Wall Street Journal Praises Mac OS X, Discusses Financial Impact And Innovation

The Wall Street Journalis Walter S. Mossberg, arguably the most influential tech writer in the US, has wielded his mighty pen in favor of Mac OS X. Mr. Mossberg covers computer related issues for the WSJ, and todayis column says that Apple is the first out the door with a next generation OS. He also points out that OS X is the first "top-to-bottom overhaul" of the Mac OS since it was initially released in 1984, and says the wait was well worth it. According to the WSJ:

The first big deal about Mac OS X is its stability. In my tests on two Macs, it has never totally crashed on me. Even when a particular program went down, it didnit affect the rest of the computer. No restarts were needed. This is because of two key features. One, called protected memory, walls off each program in its own area of memory so it canit interfere with its neighbors. The other, called preemptive multitasking, allows programs to run simultaneously without clashing.

The second big deal about Mac OS X is its new interface, called Aqua. It bears only a slight resemblance to current Macs and Windows machines. The icons and other elements on the screen are startlingly photo-realistic, the overall effect much bolder. For the first time in years, itis obvious by just looking at the screen whether a computer is a Mac or a Windows machine.

The new interface is dominated by a rectangular strip at the bottom of the screen called the Dock, which holds icons for all your favorite programs and documents. Itis like the Windows taskbar on steroids.

In my tests, the new interface worked very well and very crisply. But it does take some getting used to. Numerous elements familiar to generations of Mac users, like the Apple menu, the control panels, and even the little buttons for closing and resizing windows, are gone or transformed.

Mr. Mossberg continues to praise the OS, despite some of its obvious shortcomings. He does point out that the lack of DVD and CD-RW support is "...an embarrassing lapse" but does not seem to find this a huge deal, as long as Apple provides the promised functionality over the next few months. He concludes, "All in all, Apple has given consumers a very good new operating system, which will gradually get better. Now, itis Microsoftis turn." Mr. Mossberg also suggests that normal computer users wait until the summer update before diving into Mac OS X, advice we think is sound.

You can read the entire article at the Wall Street Journal Web site.

The WSJ also covered the impact that Mac OS X will have on Apple in terms of finances and the companyis reputation. In a separate piece by Pui-Wing Tam, the WSJ discusses how Mac OS X came to be, why itis important, and what affect it will have on the company. According go to the article:

Mac OS X could also be a key to Appleis profitability. In late 2000, hit by a slowing world-wide economy and lukewarm responses to some Apple products, the Cupertino, Calif., computer maker recorded its first quarterly loss in several years. Mac OS X, designed to be both powerful and easy to use, could lure new users and rebuild market share that has remained stuck at around 3%, according to the market-research firm Gartner.

Analysts believe Apple loyalists will rush out to buy Mac OS X but that mainstream buyers will hold off. Chris Le Tocq, a Gartner analyst, says OS X sets a new standard for user interfaces and may gain some ground among consumers. But he says itis not clear that Apple will boost its market share among business customers outside its current stronghold in fields like publishing and design.

In the past, Apple hasnit given retailers much advance warning about new products, preferring to surprise the public at trade shows and then shipping new products immediately afterward. But Apple announced in January that it would roll out the new operating system in late March, giving retailers plenty of time to plan.

As a result, stores around the world that sell Apple products -- like Mr. Landforceis in Oregon and Washington -- are preparing for a big splash this Saturday. Apple is adding to the hype by supplying posters, brochures, T-shirts and other goodies, and fanning out its own sales force for in-store demonstrations.

We recommend the full article.