Road To Expo: System Software & Utilities

The past year the Mac OS has seen some dramatic changes, and the future of the OS looks better all the time. Macintosh Internet rumor sites may have us expecting more than we'll get at Expo, but don't fret -- there's still exciting news coming your way.

Once just another free download from the Internet, the Linux operating system is quickly becoming popular and easier to use. Though Linux still isn't as easy to use as the Mac OS, the Linux companies attending Macworld Expo do have news: It's going to get easier.

Early adopters of Linux know that it's tough to get the system installed and running. But both Terra Soft (makers of Yellow Dog Linux) and LinuxPPC have gone to great efforts to make the installation easier and faster. Among the exciting developments to come from Linux in the near future is direct booting to Linux -- right now you must pass through the Mac OS to get to Linux. With this capability in place, you won't need to install the Mac OS to get Linux, and Linux will be able to run on PowerPC-based computers manufactured by companies other than Apple.

With an updated Macintosh operating system already on the market -- and another set to debut next year -- the makers of security and antivirus utilities aren't looking to reinvent the wheel. Instead, as January's Macworld Expo approaches, utilities makers are rolling out updated products that aim to work with the latest system software.

"The big question we want to know is, are customers who buy the iBook and the iMac excited about buying software? Or do they just want to get on the Internet?" says David Loomstein, Symantec 's Macintosh unit team leader and senior product manager.

But that's not the only question facing utilities makers going into 2000. Symantec developers also are trying to gauge Mac users' interest in problem-solving software for OS 9, Loomstein says.

That's an issue on the mind of other systems software companies. Take Power On Software, which has already started shipping a new version of Now Up-to-Date & Contact, its contact manager and scheduling product. Version 3.8 makes the product compatible with Mac OS 9.

But DiskLock, the security utility Power On bought from Symantec in April, still doesn't run on OS 9. Power On expects to announce an OS 9-compatible version of DiskLock by Macworld Expo.

Intego also is rolling out an upgrade of its Internet security utility, NetBarrier. Version 1.3 promises better compatibility with OS 9 and smoother operation with whatever Internet connection your using.

Bringing existing programs in line with OS 9 isn't the only issue utilities makers face. A recent spate of high-profile computer viruses has raised the profile of antivirus software. While Intego is mum on the details, look for the company to unveil a new antivirus utility at Macworld Expo.

For its part, Symantec isn't planning any major product announcements at Macworld Expo. But it will join with Iomega to bundle its Norton Utilities and Norton Antivirus products on a Zip disk. A limited supply of the Symantec-Zip bundle, available only at the Expo, will sell for $100.

Look for some news to come from Dantz Development ( www.dantz.com ) at Expo. Dantz Technical Director Eric Ulman says they "will be announcing [the company's] OS X plans" and also will be giving the details on some "exciting new device support." When Macworld asked Ulman about his company's recent release of a Windows version of its Retrospect backup software -- a first for Dantz -- Ulman said Dantz is "absolutely not abandoning the Mac." The company has a "huge customer base," he said, and plans on continuing to innovate in its Mac software line.

Go to: Macworld Expo Central
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