Rhapsody in Don's e-mail bag

Apple's Mac OS X announcements have energized the usual suspects. The usual suspects who are bound and determined to use anything Apple does as a way to elevate their harebrained ideas to a level of plausible discourse.

Apple's Mac OS X announcements have energized the usual suspects. The usual suspects who are bound and determined to use anything Apple does as a way to elevate their harebrained ideas to a level of plausible discourse.

My faves this past week came courtesy of the Talk Back feature here on ZDNet -- a feature I love, by the way -- all sucking-up to my bosses aside, and from my ever-growing e-mail.

In addition, plenty of downright sober questions have hit the Net about Apple's new operating system master plan for the future.

With that in mind, lets review a few of the harebrained and sober comments about Mac OS X, and what Apple is doing with Rhapsody:

* Rhapsody Sucks?: "I knew it! Rhapsody sucks and they're dropping it. BeOS now has a better chance of becoming a real challenger to 95/98/NT than 'Mac OS X,' BeOS lacks all this 'baggage' associated with the Mac like 'backward' compatibility. I also have some questions, what is with the 'X' in Mac OS X? Why not use another letter? What's so special about X? Why not Y or Z? These letters are under used in my opinion."

* Crabby Says: An excellent analysis only flawed by two minor facts:
2. Be OS not only lacks baggage, it lacks applications, credibility among any potential buyers, real customers, and a future once Jean-Louis Gassee gets tired of wasting his money on it.

By the way, I was voting for "Mac OS 2000," but the fact it will be released next year put the kibosh on that.

* Asked and Answered: "Why 'Fortunately?' ... in 'Goodbye Rhapsody. We hardly knew ye. Fortunately.' The major flaw in the original Rhapsody strategy was that it didn't take legacy code along too well (though one could argue that the transparent Blue Box as planned for X would have gone a long way)."

* Crabby Says: Thanks for answering your own question.

* Windows Sucks: "As a consumer who is really fed up with Windows, I am really disappointed that Apple hasn't stated loud and clear, once and for all, what will happen to Rhapsody. If they are stupid enough to let slip this tiny chance Microsoft has offered them (and by this I mean bringing out Win98 which is essentially Win95+minor improvements), they fully deserve their fate. Rhapsody was supposed to be everything Windows was not: reliable, modern, easy-to-use. And, best of all, run on Intel machines. I ask, as a Intel PC owner: if not Windows, if not Rhapsody -- what else: Linux??"

* Crabby Says: See my answer to question No. 1 above, then repeat after me: MAC OS X IS RHAPSODY! Feel better?

Oh, and by the way. Apple never intended nor promised to run the full Rhapsody on Intel (i.e, Mac+Yellow Box+Blue Box). What they intended and promised was the ability to run Yellow Box apps on Intel and Windows. And as far I or anyone else can tell, that has not changed. Apple never pitched Rhapsody as a replacement for Windows on Intel, although they might want to.

* Oy Veh!: "Oy veh, all these system acronyms make my head spin! Is anyone but [a] propeller head supposed to be able to follow all this? I hope not, because I know that if I'm confused, Joe and Jane 6-Pack are NEVER going to understand this rigmarole!"

"One other question...will the Yellow Box API's be available for programmers working with either OS X or Intel? Is it true that they are already available for Intel, but won't be available for Mac programmers until next year? The YB strategy is the least clear part of this overall strategy to me. Will it lead to more apps being available on BOTH platforms?"

* Crabby Says: Burp! Sorry, I was chugging a brew. Anyway, Mac OS X is designed explicitly for Joe and Jane 6-Pack. They don't know their Yellow Box from their Windows DLL and don't want to know. They want to buy a really fast, really cheap computer and run really cool software on it without having to get a degree in computer science. They want to surf the Web at the speed of light. They want to download porn so fast that virtual sex becomes commonplace in their homes. And they want their kids to plug into the world of computers and get high-paying jobs so they can pay back all the money they borrowed to send the ingrates to college.

As for the rest of us who do know where our Yellow Boxes go at night, we need a hell of a lot more clear explanations from Apple to answer these questions:

* Will the Yellow Box APIs be supported and enhanced (as Mac OS X goes forward) on Intel AND on Windows, so we can write apps once and deploy them to Mac OS X and Windows?

* Will Apple produce a server version of Mac OS X that offers all the UNIX and Mach stuff that won't make it into Mac OS X?

* Will Apple stick with this strategy long enough so that developers can make a buck?


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