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ATPM 8.08
August 2002



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Segments: Slices from the Macintosh Life

by Gregory Tetrault,

Why I Haven’t Switched to Mac OS X

Apple, Microsoft, and numerous other Macintosh software vendors fail to understand the main reasons why the majority of Macintosh users (including people like me who normally leap at new operating systems) have not transitioned to OS X. It is certainly not because of mediocre marketing. The media has been saturated with OS X-related advertisements, forums, articles, and discussions for three years. Here’s my take on this issue:

Apple saw OS X as a way to sell more computers. Apple has little interest in getting existing Macintosh users to buy OS X. Why do I make this claim? First, at $129, OS X is expensive to Macintosh owners who are used to getting the OS at no extra charge when they buy their Macintosh computers.

Second, during the development of OS X, Apple decided to omit support for older Macintosh computers (essentially, any Macintosh that did not contain built-in USB ports). There are at least 20 million users with Macintosh computers that cannot run OS X, even if their Macs have been upgraded with G3 or G4 processors, lots of RAM, USB/FireWire PCI cards, etc. The only way those users can switch to OS X is to buy a new Macintosh. That is what Apple wants, since the profit margin on a new computer is higher than on OS X alone.

Steve Jobs announced that the useful and free iTools service will disappear on September 30. Taking its place will be the new, improved “.Mac” service. Users will pay $99 per year for .Mac, which has some features (such as Backup) that only will work with OS X. In my opinion, this tactic will backfire against Apple. OS 9 users will not buy new Macintosh computers just to get OS X and the full features of the overpriced .Mac service. Instead, we will become angry about losing iTools and will find other vendors to replace iTools’ services.

Software vendors such as Microsoft, Adobe, Deneba, etc. saw OS X as a way to make lots of money. They ported existing versions of applications to OS X, and then expected users to pay very high “upgrade” fees. Microsoft charges $199 to upgrade from Office 2001 to Office X, even though there were almost no feature improvements. Deneba did the same thing with Canvas 8. Adobe did the same most of its Macintosh applications.

Some hardware vendors behaved similarly. Many printers and scanners that work well under OS 9 have no OS X drivers. But, new devices from the same vendors have fully OS X-compatible drivers. There is no reason those drivers could not support older devices. Of course, those hardware vendors want users to buy new devices, not download new free drivers.

I did a rough calculation of how much it would cost me to switch one of my G3 Macintosh computers to OS X. I would need to spend over $1000 to upgrade my major applications to OS X versions. I would have to spend another $200-500 to replace applications and utilities that have no OS X version. My scanner with automated document feeder and my ink jet printer have no OS X drivers and would be unusable (unless I restart under OS 9). Replacing those devices would cost approximately $600. Thus, to gain the slight advantages conferred by OS X, I would have to spend $1800-2300. I also would need to invest substantial time to master OS X.

My situation is not unique. If Apple lowered the cost of OS X and supported older G3-based Macintosh computers, switching to OS X would be more attractive. If vendors lowered their charges for 9 to X upgrades, then the costs of switching would be substantially less. Microsoft should stop complaining about poor OS X sales and slash the upgrade prices for its OS X-compatible applications. (Microsoft should also incorporate a decent, cross-platform database application in the professional version of Office, because the lack of such a database hinders Office sales in the corporate environment.)

I would switch to OS X if the cost of doing so was more reasonable. Instead, I will do what millions of other Macintosh owners are doing: stick with OS 9 and my current hardware until they become unusable. I’ll probably end up with a new Macintosh computer and OS 12 sometime around 2006.

Also in This Series

Reader Comments (50)

Jack Waller · August 1, 2002 - 18:02 EST #1
You've expressed my concerns quite well.
Jennifer Watson · August 1, 2002 - 18:18 EST #2
One thing I disagree with is the "high prices" developers are charging for their Mac OS X upgrades. Please take in to consideration the MAJOR development time and energy involved in revamping software for this new OS. There's A LOT of engineering, testing, etc. and time that goes in to it. I'd argue that it is a bargain to get some of these upgrades.
Gustavo J. Llavaneras S. · August 1, 2002 - 19:40 EST #3
I upgraded to OS X, no matter what I had to do. I bought a new printer and will buy a new scanner. I also bought a new Mac (eMac).

But, not having a "frozen" Mac since December is priceless.
James Royal · August 2, 2002 - 07:06 EST #4
Very well stated. Yesterday, I upgraded my internal hard drive, changed the battery, and invested in a larger CRT screen. My 7600 is upgraded with a Sonnett G3, Tango firewire/USB card, graphics accelerator, 256 mb RAM, and has been tweaked to perfection. I need this to run well since my office is in the home.

OS X? Not yet. I figure mid 2004.
Kenneth MacArthur · August 2, 2002 - 09:12 EST #5
I have never read such drivel. In fact, this looks to me like a textbook schoolboy rant.

I'm not going to waste my time conducting a line-by-line rebuttal. However, there are certain parts of the 'article' that stand out for being particularly stupid and which I feel must be brought to readers' attention.

  1. "Software vendors such as Microsoft, Adobe, Deneba, etc. saw OS X as a way to make lots of money." - This is absolute rubbish. Do you think that OS X versions of these vendors' apps were produced in a week? Developing OS X apps is hardly a license to print money.

  2. "There is no reason those drivers could not support older devices." - No reason!? Perhaps the hardware is actually different and would require significant development effort to support, which the device manufacturer clearly cannot offset against purchases of the device in question.

  3. "This tactic will backfire against Apple" - Based on your own arguments at any rate, this is also complete garbage. Why should Apple care if a few Mac OS 9 users get angry and go elsewhere for e-mail and webspace which Apple was previously providing to them at a loss? Are you going to switch platforms just because Apple withdrew a service that it had previously been providing free and which you wouldn't have missed had they never provided it in the first place?

  4. "If Apple…supported older G3-based Macintosh computers" - Other than the original PowerBook G3 which, by the sounds of things, you don't have anyway, what other G3-based Mac would you like Apple to support? Or did you actually mean that you want them to support PPC 603 machines? I assume you realize that OS X requires a decent amount of processing power, so supporting pre-G3 machines would be pointless. Supporting pre-G3 machines with processor upgrade cards would clearly add significantly to Apple's development and OS X support costs which, given a finite amount of resources, most users would rather they spent elsewhere.

