Apple Computer chief technology officer Ellen Hancock has descended into the heart of PC country at PC Expo to stump for all things Macintosh and provide glimpses at the much-anticipated Rhapsody operating system and forthcoming MacOS 8.0.
In a hard sell to the PC crowd, Hancock touted the Mac platform as ideal for the enterprise, citing its Internet and networking capabilities, hardware performance, Java support and cross-platform capabilities.
"We are committed to the enterprise, and more than ever before Apple can make a tremendous difference," said Hancock, speaking to less than a full house.
PC shops that try to coordinate the mixed flavors of Windows, Unix and legacy applications can find "light at the end of the tunnel" with Rhapsody, thanks to Apple's new-found commitment to cross-platform development and Java support, Hancock said.
Billed as the operating system to take Apple into the next century, Rhapsody's foundation, code-named "Yellow Box," is Next's OpenStep APIs. The operating system will also incorporate Next technology such as memory protection, pre-emptive multitasking, multithreading and support for symmetric multiprocessing (SMP). Rhapsody also retains a complete implementation of the MacOS - not an emulation layer - something diehard Mac developers demanded.
Yellow Box, Hancock added, will be portable to the MacOS, Windows NT and 95.
In what she described as the first demonstration of these Rhapsody features, Hancock showed QuickDraw 3D running on Rhapsody and illustrated how QuickDraw 3D services could be called from Java code.
In addition, she showed some features of the user interface itself, some similar to the Mac, others drawn from Next technology. For example, Mac-style menus run across the top. In the file manager or finder, Rhapsody sports new icons that lets users perform tasks via drag-and-drop to create or delete folders and open directories and look at them with different views. The finder scroll bars has the up and down arrows adjacent to one another, a feature drawn from Next.
Mac users were impressed with the Rhapsody demonstrations, particularly the demonstration showing the OpenStep rapid application development environment and how it can be used to develop a QuickTime application from reusable objects.
"You wouldn't have to go to the trouble of writing your own controls," said Brian White, a programmer at Thoughts, a Philadelphia-based firm that develops streaming video security systems on the Mac platform.
His colleague, however, noted that it still won't be easy for Apple to woo corporate shops even with Rhapsody.
"There's been such a hardened push in the industry to NT 4.0," said Bill Fisher, president of Thoughts, who described himself as a Mac fan. "It's going to be hard for Apple to switch that," he added, although the fact that Rhapsody will be able to run on Intel hardware will help.
Rhapsody's developer's release will be available later this year, the premiere release is scheduled to be out in early 1998 and the unified release is due out by mid-1998. MacOS 8.0 is due next month.