drive is offered as optional equipment on the least expensive models.) Another major change is the keyboard: a new Function key (marked "fn") makes the full range of 105 keys available, and the arrow keys are now placed in an inverted-T layout as on the PowerBook 2400. The new machines also sport a few surprises, such as full support for hot-swapping ADB devices (long a source of Macintosh voodoo that could possibly fry important internal components).
Apple has packaged this overall boost in features and power in a curvaceous case design: although the width and length are slightly larger than the 3400 (but still weighing the same 7.7 pounds), the unit is only two inches high when closed. Unfortunately, the G3 series has lost its feet; like the PowerBook 1400, the back cannot be raised to provide a slanted keyboard surface. Still, the new PowerBooks are, we dare say, rather sexy in a field of flat rectangles.
Welcome, iMac! Steve Jobs last week also presented what is in many ways the first interesting new Macintosh in quite some time, the consumer- and Internet-oriented iMac. What’s fascinating about the iMac is its combination of hardware features, low price, and unique translucent industrial design. The iMac features a 233 MHz PowerPC G3 processor with a 66 MHz bus, 512K of backside level 2 cache, 32 MB RAM (expandable to 128 MB), 4 GB IDE hard disk, 24x CD-ROM, built-in 15-inch monitor capable of 1024 by 768 pixels of resolution, built-in 10/100Base-T Ethernet, built-in 33.6 Kbps modem, two 12 Mbps Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports, 4 Mbps infrared port (IrDA), built-in stereo speakers, Apple USB keyboard, and an Apple USB mouse. Not mentioned were a floppy drive, SCSI port, LocalTalk port, ADB port, or PCI slots. The price is slated to be $1,299 when the iMac ships in August. Bundled software includes at least Mac OS 8.1, Quicken 98 Deluxe, AppleWorks (previously ClarisWorks), FileMaker Pro, and Microsoft Internet Explorer 4, although Jobs indicated that more might be added, especially games.
The lack of a SCSI port, LocalTalk port, and floppy drive has prompted some discussion on TidBITS Talk about how one would back up an iMac. Network-based backup is of course a possibility for those on networks, and a few Internet-based backup services could conceivably work for small amounts of important data. However, real backup and file transfer will have to come in the form of new devices that use the iMac’s Universal Serial Bus (USB) connectors. For storage devices, 12 Mbps is plenty of throughput, and Imation and Panasonic have already announced a USB-based SuperDisk, which supports 1.4 MB and 720K floppy disks, plus proprietary 120 MB disks. It’s not hard to imagine Iomega and SyQuest adding USB versions of their popular removable drives as well.
We’ve seen too few interesting industrial designs of late, though the 20th Anniversary Mac was a breath of fresh air. The new iMac resembles no other machine and appears to presage a new attitude from Apple toward the price and image conscious consumer market. It’s cheap, it’s neat, and it’s designed to connect to the Internet from the start. No word yet on whether buyers can order different-colored translucent cases, but Jobs’s reference to the importance of Macintosh "fashion" at this week’s World Wide Developer Conference would suggest possible options to avoid clashing with one’s surroundings. We reserve the right to change our minds once we use one, but the iMac currently looks like a winner.
During his keynote at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) today, Steve Jobs announced future directions for key Macintosh software technologies, including QuickTime, Java, and the Mac OS.
QuickTime — The first software demonstration featured long-time QuickTime architect Peter Hoddie showing QuickTime streaming technology using the RTP (Real Time Protocol) standard. While Steve Jobs mugged for a video camera connected to an on-stage Macintosh, Peter showed how an existing QuickTime-capable application on another machine can receive and display a live video stream without any changes to the application. Anyone who’s used Real Network’s Real Player knows that bandwidth requirements can make streaming media impractical over the Internet, but QuickTime’s established presence may help it challenge Real Networks and Microsoft’s "universal player" as a way to provide online, real-time media. Apple expects to ship QuickTime’s streaming technology in the third quarter of this year.
Java — Jobs also promised that Apple will deliver a unified Java virtual machine (VM) for the Mac OS in a similar time frame. This Java VM will be compatible with Microsoft’s Java implementation and support version 1.1.6 of Sun’s Java Development Kit (JDK) plus "Swing," a set of interface tools that enable Java programs to use platform-specific interfaces. Jobs also pledged that Apple’s unified Java VM will deliver substantially enhanced performance, such that a 300 MHz G3 system would compare favorably with a 400 MHz Pentium system. Such improvements would be welcome: Macintosh Java implementations currently run as much as four to five times slower than on comparable PCs.
Mac OS 8 & Rhapsody — Most significantly, Jobs’s WWDC keynote address outlined a major shift in Apple’s operating system strategy, culminating in Mac OS X (Mac OS "Ten").
