Apple’s OS X ready for primetime

By : |September 25, 2001 0



Peter Henderson

SAN FRANCISCO: A new version of Apple Computer Inc. ‘s OS X operating system
launches this weekend and will clear stumbling blocks to the widespread adoption
of the software to power home entertainment hubs and sophisticated commercial
applications, Apple said on Tuesday.

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The upgraded OS X easily writes, or burns, digital video disks, runs faster,
and allows more customization of the main screen, according to the company.

The new version will be followed in November by a new release of Microsoft
Corp. Office line of word processing and business programs, Phil Schiller,
Apple’s worldwide product marketing vice president, said in an interview.

Apple will give version 10.1 free to current OS X users beginning on
Saturday, about six months after the launch of original version of the operating
system, which the company has touted as its most radical departure since the
1984 launch of the Macintosh computer and its ground-breaking icon-based system.

Apple’s decision to distribute the update free to existing users is part of a
strategy to convince them to build ‘digital hubs’, based on the new Macintosh
system, that would link devices from cameras to DVDs, Schiller said.

"We are still just beginning to build the marketplace for Mac OS
X," he said.

Apple had previously said the transition to OS X would accelerate toward the
end of this year as vendors released programs revamped for the system.

"With this release, (OS X) is much more of a mainstream product,"
Schiller said, "because of the performance and all these features."

Apple Vs ‘the 800-pound Gorilla’
Apple has ratcheted down sales expectations for several quarters, saying that
consumers who make up its key market were slow to resume spending during the
economic slowdown.

PC Data Inc. analyst Stephen Baker said the new operating system version
appeared to fix most problems early adopters had raised and helped the company
move towards what it sees as the future of personal computers.

"It moves Apple into the realms it wants to be in, which is movies,
music and focusing on the digital movement of content," he said.

Apple also hopes that OS X will help it gain ground in key business markets,
such as biotechnology and graphic design, since the system could work better
with high-end network computers that run Unix operating systems, which is also
the base of OS X.

The fastest Macintosh still pales in comparison to multi-million dollar Unix
machines, but it is closely compatible with those systems since OS X is also
based on Unix. "They have a broader use for Mac," Schiller said.

But economic reality still stared Apple in the face, Baker said.
"Regardless of how good the OS is and how neat the new machines are …
that is the 800-pound gorilla standing over everybody. I don’t know that
anything is going to be able to revive sales, at least in the near term,"
he said.

Apple’s shares closed down 5.53 per cent, or 91 cents, to $15.54 on the
Nasdaq on Tuesday. The shares are up almost 5 per cent since the start of the
year.

(C) Reuters Limited 2001.

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