Windows NT was the star of Apple's Comdex experience last week when the company promised its customers a Macintosh-based system capable of running NT and gained support for its QuickTime technology for Windows 95 and NT from third-party developers.
At Comdex, in Las Vegas, Apple's chief technology officer, Ellen Hancock, promised to deliver a network server in 1997 capable of running IBM's AIX, NT and the MacOS.
According to Hancock, the system, based on Apple's hardware technology, would ship before Apple starts migrating toward the PowerPC reference platform, which will also be capable of running multiple operating systems. Apple will deliver these systems in the second half of 1997.
"Users want this kind of functionality and we're committed to delivering it as soon as possible," Hancock says.
Apple demonstrated at the Las Vegas show one possible solution that is capable of running all three operating systems using a ROM module upgrade that would enable Apple's existing AIX-based Network Server to also support NT and the MacOS.
Although pricing is still very much up in the air, Apple executives expect the price will probably be similar to the US$1300 AIX start-up kit it currently requires for its Network Server systems.
The advantage of developing the prototype ROM device as a real product is that current Network Server users would be able to upgrade their systems, but the company is not yet firmly committed to offering this solution, according to a number of engineers and marketing managers. Technical issues might still result in Apple waiting until the reference platforms are ready before it ships an NT-capable system, they say.
However, Apple is a step closer to bringing its QuickTime multimedia technology to the Windows environment and has announced that it is shipping an alpha version of QuickTime 2.5 for Windows.
When delivered in early 1997, QuickTime for Windows will give multimedia developers the same video, sound, 3-D, videoconferencing and virtual-reality tools that Mac developers have, says Carlos Montalvo, vice-president of Apple's interactive media group.
Eight companies, including Intergraph, Adobe Systems, Macromedia and Truevision are working with Apple to add features such as video frame-grabbing, Windows NT multiprocessor support, memory management and media compression and decompression.