Go read an economics textbook before spouting off again.
Les Brown · August 2, 2002 - 11:36 EST #6
Yeah, why doesn't OS X support my Apple II? Why doesn't Apple put tons of time and labor into producing completely free operating systems that support every Mac ever made?

Get a grip!

Steve Larson · August 2, 2002 - 11:40 EST #7
Pretty much how I've felt. I'm particularly upset at being asked to pay another $129 for Jaguar after paying that just a few months ago for OSX. I thought it was a crime when Microshaft would charge $99 for a Windows upgrade, and now Apple is doing the same thing, but $30 more.

However I have a few comments for Kenneth.

  1. Writing a driver does not take significant time to write. It should not be too hard for a vendor to write a driver so I can use my old hardware in OSX. For example. I have an HP printer. Printer drivers for the different models are all pretty close (minor driver tweaks). They now sell printers with OSX drivers. Whether we are talking about writing an OSX driver for an old model, or an OS9 driver for a new model, it's relatively easy to modify an existing driver to work.

  2. Two reasons. One, Apple SAID it was gonna be free for life. Two, to use this $99 service, you're going to have to have internet access outside of Apple which isn't free and generally provides you with e-mail and web space. Why would anybody pay $99 for something they get through their ISP? I'm not going to switch platforms, but I'm not going to throw $99 away either.

  3. How about my Wallstreet? And as far as upgrade cards, it didn't take very long for Ryan Stemple, one guy, to support my Dual G4/450 card for Apple. To me, it sounds like Apple REALLY wants me to buy a new computer and, you know, I'd love to do just that. However, to do that, it would cost me over $6,000 which I don't have nor can afford.

Michael Tsai (ATPM Staff) · August 2, 2002 - 11:53 EST #8
When I first read this article, I reacted much like Kenneth did. But I don't think the intent was to make an economic case for why Apple and the various developers made mistakes. Most of what they have done makes good sense. Greg's point, I believe, is that the user's and developer's points of view often differ. If a vendor wants me to buy a new scanner and I want to keep using my old one, the end result could very well be that I stick with Mac OS 9 for the time being. Apple and vendors are disappointed in the OS X adoption rate, which isn't surprising because, as Greg explains, they would have done things differently if their overriding goal were to get everyone to switch to OS X.

Regarding number 4, I believe the author meant that although the G3 minitowers run OS X, some of their features do not work under it.
Jim Polaski · August 2, 2002 - 12:36 EST #9
Gosh, what do the "iWhiners," as I've called them, think the life of a computer is? I'll admit that, in years past, we could expect longer life, but with the accelerating pace of changes, 2-3 years gets long in the tooth.

For many years, Mac users complained about OS 9 and its instability (at times), lack of PM, SMP, and so on. Apple creates OS X which is unarguably a far larger code base, requiring a tremendous development effort and cost, and all you guys can do is bellyache that it isn't FREE and that your six-year-old hardware isn't supported.

Ryan's utility will extend the life of some older hardware. Go for it! But the name of the game is acceptable performance and your older hardware just doesn't have the processor and bus speed to run OS X at acceptable performance levels.

Sooner or later you all grew up, left mom and dad, and got your own place. This is sort of like that!
Robert Jung · August 2, 2002 - 13:05 EST #10
"I also would need to invest substantial time to master OS X."

What, half a day is too much for you? I moved to Mac OS X just three weeks ago and I'm happily splashing away in Aqua full time these days. Aside from Photoshop Elements and Quicken Deluxe, all of my regular applications have been upgraded to Mac OS X equivalents for free (thanks largely to cross-platform license keys).

Reports of Mac OS X's complexity are greatly exaggerated.


"iGenius" T-shirts!
Walter · August 2, 2002 - 14:14 EST #11
OS X really looked like it was going to be absolutely revolutionary...UNIX with Apple's ease of use and polish. Wow!

Unfortunately, after using OS X, I have found it to be a second-rate OS.

Don't get me wrong, I like all the promises of UNIX and I have owned Macs since 1988. In fact, I liked my Macs so much that I actually worked for Apple three years. Because of my experience at Apple, I started my own business doing network consulting and I have Apple to thank for it all.

I would be willing to fully upgrade to OS X if I felt it was superior The money doesn't bother me in the least.

However, the major problems I have with OS X are:

It's slow (yes, my optimized OS 9 machine is faster).

It includes features that I don't want to have installed on my computer, namely a webserver, an e-mail server, etc.

It's not more stable than a well-set up OS 9 machine. In fact, I have had numerous freezes where OS X couldn't respond or even force quit.

It's complicated. Most users don't need or care about multi-user computers or logins for that matter. This feature should be optional.

OS X is huge in terms of the sheer number of files that make up the OS. I don't know how many of you have noticed but OS X is roughly 40,000 tiny files. This takes a huge amount of time to run a disk utility on to make sure everything is OK.

OS X doesn't make it easy to see the crucial files and folders. Most of them are hidden but shouldn't be.

Finally, and I know most of you will not like to hear this, I believe that Windows XP is a better-executed OS than OS X currently is. Microsoft did a really good job of migrating and unifying their code base while permitting most of their users to be able to use all their learned skills. With OS X, almost all of the knowledge that I've gleaned over 14 years of using the Mac OS is nearly useless. I can't use any of it to clean up the OS and make it faster or more stable.

And Apple commercials and print advertising, wasn't it Apple that made fun of DOS users by saying that you'd never have to memorize a string of text to control or use your Mac? What do they consider the Terminal to be? Unless I've missed something, I can't use my mouse in the terminal, but instead I need to memorize a bunch of UNIX commands to get to some of the most basic commands. Why? Is this progress? Also, it was Apple that pioneered the use of Metadata to associate documents with applications. Now Apple wants to obliterate that and go to using file extensions. FILE EXTENSIONS? On my Mac? Apple used to make fun of this as well on Windows computers. Apple said that to use a Mac you'd never have to use a file extension.

