All the media attention this week has been on the announcement of the new iPhone 3G during Steve Jobs’s keynote at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference. But for Mac users there was another huge story that day, one that took up only a few seconds of the keynote: Snow Leopard, a brand-new version of Mac OS X.
Apple has been working on Mac OS X for more than a decade, and the public has been able to use it for eight years. In that time, the replacement for the classic Mac OS has grown through several stages: it began in an awkward, half-functional state, progressed into a fully functional replacement for OS 9 with increasing levels of speed and stability, and finally became an entrenched system that advanced by acquiring whizzy new features such as Spotlight and Time Machine.
Early in Mac OS X’s history, the operating system sped up with each new version, as Apple engineers tuned the code and got it working better. But those improvements have faded, and the last two releases have certainly been no faster than their predecessors. Instability, too, has returned to Mac OS X. (The title of my predecessor Rick LePage’s opinion piece, “What I Hate About Leopard,” says it all.)
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Yes, I’ve touched it.
Okay, so maybe touching the iPhone 3G is not as impressive a feat as it was to touch the first iPhone when it was announced back in January 2007. But still, for the next month I’ve got one up on most members of the general public.
With that in mind, let me tell you what I found.
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We’re very lucky here at Macworld. Both in print and on the Web, we’ve got an amazingly diverse readership. Among our readers are some incredibly geeky, tech-savvy people who could code a perl script in their head or disassemble a MacBook Pro with the power of their mind. And also, some people who are relatively novice Mac users, who avidly read what we write in order to flex and improve their Mac skills.
The latest book in our Superguide series, The Macworld Mac Basics Superguide - Leopard Edition, is for both kinds of readers. If you’re someone who’s struggling with the basics of operating a Mac, or someone who’s a new user of Mac OS X—perhaps you’ve made the switch from Windows to Mac—this new 88-page guide will get you up to speed.
Written in an easy-to-follow style, the Macworld Mac Basics Superguide - Leopard Edition will give you detailed tips and information about using the Finder and the Dock, switching between programs, using Apple’s Spotlight search tool, opening and saving your files, and setting up system preferences and user accounts. We’ve tossed in some basic security and troubleshooting advice to keep your Mac up and running smoothly. And our own Dan Frakes, who pens our Mac Gems blog and magazine column, has assembled a list of 23 great low-cost programs that will enhance your Mac experience.
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Every now and then, I read something that makes me fall off my chair in shock. In this case, the text in question is in a New York Times article, “The Guessing Game Has Begun on the Next iPhone” (hat tip to John Gruber for the link).
The Times story is largely what you’d expect: an attempt to discuss the anticipation about the next-generation iPhone we’re all sure is coming next month, but about which there’s precious little actual information. But a brief detour to discuss Apple’s repeatedly stated goal of selling 10 million iPhones during calendar-year 2008 is desperately off course and veering into crazyland:
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After almost a year of strong sales… the iPhone has settled down to a less-than-spectacular pace: roughly 600,000 units a month, according to the company. Apple… sold just 1.7 million phones in the first three months of this year, meaning it must sell more than 8 million phones to reach Mr. Jobs’s publicly stated goal of selling 10 million iPhones in 2008.
“They’re going to have a difficult time” hitting that number, said Edward Snyder, an analyst at Charter Equity Research. He said that Nokia, the world’s largest maker of cellphones, sells more phones every week than Apple has sold since the iPhone’s introduction.
May 6, 1998 was a Wednesday. I used to work at home most Wednesdays. That day I got a call from my boss’s assistant instructing me to hurry in to the office. Which means I was probably not wearing pants when I first heard about the existence of the iMac.
Those were funny days, the days before live coverage of every Apple new-product announcement. Not only was the technology not really far enough along to allow for such a thing, but nobody really cared. In fact, the only person from Macworld to attend Apple’s event at the Flint Center in Cupertino was the editor in chief. He did it largely because someone needed to do it. In a sad case of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, in early 1998 Apple had held a series of secret product briefings for minor Mac updates. We were tired of it. So only one of us went.
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Macworld gets around. In addition to the site you’re reading, you can find Macworlds on the web in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany, Spain, and Italy. After all, the “I” in IDG—the name of our parent company—stands for International for a reason.
With Apple’s recent resurgence, the word is spreading. Late last year our colleagues at Australian Macworld launched their new web site. But there’s been an Australian Macworld magazine for years. The latest trend is for countries to launch Macworlds without any print magazine at all. How very 21st Century.
So I’ve been informed by Bjørn Unnersaker, editor in chief of PC World Norge (which does publish in print as well as online), that as of today a Norwegian Macworld has hit the scene. (There was a print version way back when, but it hasn't been around for a long while.) If you’re in Norway (or, heck, if you’re not, just for kicks), be sure to check it out.
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Danny Allen, one of my colleagues across the hall at PC World, is working on a story about computer products that never quite made it into the hands of customers. As you might expect, Apple has its share of those products, and so Danny and I spent some time talking about legendary (and not-so-legendary) vaporware products from Apple, and I volunteered to dig up some information about a few of them.
The most talked-about and hyped Apple product to never exist is probably Copland, the first Mac OS 8. Those of you who weren’t following the Mac in the mid-’90s might be shocked to discover that the Mac OS 8 we remember today was not supposed to exist. Mac OS 8 as we know it came together only after one of Apple’s first attempts to replace the classic Mac OS crashed and burned. That project was code-named Copland, and Apple spent more than a year promoting it as the future of the Mac. (Somewhere in my archive I’ve got an “OS 8: Hands-On Experience” T-Shirt from Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference. Attendees of that conference ended up being just about the only ones who ever got hands-on time with Copland.)
In any event, just outside my office lurks a metal filing cabinet full of CD-ROMs containing digital data for every issue of Macworld for more than a decade. And so in order to help Danny out, I dug out files from the July 1996 issue of Macworld, featuring an up close look at the Mac OS 8 that would never come to be.
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