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Is OS X Beta Than OS 9?
September 26th, 2000

Randy: Wow! Look at all of those gumdrops all over your desktop! What have you done?

Gary: I installed Mac OS X Public Beta. It is pretty awesome looking, huh?

Randy: Yeah! Let me play!

Gary: In a little bit, chompy. I have some serious testing to do here.

Randy: Like what?

Gary: Like I am trying to figure out where the hell my desktop is.

Randy: That is serious. What do you mean, where your desktop is?

Gary: This is a radical departure from OS 9. So much so that at first, you don't even know where to find stuff through the new finder. I'm getting the hang of it though.

Randy: I see you have been using Sherlock. Way to go, Spock.

Gary: Hey, Sherlock is your friend. That's exactly how I started figuring out where things go in OS X. It does make some sense, but there are a few things that HAVE to change before I will switch over to X.

Randy: Like what? It needs to crash more, so it reminds you of OS 9?

Gary: Now you are talking crazy. OS 9 is extremely stable and polished. A lot of people want OS X because it is buzzword-compliant, meaning it has preemptive multitasking and protected memory. While these things are nice, what really matters is how an OS operates in day to day life.

Randy: OS 9 lets me get my work done.

Gary: Exactly. Although I wouldn't call the Senior Vixens chatroom work.

Randy: Boy, I would.

Gary: Alright. Enough of that. My point is that OS 9 has evolved into a very productive operating system. I can work for days without a reboot, and I know the OS like the back of my hand. OS X has a long way to go before I will switch for my day to day work.

Randy: Tell me more, swami.

Gary: For example, there is no Apple menu or Applications menu. The dock does a reasonable job of replacing some of the functions of those, but not all. There is no Recent Applications folder.

Randy: Aauugghh!!! I use that like a thousand times a day.

Gary: The desktop has a different function in OS X. In OS 9, it is the basis of all work. It's where my hard drives are mounted, it's where e-mail attachments get dumped, and it's where I can juggle files before I start organizing a project. Clearly, Steve Jobs does not think this is the way to work. He wants everything neatly controlled by the Finder.

Randy: But that's the beauty of the Mac! It is so flexible that each user can work in his or her special way. It is ultimately customizable. Is that being taken away from us?

Gary: It appears so. OS X has dedicated folders for Applications and Documents. Try to rename one and another folder with the original name appears immediately. While this probably makes some sense from an organizational point of view, it is a bit disconcerting when your Mac overrides your decisions like that.

Randy: Even if it makes sense, the Mac OS has spent 16 years giving us one paradigm when it comes to our computers. Even if Steve Jobs sees a better way, he damn well better understand that he needs to accommodate what the Mac has been about since 1984.

Gary: There has been a lot of talk that this OS is about getting Windows users to adopt the Mac OS, but what I really see is the NeXT operating system here. That was Steve's baby after he got booted from Apple.

Randy: Before we get too judgmental, it should be pointed out that this is beta software, and does not represent the final release. To Apple's credit, they have been very responsive to customer feedback lately.

Gary: We can only hope that more of our beloved Mac OS that we love so much will make it in to the final cut of OS X.

Randy: And OS X is pretty neato. The GUI is very pretty, even if it does steal some more CPU cycles than it should. The Public Beta is very stable, and some things do work better than OS 9. Our cable modem connection seems to be significantly faster, for example.

Gary: I am concerned about game support though. After Apple made a big point about game support in Mac OS, they have been suspiciously quiet as to what will be supported in OS X. We know there will be OpenGL support, but the rest is a mystery.

Randy: Let's keep our fingers crossed on that one. Because of OS X's robustness and UNIX underpinnings, it does have the potential to be the supreme gaming platform. Don't do us wrong, Apple.

Gary: We will just have to wait and see.

Randy: Hey, man, I thought this column is supposed to be about wasting time? This one feels too informational. I don't like that.

Gary: Well, until Apple fixes a few things, and third-party developers carbonize a few apps so they run native on OS X, that what OS X is all about. Wasting time.

Randy: You mean it just doesn't matter? Like the Be OS?

Gary: Right now, just spending your time figuring out where files go in the new file system is the most productive thing you can do. Come summertime, and we should see the most revolutionary operating system ever.

Randy: If Apple listens to its customers, that is.

Gary Randazzo and Randy Soare are the co-founders of IWS Interactive, a New York based game developer for Macintosh. The IWS in IWS Interactive stands for Idiots With Sticks. How that came about is a long and boring story, but suffice it to say that at four in the morning, it seemed like a good idea.

The demo for IWS Interactive's upcoming mystery-adventure game, Manhattan Apartment Hunter, has recently been released to rave reviews. The Idiots have been into gaming on Apple computers even before the Mac was around. Does anyone remember Choplifter on the Apple IIe? (Boy, we know we do.) Now, they are committed to help ensure that the Mac remains the premiere gaming platform on the planet.

You can email your comment and suggestions to Randy at , and Gary at .


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