Apple makes OS X U-turn

'Forget everything we said'...
Written by Joe Wilcox, Contributor

'Forget everything we said'...

Apple has performed a U-turn on a plan that would have made Mac OS X the primary operating system on all new Macs starting in January. In September, Apple said all new Macs, as of January, would only boot up into Mac OS X. New systems would still ship with OS 9.2 - to support the 'Classic' mode for older software - but it could only be accessed through OS X. However, Apple has now said it will continue to sell schools some Macs capable of booting up into Mac OS 9, and will continue to sell a Power Mac G4 geared toward professionals such as graphic designers until June. The change in strategy highlights a long-standing problem for Apple - moving customers over to Mac OS X. Apple released the new OS in March 2001 but quickly received criticism from users and software developers. The first iteration shipped without support for DVD or CD-rewritable drives. At the same time, developers complained about problems with application programming interfaces (APIs) - software hooks to the operating system - that made moving applications to Mac OS X more difficult. Only after Mac OS X 10.1 shipped, in September 2001, did Apple iron out most of the kinks. Soon after, Adobe Systems, Microsoft and many other major Mac developers started shipping OS X versions of their software. However, Quark - which makes one of the most important software applications sold for the Mac, the publishing program QuarkXPress - stuck with a Mac OS 9.2 version of its product. That situation potentially created a problem for Quark users looking to buy a new Mac but needing to boot into the older Mac OS 9.2. And Quark is still not expected to release a Mac OS X version of QuarkXPress at next month's Macworld trade show, according to Apple. IDC analyst Roger Kay said: "To not have one of the key apps that serves their primary target segment for their new operating system is a festering infection that could precipitate defections among its most loyal customers." Quark released a new version of QuarkXPress for Windows XP and Mac OS 9 in January. Rival Adobe has tried to use Quark's absence to drum up sales of its competing page-layout software InDesign 2, which runs natively on Mac OS X. A statement from Apple said: "Apple's professional customers are rapidly adopting Mac OS X, with more than 80 percent now choosing Mac OS X as their default OS. To accommodate a minority of our pro customers still running Mac OS 9 applications such as QuarkXPress, Apple will continue to offer a 1.25GHz dual-processor Power Mac that will boot into Mac OS 9 until June." Apple also faced potential problems in the education market. Because of buying cycles and the downturn in the economy, some education customers were moving to Mac OS X at a slower pace than the rest of the Mac market. IDC's Kay said "The education budgets next year, like all public sector budgets, are going to be negatively affected by lower tax receipts this year based on the down economy." Slow release of native education software exacerbated the problem. In an attempt to jump-start education conversion, Apple in October offered teachers free copies of Mac OS X 10.2, or Jaguar, through the end of the year. Joe Wilcox writes for News.com
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