What is it: Macintosh operating system.
Applications: upgrade or replacement system with built-in Internet facilities and an enhanced desktop.
When Apple launched the Macintosh graphical user interface (GUI) in 1984, it redefined the way in which we interact with computers. No code lines, no specialist knowledge, no big reference manuals ? you simply pointed a mouse and clicked. GUIs have since become the norm.
Now Mac OS 8 has arrived. According to all the hype, this is Apple?s most significant operating system release since 1984 and has many improvements on System 7xx. However, OS 8 has a lot of ground to make up on Windows 95.
The new operating system has a number of key features that have been missing from previous releases, the most important being a PowerPC-native finder that supports true multi-threaded multitasking. So deleting files, duplicating folders and launching applications and documents can take place simultaneously. Other improvements include spring-loaded folders that automatically open when a file is dragged over an icon and pop-up windows that allow folders or drives to be placed at the bottom of the screen, much like Windows 95. You can now view the contents of folders in a ?list? which, again, is similar to Windows. The addition of these features makes OS 8 noticeably slower than System 7.6, but it is more stable than before.
Integrated intranet/ Internet connectivity has also been improved, with a setup assistant for TCP/IP settings for mail and network/modem intranet/internet access. However, you still need to know your PPP settings, and configuration isn?t straightforward even if you use the setup assistant. Once installed, the new Internet and connectivity aspects of OS 8 become obvious, with new icons for ?browse the internet? and ?mail? appearing at start up. These launch either a browser or an email client. OS 8 contains a full version of Internet Explorer, thanks to a recent high-profile deal with Microsoft. But, when matched against the capabilities that will be available with Microsoft?s Web-intergrated next generation of Windows ? code-named Memphis ? OS 8?s intranet/internet application based functionality seems limited.
The area in which the Macintosh has always excelled is multimedia and OS 8 is no exception. It comes with Mac OS Runtime for Java, a new multi-platform media-layering version of Quicktime 2.5 and full support for MPEG software decompression for full-screen, full-motion video playback without any additional hardware. There?s also new versions of Quicktime VR and Quickdraw 3D.
OS 8 might not win Apple many new customers. Mac users have been waiting for this system for years and Apple has already sold 1.2 million copies of the software. But anyone who uses Windows 95 will find it difficult to get excited about a slower operating system that needs 20Mb of RAM to run and takes up 120Mb of hard disk space.
Contact: Apple on 0181 569 1199 or apple.com
Verdict: If you use a Mac already you will love it. Even if it can be a little slow, the finder improvements and enhanced connectivity make it a worthwhile upgrade. If you use Windows 95, stick with it and wait for Memphis.
Many of OS 8?s new features are similar to those offered by shareware companies as add-ons for previous Mac OS releases. Features, like desktop pictures, different colour schemes for windows and more ?view? options, like the one shown, which allows you to select different fields for sorting the data by clicking on the title bars. Also note the new icons for ?browse the Internet?, Mac OS ?info center? and ?mail?, on the desktop.
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