Apple's vice president of technology, Ellen Hancock, unveiled Apple's software strategy at the Cebit show in Hanover yesterday. She outlined plans to increase the products' PC and Internet compatibility and attempted to position the company as a major provider of software development solutions.
There was also a first showing of the Mac OS 7.6, codenamed Rhapsody. And Hancock gave some details of Apple's restructuring, to be formally announced today, which involves reshuffling divisions around business functions rather than product-specific units.
Hancock, who is still rumoured to be looking for a move out of Apple, attempted to discard the company's proprietary image once and for all while trying to reassure customers that their investment in the old Mac OS would be preserved. Describing Apple as "a one-prop plane overloaded with luggage", she promised it would reinvent itself to enable a more intelligent and compatible upgrade path for today's major applications, such as multimedia and the Internet.
Mac OS 7.6 (Rhapsody) is the first step in an OS strategy that will see upgrades every six months for at least two years, with the next release, codenamed Tempo, expected in July. Each iteration is aimed at increasing compatibility with Microsoft Windows and Dos and, through Apple Runtime, enabling Java applets to be run on the Mac outside the browser.
Taking a side swipe at Intel's MMX technology, Hancock said that, although Windows compatibility is important, the Cisc platform is not, and Apple will not develop its Rhapsody OS for this.
The main gripe is that Hancock, and Apple as a whole, see the Mac as the main platform for developers, a notion backed by the fact that 64 per cent of Web design is currently done on a Mac.
"The compatibility issues have faded," Hancock said. "Documents can be exchanged across platforms and Java Runtime enables wide reaching Web compatibility. The Mac is now the authoring platform of choice."
Hancock added that digital video disc (DVD) application authoring and broadcast media soutions are two particular markets in which Apple dealers are making major inroads.
It's no coincidence that much of Apple's refocusing has happened following the return of Steve Jobs and the arrival of the Next technologies. Hancock admits that incorporating Next's Openstep has given Apple a "headstart" in developing its OS strategy.
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