During his keynote address opening Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose yesterday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs put to rest any uncertainty developers had about the status of Mac OS 9 — the company’s “Classic” operating system.
“Please join me in a moment of silence as we remember an old friend — Mac OS 9,” Jobs said during his keynote. “It isn’t dead for our customers yet, but it’s dead for you.”
With those words, Jobs closed the book on a chapter in Apple’s history for the company’s core developers. From this day forward, Apple will focus all of its development efforts on OS X — developers that want to stay with Apple need to do the same.
While the words from Jobs seemed to surprise some longtime Mac users — especially those that haven’t made the switch to OS X — developers saw the writing on the wall.
“I think that at this point the evolve-or-die decision is clear. Any developer who hasn’t already figured out that Mac OS 9 was end-of-life, and who consequently has been delaying or refusing support for Mac OS X, is going to become a grape in the path of the steamroller of progress,” said Rich Siegel, president of
Bare Bones Software. “Those of us who have been developing Mac OS X software for a while already knew that 9 was going to reach its end of life sooner or later, so it wasn’t a huge surprise to us.”
Ammon Skidmore from
echoed the comments of many developers and users. “For me personally OS 9 has been dead for some time, especially for development. I still have to boot into Classic occasionally, but look forward to being able to remove it entirely from my hard drive.”
Tim O’Reilly, president of
O’Reilly and Associates, thinks the message is necessary for developers to move on with future plans for their products under OS X. “I think it shows terrific leadership on Apple’s part. They aren’t trying to play the odds and have their cake and eat it too. They are giving strong guidance to developers about where they want them to go and what kind of commitment they want them to make. A big thumbs up. No pain, no gain. Backwards compatibility can really retard progress when you’re trying to make bold changes.”
Currently some developers are making their software compatible with Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X. While Apple has tried to make it as easy as possible for developers to support both operating systems, some see the death of OS 9 as a cost savings as well.
“I don’t think it [the death of OS 9] is that significant, as we all knew it would have to die eventually,” said David Gratton, vice president of
Totally Hip Software. “However, it provides us with a clear indication that developing for OS 9 will soon be over. This is important for us as a small developer, because presently we need to maintain development and support for both OS X and OS 9. Eventually dropping OS 9 from our product mix will help save us money, and improve development time.”
The death of OS 9 was just the beginning for Steve Jobs yesterday — the company quickly followed up the funeral of the company’s Classic operating system with a sneak peek of the future of Mac OS X.
Code-named Jaguar, the next update to Mac OS X will see many new features and performance enhancements. Apple will overhaul the Finder adding multithreading support and an integrated search function. OS X’s Quartz engine will undergo a rewrite, creating what Apple calls Quartz Extreme.
Apple also announced yesterday that iChat the company’s newest iApp would be available in Jaguar. iChat is Apple’s instant messaging software that’s compatible with AOL’s AIM instant messaging client. “We are thrilled to be working with AOL on this,” Jobs said. “They’re even adopting some of the features we’re pioneering back into their app.”
The message delivered by Jobs yesterday was necessary and timely. The update for OS X with its many enhancements and features will make the transition to the operating system much easier for users. Now with a clear message sent to developers, new products should become available for Mac OS X at a steady rate.
Major applications have already come to Mac OS X in past several months such as Microsoft Office v. X, Adobe Photoshop, Macromedia MX and many more. According to Apple, Mac developers have pushed out roughly 3,000 OS X-native applications since the operating system’s March 2001 debut, but Jobs wants to see more people follow the lead of Microsoft and announce OS X-only applications.