I guess things really have changed...and not for the better.
Robert · August 2, 2002 - 14:51 EST #12
I have also tried OS X and have no use for it. Dot-3 extensions and a command line interface are not my idea of an elegant interface. My new flat panel iMac runs OS 9 all day with me bouncing between Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Eurdora, BBEdit as well as various other smaller programs. It is the most reliable system I've used on any platform.

I see OS X as the "Green Party" of operating systems. It will end up drawing away just enough far left liberals (UNIX geeks) to prevent the party (Macintosh) from being elected to the presidency (market share).

So there.
São Tomé Pismotica · August 2, 2002 - 17:00 EST #13
OS X is not Mac OS, it's a PowerPC edition of NeXTSTEP.

NeXTSTEP ran a full implementation of Display Postscript on 25Mhz 68030s. SGI had an OpenGL-based UI and windowing system running on similar hardware (with dedicated video co-processors) more than ten years before Quartz Extreme. There isn't any engineering reason why Apple couldn't get it running on a IIci--it's just Unix after all.

Of course Apple wants you to buy their latest hardware. They are in the business of developing attractive software that comes with these gorgeous copy protection dongles called iMac, PowerBook, iPod, etc.

This debate is about switching platforms, not upgrading to a new version of the Mac OS. And as long as we're talking about proprietary software, the Windows XP comparison is an entirely valid option for veteran Macintosh users to consider. Microsoft, at least, has a metadata roadmap. Regardless of what Apple markets it as, OS X is no Macintosh and my reasons for sticking with Macintosh all these years have not changed. System 6 running on my 68k machines and Mac OS 9 running on my PowerPC hardware is still the simplest, most elegant, easiest to maintain personal computer operating system available.

Stability, by the way, is achieved by disciplined coding and configuration. "Industrial strength" operating systems merely make it more difficult for sloppy code to run amuck, but believe me, it still happens. From the very beginning Macintosh attracted some of the most dedicated, disciplined, and creative software engineers in the world, resulting in a community of developers and end-users that shared an ethic of good, clean design and engineering inspired by PARC and the original Mac team. This resulted in amzingly productive solutions like FileMaker, WriteNow, QuarkXPress 3.x, WebSTAR, QuickTime, HyperCard, Photoshop, Vellum, ProTools, etc., all of which "just worked." For disciplined users willing to configure their systems with care and NOT "upgrade" a functioning configuration, unprecedented productivity became the basis for Mac users in general, having a better quality of life since they weren't shackled to their machine all day. OS X's mish-mash of Classic, Carbon, Cocoa, Java, Posix and RealBasic applications has lost that consistency. The community has never been so fragmented and the half-baked Aqua Human Interface guidelines, instead of inspiring us to a new level of usability, are instead an insult to Apple's tradition of humane design.

Until some paradigm-shattering breakthrough in usability comes along, I have no reason to throw away what has served me well for 15 years. If I'm going to have to learn an entirely new, order of magnitude more complex technology, I might as well learn Windows XP (despotic vendor, ubiquitous software, higher performance hardware) or a GNU OS (complete and utter freedom forever, higher performance hardware) in addition to OS X (fascist vendor, aesthetically cool enclosures but out-of-the-mainstream-of-hardware-performance-curve motherboards). Asked a year before the NeXT acquisition what he would do if he were running Apple, Steve Jobs said he would, "...milk the Macintosh for all it's worth and get on to the next thing." He's still milking and if NeXT is the "next" thing, I've underestimated his ego.

Someday soon, Apple will begin shipping personal computers that won't boot Mac OS 9. Apple will still market them as Macs, but the Macintosh era will have officially ended. The future for Apple users is Unix, not Macintosh and we can blame John Sculley not licensing Macintosh to Sony in 1985 for that.
anonymous · August 2, 2002 - 18:33 EST #14
I don't want to pay $99 a year for a formerly free service. But you get Virex in the bundle. Norton Antivirus for the Macintosh costs $89 without any extras and has only a year of free updates (at least that's what I got with NAV 2001 for Windows.) In the plug I saw for Defcon X on slashdot, I noticed they were going to discuss security holes in OS X. Doesn't that raise the spectre of viral activity in OS X?

I noticed that Apple offers a free trial of .Mac with reduced e-mail and iDisk space, and no anti-virus. Maybe Apple should offer .Mac Light, charging, say, $35 per year. They can't offer "free" e-mail without a lot of ads. If you want that, go to Yahoo! Mail.
Gregory Tetrault (ATPM Staff) · August 2, 2002 - 19:17 EST #15
Reply to Kenneth MacArthur:

You seem to forget something about software marketing: when vendors release a new version of a program, they generally sell it at two different prices. New users are expected to pay full price. This price reflects three things: the costs of development, the competition in the marketplace, and the inverse relationship between price and number of units sold. Users of the previous version are charged an upgrade price. If a vendor expects lots of full price sales, it can offer low cost upgrades and still make out quite well. A vendor can actually lower its support costs by getting most users on the current version. If a vendor expects few new users and only expects to make money from upgrades, then it must price the upgrade high to pay for the costs of development. However, some vendors like Microsoft and Adobe do both: charge high prices to new users and to upgraders. Microsoft whined about its low Office v.X sales, but then lowered its upgrade charge by $100. Why the original high price? They wanted to milk the OS X upgrade market.

"Why should Apple care if a few Mac OS 9 users get angry and go elsewhere for e-mail and webspace..."

They won't right now, but when it is time to buy a new computer, they may dump the Mac for Windows. Millions of former Macintosh users have already done so. Apple should be treating its current customer base like gold, not like manure. How can Apple expect Windows users to switch when its actions annoy so many current Mac users. I'm far less likely to evangelize the Macintosh today than I was two years ago because of the recent boneheaded actions of Apple's execs.