For the past year, Apple has promoted a two-tiered operating system strategy. The first tier consisted of the existing Mac OS, with releases continuing until early in the next century. The second tier was built on Rhapsody, a modern operating system built on technologies Apple acquired from NeXT and featuring protected memory, preemptive multitasking, fast network and file system performance, and much more. Rhapsody would include a "Blue Box," essentially a single application that would boot the Mac OS and let users run Mac OS programs, though without Rhapsody’s benefits and advanced features. Gradually, Rhapsody would replace the Mac OS entirely. (See our report on last year’s WWDC for details on Rhapsody and the Blue Box.)
The major problem with Rhapsody – as many developers have pointed out – is that applications must be rewritten to take advantage of Rhapsody’s desirable features. Existing Mac OS applications wouldn’t receive any of these benefits, and many developers would be in a situation of having to maintain multiple code bases to deploy their programs for both the Mac OS and Rhapsody.
From Apple’s perspective, another problem with Rhapsody is that it’s not the Mac OS. The Mac OS currently boasts 22 million users (and Apple claims another 20 million or so have access to it), plus more than 12,000 applications. In contrast, Rhapsody has essentially no applications and no users. Further, the Mac OS is a major source of revenue for Apple – sales of Mac OS 8 and 8.1 exceeded even Apple’s expectations, so clearly users like the Mac OS, like their Mac OS applications, and want more. Instead of looking at the Mac OS as something to replace, Apple needed to consider the Mac OS, in Jobs’s words, the "crown jewel" of its software strategy. And instead of looking at Mac OS applications as something to be run inside a "box," Apple needed to find a way to make existing Mac OS applications first-class citizens under a new, modern operating system.
Carbon — Apple began to examine the more than 8,000 APIs (Application Programming Interfaces – hooks and services in an operating system upon which applications rely) in the Mac OS to see which could be supported directly under Rhapsody. Apple found that about 6,000 of the Mac OS APIs could be supported, while roughly 2,000 (including some older, little-used portions) could not. Then, Apple looked at 100 current Macintosh applications to see how often they used the 2,000 unsupportable APIs. On average, they found that 90 percent of the API calls these programs made to the Mac OS could be supported directly under Rhapsody. If these applications could rewrite (or "tune up") the ten percent of their API calls that would no longer be supported, those Mac OS applications could gain all the benefits of Rhapsody. Furthermore, developers could preserve most of their code – and most of their Mac OS programming experience – and gain all of Rhapsody’s benefits.
Apple collected the supportable APIs – plus some new services – into a core package called Carbon ("upon which all living things are based"), and showed it privately to key developers including Adobe, Microsoft, and Macromedia. Their response was apparently very positive, and Adobe demonstrated a preliminary port of Photoshop 5.0 running on top of Carbon that a few engineers produced (with some help from Apple) in a little over a week – with time out for barbecues, visiting relatives, and shipping the final version of Photoshop 5.0. Apple has also assembled a preliminary specification for Carbon for developers at WWDC, along with a "Carbon Dater" utility that will help developers assess the porting requirements of their particular applications.
Mac OS X — According to Jobs, Carbon will be a key component of Mac OS X, the unification of the Mac OS and Rhapsody. Mac OS X will be fully PowerPC-native and will offer Rhapsody’s advanced features, all presumably based on NeXT technologies and running on top of the Mach kernel. However, Mac OS X will also let Mac OS applications written to the Carbon APIs be first-class citizens, gaining all the benefits of Mac OS X. Further, Apple plans to ship Carbon as an add-on for Mac OS 8 systems, so applications written (or re-written) to the Carbon API will also function under current versions of the Mac OS. Jobs also said that most Mac OS applications that aren’t revised for the Carbon API should still run under Mac OS X, although they won’t be able to take advantage of the operating system’s new features. (It’s unclear if this means they’d be running inside a Blue Box .)
Apple plans to begin seeding Mac OS X to developers early in 1999, with a final release in the third quarter of 1999 optimized for G3-class systems. In the meantime, Apple plans to ship Mac OS 8.5 in September, and Mac OS 8.6 in the first quarter of 1999. Rhapsody will also be released before Mac OS X, and will serve as a transition to Mac OS X. Rhapsody DR2 is available now (and was distributed to developers at WWDC); Apple says it plans to ship Rhapsody 1.0 later this year.
Unanswered Questions — With Mac OS X, Apple has promised the Holy Grail of Macintosh computing: the best features of an advanced operating system with a high degree of compatibility for current applications. It’s never been done before: not by NeXT, not by Be, and certainly not by Apple. Apple’s stated plans for Carbon and Mac OS X seem promising, and if reactions of developers at the Seattle viewing of the WWDC keynote satellite feed are any indication, developers prefer the idea of revising their applications for Mac OS X to rewriting them for Rhapsody. However, it’s worth noting that not all programs will have Carbon support 90 percent of the Mac OS APIs they use. Some applications – particularly extensions, utilities, and low-level tools – may make more extensive use of the areas of the Mac OS that Carbon cannot support.. Admittedly, some of these utilities might be pointless under Mac OS X, but others might be crucial to many Mac OS users.
Apple released preliminary developer information about Carbon today, although I haven’t had a chance to go over it in any detail. I hope that Apple will solicit feedback from Mac OS developers and work with them to further clarify the Mac OS X architecture.