The Road to OS X: Carbon Chronicles

If you're a Mac developer and you don't have plans to release a Mac OS X-native version of your application by the end of the year, Steve Jobs has a question for you: What are you waiting for?

Since 1998, Apple has used its annual developers conference as a forum to talk about its plans for OS X. But not this year. The next-generation operating system is now a reality, and for Apple, the question is no longer what can the company do for developers, but rather what can developers do for the company.

"This is a total commitment on Apple's part, and we ask the same from you," said Jobs, as he announced at last month's developers conference that OS X would be preinstalled on every new Mac. "The train has left the station."

And if Mac developers don't want to be left behind, the Apple CEO implied, then they had best hop on board as quickly as possible.

How else is there to interpret Apple's earlier-than-expected decision to preinstall OS X on every Mac? The company was set to make the move during the summer -- most likely at Macworld Expo in July. That would have guaranteed Apple extensive media coverage and an enthusiastic reception from the Mac faithful attending the New York trade show. But by announcing the decision to a gathering of developers, Jobs let software makers and publishers know just how important OS X is to Apple and how badly it wants to see OS X-native applications.

And just in case that point didn't come across, Apple broke out the statistics. During his developers conference keynote, Jobs cited a Macworld subscriber survey which found that 84 percent of those surveyed have OS X-capable systems and 82 percent of current or future OS X users plan to upgrade some or all of their applications as soon as they are available. Most notably, more than half of those surveyed say they will switch from one product to another if it means having an OS X-native application sooner.

The message from Apple to developers is clear: get those OS X-ready products out there quickly, or risk having Mac users take their business elsewhere.

"This presents a problem for some people and an opportunity for others," Jobs said last month.

So far, a number of developers have taken up Jobs's challenge. In the first two months after OS X's debut, more than 600 OS X-native applications have shipped. Notable products to hit the shelves in recent weeks include FileMaker Pro 5.5, the Carbonized version of the popular database application. Micromat is now taking orders for its Drive 10 disk repair and recovery utility; it's set to ship in July. Meanwhile, Microsoft, which has already released a preview version of Internet Explorer for OS X, says a final version of the OS X-native browser will be ready this summer.

More applications are on the way. Apple expects most to come out between this summer and January 2002, with July's Macworld Expo dominated by OS X product news.

Macworld is tracking the progress of some four dozen essential applications as they make the move to OS X. In addition to the software that we've been following since OS X debuted in March, we've added products from Adobe, Bare Bones Software, Corel, MYOB, and Netopia. Keep checking Macworld.com and MacCentral for the latest OS X news on your favorite applications.

JENNIFER SMODISH contributed to this report.

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