"...what other G3-based Mac would you like Apple to support"

How about the entire line of beige G3 minitowers. When I bought my rev B, 300 MHz G3 minitower with DVD, Apple was supposedly only months away from releasing OS X. Apple indicated in its advertising that those Macs (and the G3 PowerBooks) could upgrade to OS X. Well, we can if we decide that we don't need video support, audio-video in/out support, DVD playback ability, etc. There is a class action lawsuit in progress concerning this failed promise. And why can't OS X fully support any Mac that's been upgraded with a G3 chip (even on a daughter card)? The whole point of Apple's CPU on a daughter card and then its ZIF CPUs was the ability to extend the useful life of hardware. That was always a big selling point for Apple: its equipment didn't die within three years. Now, Apple has joined the ranks of PC clone sellers that expect that their crap boxes will get tossed out after 3 years.
Gregory Tetrault (ATPM Staff) · August 2, 2002 - 19:26 EST #16
Reply to Jim Polaski:
I was not bellyaching that OS X is not free. I was stating some of the many reasons why only a small percentage of OS 9 users have purchased OS X. The cost of OS X is only one factor. Also, when OS 10.0 was released, my beige G3 was only 18 months old. Apple should have FULLY supported it. And why can't we expect OS X to support old hardware? I run OS 9 on a ten-year-old Performa. I currently have a 3.5-year-old G3 Mac minitower upgraded to a 400 MHz G4 CPU with 640 MB RAM, a FireWire/USB card, etc. My Mac has more horsepower than some newer Macs that are fully supported by OS X. Apple just decided to break its implied promise to millions of users who bought the original G3 minitowers, iMacs, and PowerBooks. Few of those millions of users will buy OS X until they get it with a new Macintosh. That was my point.
Gregory Tetrault (ATPM Staff) · August 2, 2002 - 19:32 EST #17
Reply to Robert Jung:

I am a expert power user of Mac OS 9. Do you believe I could become an expert power user of OS X in half a day? Could anyone? No. It would take me weeks just to feel halfway competent in OS X. Yes, I could use OS X applications almost instantly, but the same is true of Windows XP. That's not the same as being an expert power user. My article listed numerous reasons why people like me have not switched to OS X. The burden of mastering a new operating system is just one of them.
Gregory Tetrault (ATPM Staff) · August 2, 2002 - 19:40 EST #18
Reply to São Tomé Pismotica:

I didn't get into all the issues you mentioned, but I agree with every point you made. I believe that Apple would have been far better served by making BeOS into OS X. Be would have cost $300 million less than buying NeXT and Apple wouldn't be staffed by all those arrogant and misguided NeXTStep software engineers. Plus, Apple's board wouldn't have been buying a $92 million jet for Jobs and offering stock options that dilute Apple's stock price by more than $1.00 per share.
Kenneth MacArthur · August 2, 2002 - 20:42 EST #19
Hmmmmm, more nonsense. Let me see.

  1. "If a vendor expects few new users and only expects to make money from upgrades, then it must price the upgrade high to pay for the costs of development. However, some vendors like Microsoft and Adobe do both: charge high prices to new users and to upgraders."

What exactly are you saying here? It would be all right if Microsoft charged a high price to upgraders as long as they charged a low price to new users? Can I suggest that there wouldn't be any upgraders if they did that!

Clearly, in the case of Office v.X, Microsoft didn't expect a huge number of new customers, so it had to price the upgrade relatively high to justify the significant development costs involved in porting an application this size to the Carbon APIs. What is equally clear though is that there would have been serious disquiet if Microsoft had maintained only a small price differential between the upgrade and the full version. Imagine how you would feel as an Office 2001 user if you had to pay 95%, say, of the cost of the full version for your upgrade.

  1. "I believe that Apple would have been far better served by making BeOS into OS X."

I beg to differ. Only today at work, Windows developers looked on in amazement as I developed UNIX software on my iBook whilst, at the same time, running industry-standard apps such as Word and Internet Explorer. They simply cannot do this. They either have to telnet into their UNIX production box or take up valuable desk space with a second PC running Linux.

Mac OS X is gaining more and more interest from Internet developers, precisely because of this killer combination of UNIX core and industry-standard application support.

  1. "...Apple wouldn't be staffed by all those arrogant and misguided NeXTStep software engineers."

Presumably you knew you wouldn't get away with saying this without at least provoking a comment or two. In fact, I suspect that was the intention.

Now, I am not particularly concerend about whether NeXTStep software engineers are arrogant. Hot shot programmers are often the best programmers.

I am more interested in what it is about them that compels you to describe them as "misguided"? This, at the very least, is quite a harsh generalization. So, presumably, you have some substance to back up your claim. Please share it with us all.
Michael Tsai (ATPM Staff) · August 3, 2002 - 00:16 EST #20

I am more interested in what it is about them that compels you to describe them as "misguided." This, at the very least, is quite a harsh generalization. So, presumably, you have some substance to back up your claim.

Perhaps the fact that they wanted to throw away the Mac OS Finder, AppleScript, metadata, and the APIs that became Carbon?
Kenneth MacArthur · August 3, 2002 - 08:08 EST #21
I'm not disputing the value of some of these technologies, but it always irks me when people make statements like that without backing them up.

For argument's sake, I might think AppleScript, for example, is the worst scripting language on the planet. I am perfectly entitled to hold that view but, if I do, I am not going to agree with your premise for calling Apple's engineers misguided. The tone that you and Gregory have taken seems to suggest that you think everyone else should automatically agree with your views on legacy Mac OS technologies.

There seems to be a polarization in the Mac community between people such as yourself who are dyed in the wool Classic Mac OS traditionalists, and people such as me who are embracing Mac OS X and all that comes with it (UNIX core, Cocoa, Java 2, etc.) 110%. Both camps are completely entitled to hold the views that they hold but, unfortunately for the former camp, Apple is leaving you behind.

The Mac platform is not a religion. Apple is not a charity. Mac OS X is the future of the Mac. As with any OS transition, some people will have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the party (although it would be nice if they could do it without resorting to borderline personal attacks on Apple's software engineers). Others will leave the platform. In my opinion though, the Mac platform today is a much more compelling offering than it was 5 years ago, and there an awful lot of people who agree with me.
Richard Dalziel-Sharpe · August 3, 2002 - 08:59 EST #22
I am ashamed to read all of the garbage written by these so called Mac users. All right, don't upgrade your Mac. OK, don't move to OS X. And then when you have your way and spread your doom and gloom and all of us other Mac users are following you instead of the path to the future, please don't complain when Apple is broke and you HAVE to buy a PC and join the glorious alternative and become a slave to Bill Gates and Microsoft.

The only way Apple can continue to be a lone beacon of elegance and humanity in the world of personal computing is if the company continues to make a profit. And no company stays in business if they don't make a REAL profit, and they don't stay in business for long if they gouge their regular customers.

