Mac OS X is now here and many non-Mac publications are giving it a thumbs-up, albeit with some reservations.
Federal Computer Week
says that the next generation operating system may cause many federal PC buyers to re-examine plans to buy only Wintel PCs. The Power Mac’s RISC (reduced instruction-set computing) processor and Unix operating system are more typical of powerful workstations than PCs, and the Mac could easily win business as a low-priced alternative to many graphics workstations, the article said. Plus, its more open operating system, ability to run existing Mac and Windows programs easily with an emulator and speedy new hardware make it a viable alternative for even users of basic office-productivity tools, it added.
“It should be particularly attractive to those federal users who have both a UNIX workstation and a Windows PC on their desks,” said Federal Computer Week. “A G4 Mac running OS X will be a viable alternative to both machines, easily capable of running all but the most demanding workstation tasks or the most unusual, custom-written Windows applications.
“You’ve got the generic old-line requirements from the government for high-end graphics workstations,” Rich Schmelz, senior director for strategic programs at GTSI, told the publication. “With the DVD drive on there and OS X coming out, it may open up some new applications than in the past. It may not replace the high-end Sun and SGI boxes.”
“We are seeing a huge rise in sales right now,” Lenny Sachs, core product manager for the OAODNS contract for OAO Corp. in Greenbelt, MD, told Federal Computer Week. The contract provides computers to NASA on a three-year lease, making it a quasi seat-management contract. OS X won’t be available on the contract until this fall, but “I anticipate seeing a lot of new Macs this year,” Sachs added.
The G4 Power Mac’s increase in horsepower combined with the UNIX-based OS X will make it a real contender, said Scott Ripley, senior communications specialist for the House of Representatives.
“Apple has never had the hardware to stand up to the bigger iron floating around the back end of IT shops,” he told Federal Computer Week. “I think having a true UNIX underpinning with a true graphical user interface will sway a lot of people.”
The only fly in the ointment is the fact that many applications, including Microsoft’s Office suite, won’t be “X-ised” until fall. Still, Apple will roll out new hardware and software that will force federal agencies to re-examine the Macintosh, according to Federal Computer Week.
San Jose Mercury News
says the “tardy” operating system lives up to its hype.
“Macintosh users have waited a very, very long time to get a modern operating system for their beloved machines,” writers Personal Technology Editor Mike Langberg. “Apple Computer is finally rewarding this endurance with Mac OS X, an outstanding technical and design achievement that zooms the company and its faithful flock into the 21st century.”
But he says there may be two reasons for Mac users to delay upgrading. First, today’s Mac applications — everything from Web browsers to word processors to games — must be rewritten to fully take advantage of what OS X offers. Only a handful of OS X apps are available now, but the number should swell significantly by autumn, Langberg wrote.
Second, Apple made a deliberate decision to push OS X out the door before every piece of this hugely complicated project was finished, he adds. Still, he thinks this was the right move “because Apple needed to prove OS X was real after repeatedly missing earlier launch dates.” These missing pieces — such as full support for CD recorders, DVD-ROM drives and some external hardware — should also be resolved quickly, Langberg added.
“If you’re a rabid Mac fan, the type who puts Apple bumper stickers on your car, by all means go ahead with OS X now,” he said. “You won’t mind the shortage of OS X apps and the missing hardware support, or downloading software “patches” through the Internet as they become available. Ordinary Mac users, who’ve picked the Mac for its ease of use, should wait until the summer Macworld Expo show, running July 17 – 20 in New York. Apple has hinted it will unveil version 10.1 of the Mac OS at the show, adding everything that’s missing today. Independent software developers are also likely to announce their plans for OS X versions of their products.”
Finally, Henry Norr, a veteran Mac journalist, writes in the
San Francisco Chronicle
that, though “Mac true believers may resent the analogy,” the introduction of Mac OS X is the Apple equivalent of Windows 2000 or its predecessor, Windows NT.
“Except that — as you’d expect from Apple — it’s much spiffier than any version of Windows, it delivers superior graphics and typography, and it’s probably easier to use, at least once you’ve mastered its new controls and conventions,” Norr wrote.
After test driving the new operating system for five days, Norr finds some of OS X’s “eye candy” (such as the animations and transparency) somewhat distracting, but thinks that Apple “has done an amazing job of making Mac OS X user-friendly.”
“Installing the system and configuring it for Internet access are amazingly painless,” Norr said. “Built-in software automates some previously tedious tasks, such as retrieving pictures from a digital camera.”
The columnist does think that there’s still room for improvement on the ease-of-use and performance fronts.
“Without the old Mac OS Control Strip, it’s harder than it used to be to change many settings, such as audio volume,” Norr said. “And activating my printer took way too many mouse clicks. I haven’t yet done any serious benchmarking with Mac OS X, but the system just doesn’t feel as snappy as Apple’s hype had led me to expect — or as state-of-the-art PCs do.”
He also found some glitches with some third-party hardware peripherals such as a floppy drive. And, like many others, Norr thinks many users will want to delay upgrading until more applications are “Carbonized” for Mac OS X.
“Hopefully that will happen by July, when Apple plans to begin including Mac OS X, along with version 9.1, on its new hardware,” he concluded. “Until then, X is best suited to “early adopters” who like to play with the latest and greatest, even when there’s no real return on their investment.”