Mac OS X Beta Diary: It's All About Classic

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Mac OS X is still working great. In fact, my computer at home (a Power Mac G4/400) crashed so many times this weekend (it's running Mac OS 9) that I was tempted to buy a copy of the beta to run at home. I'm tired of the constant crashing, and thus far Mac OS X hasn't done that to me, which brings me to a pleasant observation: OS X is pretty solid, as far as I can tell.

So far, I've only had classic applications die on me, and Eudora is about as stable as Jell-O at a dance party. But aside from the built-in Mail application -- which I like, don't get me wrong, but it's slow and buggy -- there's nothing to run in Carbon or Cocoa now. So I'll have to wait for at least a Carbon release of Eudora or Outlook Express, whichever comes first.

Now is the time for software vendors to get a leg up on the competition by releasing Carbon versions of their applications! I know from my own experience with Mac OS X that if something is ready to run natively on this new operating system, beta testers will run it! Right now, for example, I'm using Panic's Audion MP3 player instead of Casady and Greene's SoundJam MP since there's currently no publicly available version of SoundJam for OS X. Now, I know they're working on one (and had one available for the developer releases of Mac OS X that preceded the public beta), but until they release it, I've got a great MP3 player with Audion. Who knows, I may switch...until I need to rip my CDs, anyway.

Microsoft has provided me with a great Web browser with IE 5, and I'll use it before I'll go digging around in my OS 9 folder for Netscape. So, should Microsoft release a version of Outlook Express for Mac OS X? I'd be on that like mud on a frog, and Eudora would fall by the wayside. Sure, there are features in Eudora that I like, but who knows, maybe I'm missing out on something that Outlook can provide?

Another thing these newly updated applications provide is pretty icons. I'm all for 128-pixel icons because they look nice. Next to my Eudora icon, the Classic icon looks like some kind of expensive ornament. (Sorry to keep using Eudora as an example; I don't mean to suggest the software is bad -- it's just one of the few applications I run in Classic.) The new icons also scale nicely when you have the Dock set to magnify. In contrast to the new, the old icons look just awful.

Interestingly enough, Office 2001 -- while not a Carbon application -- does come with OS X-specific icons. So while I'm waiting for Word 2001 to load in Classic mode, at least I can watch a pretty bouncing icon.

So, here's my wish list for OS X applications. I want at least a Carbon version of Eudora, Palm Desktop (or a decent substitute that will sync with my Palm), and Word. Until then, it's all about Classic.

An odd observation: you can quit the Classic application, and have OS X continue to run Classic applications. Weird. I wonder if it's a bug of some kind?

Another weird problem I've had with Classic: the whole thing freezes sometimes, yet the windows stay in front. (That is, the other OS X applications are drawn behind the Classic applications, which are frozen.) This is a true testament to the stability of OS X, considering it doesn't miss a beat. But it's a true pain in the rear to have to restart the whole machine to clear up the hole in the screen caused by a crashed Classic application.

More next time. Now, back to work...running OS X, of course.

Got a question for Brett Larson? Scroll down and ask him in this story's forum.

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