From my scant knowledge of the costs involved in developing an OS, I think that OS X is a bargain. Sure, I have had to buy new software, but in almost every case the change has not only been to accomodate the new OS but has also brought new features and usability.

I have bought all of the OS X versions including the public beta and have found them all interesting and exciting to use. I run three business and have 2 Macs and will soon dispense with OS 9 altogether when Canon produces a driver for the N650u scanner.
Gregory Tetrault (ATPM Staff) · August 3, 2002 - 09:57 EST #23
"Mac OS X is gaining more and more interest from Internet developers, precisely because of this killer combination of UNIX core and industry-standard application support."

Well, that's great. Unix-using Internet developers make up what tiny fraction of 1% of Macintosh users? If Apple gears OS X to appeal to this group, it will go the way of NeXT Computing. You do remember NeXT, the company with its overpriced hardware and software and fraction of a percent market share? The company whose final (inflated) value was only 10% of Apple's cash on hand?

Some readers are not getting the major point of my essay. My goal was not to bash the technical features of OS X. (That can be handled better by other ATPM writers.) My goal is to point out why OS X sales are not as brisk as Apple, Microsoft, and other companies would like. I believe that Apple made strategic blunders by limiting compatibity of OS X to only new Macs, by pricing OS X too high (OS 9 sold for a street price of $79), and by telling millions of existing customers that their Macintosh experience would be shortchanged unless they buy a new Mac.

Eighteen months ago, 15% of my net worth was in Apple stock (now comprising less than 10% of my diminished net worth, even though I've kept all my Apple shares), so I'm quite sensitive to business decisions that hurt customers and diminish sales. The Copland/OS X blunders are only a small part of what Apple has done wrong in the past few years.
Gregory Tetrault (ATPM Staff) · August 3, 2002 - 10:09 EST #24
I am more interested in what it is about them that compels you to describe them as "misguided." This, at the very least, is quite a harsh generalization. So, presumably, you have some substance to back up your claim.

Perhaps the fact that they wanted to throw away the Mac OS Finder, AppleScript, metadata, and the APIs that became Carbon?

You can also add the OS X installers that trashed users' hard drives (because the NeXTStep programmers forgot that Macintosh drives and folder names can have spaces), the dumping of the very useful Apple and Application menus, the idiocy of a single dock, the loss of tabbed folders or some equivalent (even Windows has this), the overly complicated privileges system, the occasional need to use a command-line interface to fix problems, the inability to rename and reorganize application and utility folders, etc.
Gregory Tetrault (ATPM Staff) · August 3, 2002 - 10:17 EST #25
I run three business and have 2 Macs and will soon dispense with OS 9 altogether, when Canon produces a driver for the N650u scanner.

Well, another one of my points supported. OS X 10.0 was released in 2001. Its beta versions were available throughout 2000, and developer versions were available before that. Yet, a major computer-related hardware manufacturer still doesn't have an OS X-compatible driver for a scanner that's only a few years old. Perhaps you will never see such a driver. Canon would prefer that you buy a new, OS X supported scanner. This same tactic has been used by dozens of companies and is an important reason why many Mac users stick with OS 9.
Michael Tsai (ATPM Staff) · August 3, 2002 - 10:41 EST #26
The tone that you and Gregory have taken seems to suggest that you think everyone else should automatically agree with your views on legacy Mac OS technologies.

I think the value of these technologies is indisputable. You may not like AppleScript, but that does not diminish its value for the many Apple customers who were depending on it, that chose Mac OS over Windows because of AppleScript. Most people who know Carbon and Cocoa prefer Cocoa. That doesn't mean it would be a good idea to go with the original Rhapsody plan. I doubt Apple would be able to survive without apps like Office and Photoshop.

Not everyone who likes certain Mac OS technologies is a "dyed in the wool Classic Mac OS traditionalist." I like having access to a command line. I like programming in Cocoa. I was writing Java 2 before Apple was shipping it.
São Tomé Pismotica · August 4, 2002 - 02:16 EST #27
The only way Apple can continue to be a lone beacon of elegance and humanity in the world of personal computing is if the company continues to make a profit.

I'd say that projects like the K12 Linux Terminal Server are much more deserving of the terms elegance and humanity than the modern Apple Computer. The only reason GNU OSes haven't become more popular on the desktop is because ease of use and aesthetic design is not done well by committee. Thanks to Apple's current defensive position in the industry, good initiatives like iSync and Rendesvous are being based on non-proprietary technologies, making it easy for people working on projects like K12LTSP to incorporate the same functionality. If you love the technology (Macintosh) but hate the company (Apple), Open Source alternatives are becoming more and more viable every year. One of these days, some kid in India will produce the the next usability breakthrough and the age of proprietary operating systems will become a distant memory.

Mac OS X has a lot going for it, particularly the fact that it is shipping, but "elegance" and "humanity" are not at the top of my list of recent Apple qualities.
Alex Nonnemacher · August 4, 2002 - 10:58 EST #28
This is great...the opinions of the dissenters reflect my greatest fear: I'll be buying a Windows box in a few years because of those who cannot bear but repeat the past. Support our platform!

The criticisms are hollow: the CLI is optional, as is having multiple users. It is more stable, no matter what anyone says about having a well set-up install of nine. Faster? Copying files between drives/partitions is faster in X than 9. What about when Jaguar is released? It is going to be fast? Will the bellyachers go out and buy it? No, they won't...they will continue to moan, afraid of real change at every step. The "arguments" listed above are mostly padding for that reality.
São Tomé Pismotica · August 4, 2002 - 13:42 EST #29
"Support our platform!"

Macintosh (System 1 through Mac OS 9)?


Darwin (Mach/BSD)?


Multiple users is not an option under OS X. The root (Avie) owns all, you're just a "user" who needs to ask for permission at the altar of the high priest now and then.

The CLI is optional in Windows, too, and NT certainly was more stable and had much faster I/O than System 7, 8 or 9 but that didn't make me switch, although millions of other Mac users who cared about these factors more than usability did. OS X is a mix of improvements in performance and regression in usability that makes Windows or KDE/Gnome much more competitive. On the other hand, none of them are as easy to use and maintain as the classic Mac OS, so why switch? Apple has put itself in this situation by dissing classic Macintosh qualities without surpassing them in OS X.

