A Lot of Fuss Over . . . Nothing?

Crowds weren't lined up around the block outside Computer Town in Phoenix Saturday, anticipating OS X's release. In fact, shortly after the suburban Phoenix store's 10 a.m. opening, employees outnumbered customers four to one -- and that one customer was buying Microsoft Office 2001.

Chalk it up to a slower economy and a product that many Mac enthusiasts and early adopters probably preordered online, says Computer Town assistant manager Brent Krah. But Computer Town employees figure that OS X business will continue beyond March 24, from customers who wait to switch over to the new operating system to those seeking tech support once they've installed it.

"We'll get our fair share of service calls in the next few weeks, I have no doubt," Krah says.

Still, even with sparse crowds on hand to see OS X running on a PowerBook G3 and a G4 Tower, Computer Town has seen an increase in the number of people asking about the new OS as the launch date drew closer.

"I haven't had a huge number of people, but the people I have had have been excited," says Krah, who's already fielded questions on compatibility, the Aqua interface, and OS X's learning curve. "People are much more interested in how hard it will be to relearn the OS rather than if it's stable."

What has Computer Town been telling Mac users mulling the jump to OS X? For enthusiasts looking for greater stability, Krah says, the store is suggesting that they make the jump. More casual users with older Performa models running earlier versions of Mac OS should probably consider a hardware upgrade before jumping to OS X, he adds.

"Probably the best thing is to come in and see it up close," Krah says. You can read all you want about OS X, but you're not going to be inspired about it unless you get a chance to get your hands on it and see it for yourself."

Krah, who has had a chance to use OS X, says he's thrilled with it, "except that it doesn't work with my Epson 980 [printer] . . . I'm really impressed with the amount of shareware out there on VersionTracker."

So will OS X be the kind of jolt needed to shake the Mac out of the doldrums that have hit the entire PC industry. "As a [Apple] shareholder, I hope so," Krah laughs.

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