In the aftermath of Apple Computer's announcement that it has bought Next, Inc, the part-time return of Steve Jobs - the so-called prodigal son - has attracted much of the attention in Apple's $400m buyout of Next Inc. But the future of the Mac OS will truly rest with Avie Tevanian, formerly Next's vice president of engineering, who will now head the Mac OS 8/NextStep development effort.
Tevanian will lead a team of engineers, comprised of those who had been working on the abandoned Copland effort, as well as some 100 Next engineers developing the NextStep OS and the WebObjects server development tools.
"We want to take advantage of the strengths already here at Apple, and we want to marry into that strength the capabilities from Next engineers," says Apple Chief Technology Officer Ellen Hancock.
Tevanian will report directly to Hancock, and, she says, will receive input as appropriate from Larry Tesler's Internet platforms group, Carlos Montalvo's QuickTime group, and Guerrino De Luca's Claris organization, among others. Hancock and Tevanian have made clear that while development of NextStep and WebObjects will continue on other platforms, his number one priority will be to work on developing, then shipping the new Mac OS.
But Tevanian is taking on leadership of a group that crumbled under the weight of internal conflicts and the departures of key engineers to other companies and eventually had its OS development project killed off by Hancock. Tevanian will be laboring against this negative history, and he will have to get groups of engineers from two different companies to work cooperatively, a challenging task under any circumstances. And he will need to make all this happen on short order.
Tevanian and Hancock say the new Mac OS will be based largely on the NextStep OS with features of the Mac OS to be rolled in over time. The plan is to unveil the first versions of the Next-generation Mac OS in the spring of 1997 in a release that will provide little in the way of backward compatibility with System 7. Future versions of the OS, which has yet to be named, will include greater compatibility, according to Tevanian and Hancock.
The Next buyout also marks other changes to Apple's management structure, including the return of another former Apple employee, Rick LeFaivre, who will head Apple's newly created Apple Technology Group and report directly to Hancock. That group will include Apple's research laboratories, human interface technologies, and advanced systems architecture, intended to support hardware and software integration.
Mitch Manditch, formerly Next's vice president of Worldwide Sales and Services, will join Apple reporting to Marco Landi, Apple's Chief Operating Officer. Dominique Trempont, Next's Chief Financial Officer will also assume a management position at Apple although his exact position was not specified.