Jaguar is faster than what? System 6 boots in 5 seconds on my PowerBook 100 and typing is a lot more responsive in WriteNow on a 68k machine or any word processor on Linux or Windows than Word or TextEdit running under Jaguar. Any x86 PC sold today running Windows or Linux loads web pages faster than any Mac (it would be pretty sad if Apple did web browsing shootouts in public). Jaguar is an improvement over Mac OS X alpha (aka the public beta) and the two betas (10.0 and 10.1) but that cool new spinning lollipop continues to show up embarassingly often.

The ones who are afraid of real change are those who blindly accept whatever Apple says and does as gospel truth. They would have vehemently supported Copland or NT or Be OS if that's what Apple had shipped, regardless of how unstable, inelegant or immature those OSes may have been. Apple is an adult (finally). It can take care of itself.

If you really want to support your platform, become a developer and make cool products for it. That'll shut me up.
Steve · August 4, 2002 - 15:03 EST #30
I got OS X free with my iBook. It came loaded with all the software I need. I have multiple users set up on it.

The total cost was the cost of the iBook. I'm not crying about it.
Alex Nonnemacher · August 4, 2002 - 15:46 EST #31
A user needn't become a developer to prefer and support OS X, and neither I nor anyone else cares if you shut up or not. Use System 6 if you want, but your insistence on diametric thinking is your own problem. I, like many others, found systems 7 thru 9 to be perfectly serviceable, but I, like many others, find X to be a great step forward and want to work through the transition. If you want to hoard old hardware and use the antiquated OS, go ahead. But if your definition of a developer being the ultimate expression of OS support, for whom do you plan to develop in the next decade?

Or are you really a developer at all?
George2 · August 5, 2002 - 23:32 EST #32
Gregory - excellent article. Describes very well why I have stayed with Mac OS 8.6. Don't let the criticism bother you: it misses your point.

Thank you.

John · August 7, 2002 - 18:10 EST #33
I think this is a great article. How hard is it to write drivers for existing hardware under OS X? Gee, didn't Steve specifically say iTools will be free for life? People paid so much money for their Macs and they can't run OS X even though they were promised they could. Who, in their right mind, and I mean RIGHT mind, would pay $100 for a glorified version of Yahoo (.mac)?

This is no way to treat your existing customers, Apple. Sure, you got some Mac users who worship your every action and think everything Apple does is magic, but the majority of computer users don't. But there are still a lot of Mac users that could switch to Windows tomorrow and never look back.

Steve, how about spending money trying to keep your current user base instead on squandering it trying to hopelessly attract new users with these silly commercials?
anonymous · August 7, 2002 - 21:14 EST #34
OS X--who cares? My 867 G4 runs Linux Mandrake happily and is a much more advanced OS than X. OS X is for kids and is unstable. Why on earth would I bother with Jaguar. Apple can take their OS X and OS 9 and shove it. Moreover, Mandrake runs all the applications natively with a program called "Mac on Linux." Also moreover, this is also the last Mac I will ever buy due to the strongarm tactics of Apple and their Microsoftesque way of doing things (Jaguar debarcle), not to mention the savagely lacking speed of their machines. Apple just doesn't care about performance, only easy of use and user experience. When they start to care about professionals, I might think about another Mac, but my next machine is going to be an AMD Athlon.
Steve · August 27, 2002 - 00:50 EST #35
Hmm, where to begin. I am a photographer and freelance retoucher and use my G4 400 (AGP) and iBook (600) just about all day long. I was extremely skeptical of OS X when it was first released. I flat out rejected it. I figured I know every little inside and outside to OS 9 and every way to fix it when things went wrong! Well, when I bought my iBook, it came with OS X, so I figured I'd give it a try. As much as I knew OS 9, it is total crap when compared to OS X. I no longer need to know how to fix problems because my computer is more stable than ever. I have been running X for about 8 months now and have not even looked back. I have now installed Jaguar and it did speed up my machine incredibly. This is a GREAT operating system, people. You just have to get beyond rejecting it and you will embrace it.

As far as the .Mac service, I was, for many many years, an AOL (AO-Hell) customer. That was my fault, I'm sorry. Then I made the switch to Yahoo and Hotmail. They should call it Then I started using an iTools account for free and the skies parted. NO MORE JUNK MAIL. I shrugged a little when I paid the $50 for the first year of .Mac, but I do not regret it in any way. Things are better than ever now. I have faith in Apple and think that they will come through for us loyal Apple customers.

Call me a sucker, call me what you will, but this is the truth of my life. Maybe I'm just not the complaining type. Also, if your machine is 5 years old, HELLO! Get a new machine!! Why would you possibly hold onto any computer that is 5 years old. Mine is going on 3 now and I know that in about 1-2 years it will be time to move on. Get over it!
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · August 27, 2002 - 19:55 EST #36
Steve - You're not a sucker, and let me state real quick that I largely agree with everything you said. I only take issue with the last part. Some of us don't have $2,000+ to blow on a computer every 5 years. Yes, I said $2,000+ because even though hardware can be had for closer to $1,000, you know good and well that there's always little extras you have to buy: bigger hard drive, extra RAM, etc. etc. In addition, I don't personally buy the baseline $1,000 +/- machines. I'm always looking at the higher end ones for the tasks I do. An iMac wouldn't suit me, though I love the looks of them. If I were in the market for a desktop, it would most assuredly be whatever the latest and greatest minitower was. I prefer to use PowerBooks and definitely can only afford to own one computer at a time and, even with the two laptops I've owned thus far, they were, at the time, the latest and greatest. I bought a 3400 not long before the first 3400-ish G3 laptop came out, and I bought my current 500MHz Pismo G3 about the time the G4 Titanium was introduced. I didn't buy the G4 only because I would miss the expansion slot too badly and the money I'd have spent on just the G4 'Book got me the Pismo with lots more RAM, a bigger-than-factory-standard hard drive, and a Zip drive expansion module. I also bought a CD-RW expansion module and ended up only about $150 over the price (then) of the TiBook.

Oh, and the other point I wanted to make was: even if I could afford a new laptop every couple of years, what about the legendary quality of Apple hardware and all those classic machines that are still churning away while x86 and (dare I say) Pentium 2 Wintel machines are being chucked out the window (pardon the pun)? I pay the premium for Apple computers not only because I prefer the OS, but also because I believe Apple's hardware has no problem holding up for several years!
Michael James · August 27, 2002 - 22:12 EST #37
I've been rummaging through these comments and wondering what kinds of machines people who want to stay with OS 9 and 8.6 are using. These arguments remind me of the ski debates over the last decade - people said they'd hang on to their 205 cm straight skis FOREVER and never, EVER use a shaped ski. The world changes folks - get used to it. If you want Apple to die, just keep on insisting on iterations of OS 9 over and over.

I don't miss OS 9 and all the freezes and the disasters with extensions. Everything I do with a computer, from listening to music to writing columns to e-mail and watching DVDs on the plane, OS X does better, and while a program or two has stopped occasionally, the computer has NEVER crashed, not once. Do I miss OS 9? Not at all. Do I ever use it? No. Is OS X better? Does it rain in Seattle?

C'mon folks, get some new skis and move your computing minds ahead an inch or two.
Michael Tsai (ATPM Staff) · August 27, 2002 - 23:17 EST #38
Michael James: I don't see anyone asking for more iterations of OS 9. What I do see is that experienced Mac users are discerning customers. They see that OS X has usability problems, slowness, and may be missing software that they depend upon. Everyone knows that OS X is the future. When each person should switch over depends on his or her situation. Some people started with the Public Beta or 10.0, others with 10.1. Some waited for Retrospect or Office. No doubt 10.2 will convert many more. And, I'm sure, some people who just bought PowerMac G4s with dual optical drives have very good reasons for sticking with OS 9 for the time being. Give these people some credit. It's possible that they're ready for OS X but the OS X platform isn't ready for them.

As for me, I switched around 10.0.4. It crashes about once every two weeks--about the same as OS 9 did. I still depend on Classic for some key apps and I boot into OS 9 now and then to run DiskWarrior and Plus Optimizer. OS X is definitely not better for everything that I do, but I have good reasons for using it.
Tim Stock · December 27, 2002 - 02:54 EST #39
It seems I've missed the boat for the most virulent discussion period, but I wanted to add a few brief points for anyone still interested. I've moved to OS X and couldn't be happier. Now, this has been a great discussion. In fact I think it is the tenor of such discussions that separates most Mac users from others. Still, I find the debate somewhat academic in terms of how I use my particular Mac (a beige G3 300, which more than adequately works with OS X). I use a word processor. It's the backbone of a large demographic's use for personal computing. Here are the advantages of OS X to my mind from the simple perspective of manipulating documents:

  1. Creating PDFs (as a native feature), as well as being able to easily extract text and graphics FROM PDFs, guarantees cross platform access to anything my computer touches.

  2. The third party document applications (OmniDictionary, Microsoft Word X, and lots more…) are fantastic and I have found a huge increase in productivity when managing content (right-click links to dictionary, spelling, SYNONYMS good lord! What a lifesaver). I would wager that anyone, upon discovering the intuitive formatting in Word X, who has tried to reformat an imported document in older versions of Word, found themselves mirroring Homer Simpson's sentiments upon rediscovering TV: "Urge to kill … Subsiding …"

  3. Great language support. From umlauts to kanji, OS X flawlessly jumps either pond.

  4. Need I mention Quartz? I've shaved years off my eyes when performing web research in OmniWeb.

  5. I actually like the dot-3 suffix options built into the file dialogues. A lot of the Win-dorks I send files to aren't necessarily going to figure out that accessing a file is just a ".doc" away (much to my chagrin).

I'll be honest ... while I consider myself to be of the more technologically literate of the word-processing/content crowd, I couldn't write a script or tell you the difference between Aqua and Java (except that you need the former to brew the latter) to save my life. I deal with words, and a lot of them. OS X has had me flying through translations, content design, essays, and research since the moment I installed it. The Mac has lagged behind the DOS office world for ages and, with OS X, that's no longer the case. It's worth the cash upgrade by a long shot.

BTW: Nobody knows Apple's shoddy backwards-compatibility better than Beige OS X users who promptly lost the use of the disk drive upon installation. But, you know what? Nothing is perfect and I'm willing to take the bad with the good. Regarding this loss of such capacity, however, it does seem a bit silly to advocate OS 9 so strongly. When I bought OS X, it was boxed with OS 9.2.1 and any of the (for my use, inconsequential) problems that arose on the switch--from a step down in video quality to, yes, the loss of the native floppy--I have found an easy remedy. Stick a copy of Startup Disk on the desktop. Select the OS 9 System Folder with a couple of clicks and 30 seconds later you're off to the races. And what Windows machine (short of partitioned/multiple hard drives) can boast two great operating systems on the same disk, much less in the same box at the store?
Michael Tsai (ATPM Staff) · December 27, 2002 - 18:08 EST #40

From my perspective, point 1 is moot because the native-generated PDFs are large and don't support features like bookmarks and links. There were good shareware and commercial products for making PDFs on OS 9.

And what Windows machine (short of partitioned/multiple hard drives) can boast two great operating systems on the same disk

I believe Connectix has a product for letting you run multiple versions of Windows simultaneously on a PC.
Luke · January 22, 2003 - 02:57 EST #41
Who cares if Apple annoys a FEW of it's existing "customers." "Customers" that want everything for free, or who are still using System 6 - gee, you're a great source of support for Apple's BUSINESS.

OS X has convinced me (a former Windoze slave) and a number of my friends to become Apple CUSTOMERS.

We are contributing to Apple's business and its future success.

A number of existing Mac OS 9 customers - like us - will also contribute to Apple's FUTURE success. It may take a few a while to upgrade - but they will. (I believe MS is still struggling with a number of Win 95 users it doesn't really want).

If you now "hate" the Mac platform and Apple because of OS X, then maybe as a low upgrade, free services "customer," you won't be missed.

Personally, as a NEW Apple customer, and a NEW Mac user, I want Apple to be around in a number of years, and I'd like my kids to have the chance of using Mac OS X rather than ANY version of Windows.

Whilst this decision may not have been the only possibility to ensure that, it certainly seems to have been the BEST one.

Apple and Mac are gaining new CUSTOMERS, making profits when most PC makers aren't and, in the end, THAT IS BUSINESS.
Gregory Tetrault (ATPM Staff) · January 22, 2003 - 09:12 EST #42
Luke: Apple has annoyed more than a few of its existing customers--customers like me who have purchased over ten thousand dollars worth of Apple hardware and software. The vast majority of Apple purchases come from longtime Macintosh users who are upgrading their hardware and software. When Apple puts up barriers to upgrading, as it has with OS X, then it hurts itself and its current customers.

The attitute of "What have you bought from me lately?" that now seems to permeate Apple will hurt the company in the long run. One of the reasons I have bought only Macintosh computers since 1985 is the expectation that they will not become obsolete, broken, door stops in three years. Apple is moving away from producing and supporting hardware that is expected to last five years or longer. Apple wants all its customers to buy new computers every three years, just like the PC clone makers. Apple wants users to buy new operating systems every two years, just like Microsoft. These attitudes are counterproductive, though they boost revenues in the short term.

The investment world is unimpressed with Apple's recent changes. Apple stock is back down to $14 a share (little more than the value of its liquid assets). Investors feel that Apple itself is worth nothing. This probably is not correct, but it is a sign of how little confidence investors place in the current and future appeal of Apple's hardware and software.
Kenneth MacArthur · January 22, 2003 - 09:40 EST #43
Oh, get over yourself! Do you actually realize how appallingly bad an operating system Mac OS 9 was?

Out of interest, how long do you think Apple should have continued to use the Mac OS 9 codebase? Until 2005? 2010? 2050? Answers please...
Gregory Tetrault (ATPM Staff) · January 22, 2003 - 14:27 EST #44
Mr. MacArthur: First, you have your tenses wrong. Mac OS 9 is still in use. OS 9 was first released in October of 1999 and is going strong more than three years later. It is a solid operating system that still outperforms OS X in most situations. Second, I do not expect Apple to continue using the OS 9 codebase except within Classic. In fact, as an Apple shareholder, I do not want Apple to expend unnecessary resources on OS 9. I'm content with 9.2.x.

My essay was not written to sing praises of OS 9 and condemn OS X. I wrote the essay after Microsoft and other vendors complained that sales of their OS X-compatible applications were lower than predicted. My essay explained some of the reasons why many Macintosh owners feel that the advantages of OS X are outweighed by its disadvantages and why some OS X users are still using older applications under Classic. Why should I and other Macintosh owners jump on the OS X bandwagon when it offers us so little? Why are users such as yourself upset with Mac owners who don't think OS X is wonderful? We do not need intra-platform warfare; we take enough flak from Windows users.

A few million Macintosh users find that OS X meets their needs. I am happy for them and hope that millions more buy new Macs running OS X. I just won't be joining that group for a while.
Glenn Gundersen · December 5, 2003 - 14:30 EST #45
Does Apple really want us to switch from Windows? I went to the "local" Mac store 3 times trying to buy a Power Book. All 3 times I was ignored while other people came in AFTER me to buy Ipods and Software. Yes, I know I can order one online but I didn't want to.When I called up Apple I was told they really couldn't do anything about it because all the stores are independently owned and operated. He transferred me to the store's number which of course wasn't answered! Another call and he transferred me to their "customer relation's line". That number had a message requesting an access code then said I didn't have permission to call that number without one. Funny how much easier it is to buy a PC!!!
Gregory Tetrault (ATPM Staff) · December 6, 2003 - 01:05 EST #46
Mr. Gundersen:
Since PowerBooks have just about the highest profit margin of any Apple product, it's hard to believe salespersons would ignore a serious buyer. I've never had a salesperson ignore me after stating that I plan to buy something. Perhaps you need to be a tad more assertive.
jayme · January 23, 2004 - 12:36 EST #47
what bugs me the most about the os wars on either platform is that they keep making us buy faster machines to allow for hungrier software. I thought that x was going to be optimized code from the ground up so to make better use of the megahertz power of machines. Instead of more power hungry software that acheives really the same results but slower. Eg. instead of putting a bigger motor in, why not make the body lighter as is the trend of cars today. If efficiency had been more of a focus then the viability of it being used on older machines for longer would have given apple more breathing space for x in the meantime with its users. As for not supporting use of 9 on new machines! This surely is for no other reason than forcing a migration that has already been to long in transition. Yet that's apples fault really, 10.3 is the first real version of x and it's still a power hog at best. I do see x as the way forward eventually but I like many others can't afford the os/hardware upgrade and to be the guinea pig for it to boot. A shame for mac users and apple alike as I would like to be right there when mac gets x there. As it is I'll have to leave it up to those with money and catch up later when it's more affordable and efficient.
Frank · August 14, 2005 - 02:41 EST #48
Jayme, I couldn't agree more. I would really like to run X on my beige, but it's...just...too...slow. Having used other computers, I wouldn't want to run X on anything less than a fast G4 or a G5 (I guess just the newest computers). And what's bugging me the most right now is the fact that Apple pulled all OS9 support on their new computers. You can only run OS9 if you boot into classic. And I know somebody's going to say something about how it's about time that I switch, and I know, and am familiar with it, but it still feels like Windoze. I really like the more compact, streamlined classic interface, as well as the fact (stated earlier) that OS9 is much easier to customize and make more efficient. And that comment about how BeOS would NOT be a good idea, you should know that BeOS has no problems with user-friendliness and is equal in stability to UNIX, it's just the fact that the company was squished by M$ that keeps it from being the best OS out there.
Rory McCourt · October 28, 2005 - 16:59 EST #49
Mac OS X is just a transition to MacOS 11 which will run on .x86 Intel proccesers. Mac OS 9 is gone. It's not comming back. So what you have to buy a new Mac? Computers get faster and thats just life. It's no different to Windows XP users who are going to have give buy new faster PCs to run Windows Vista. Mac OS 9 was good, but Mac OS 11 will be better, faster, more customizable and the way forward of Computing!
Yuhong · June 26, 2006 - 00:04 EST #50
No support for G3 upgrade cards? Has always been this way when Apple increases processor requirements. Apple does not support G3s without built-in USB ports? That's not true until 10.3.

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