Taking small steps is the order of the day for Apple's new strategy for operating system releases. The company plans two system releases next year that will encompass most of the core technologies promised for Copland. By the time Apple ships its second planned system release in mid-1997, most of the features previously promised for System 8.0, code-named Copland, will be available, Apple executives say.
However, Apple is stopping short of guaranteeing that everything that was scheduled to be incorporated into Copland by mid-1997 would actually make it into the third quarter system software release, and even then, Apple might not call it the System 8.0 release. "We still haven't decided if we will ever have a System 8.0, or if we'll just call it something else," says Apple vice-president Jim Gable.
In January, Apple will release its promised mid-term upgrade of the System 7.5x operating system, which will incorporate OpenDoc, Cyberdog, QuickTime and QuickDraw 3D into the operating system. Apple also will be introducing a significant upgrade to the Macintosh operating system next third quarter, but it is refusing to indicate which features will actually make it into that release.
However, Apple will complete work on a developer's release for Copland, or System 8, Gable says.
Some of the technologies that have been promised for Copland, or System 8.0, include true pre-emptive multitasking and multithreading capabilities for Copland's ToolBox and Finder, a new driver model, and the microkernel architecture.
Some third-party software developers have been grumbling about Apple's decision to offer a series of fast-paced, incremental upgrades to the Macintosh operating system instead of one massive release. "I don't think Apple has really thought this through too well," one developer says, indicating that his company might selectively support the new OS release, waiting until enough new features have been added before revamping its applications.
"Corporate users don't usually standardise on any new technology immediately, so we might hold up developing until after a few versions of the system software releases are available," the developer says.
However, Gable predicts that as developers and users become more familiar with Apple's OS plans, they will welcome the idea. "Essentially, we revealed this plan at Macworld to everyone at the same time, so developers were hearing about it for the first time with everyone else," Gable says.
"This will let us make important technology available sooner," Gable says, "and some of that technology would only have been available for the Power Macintosh line. Now we can look at making it work with at least 68040 systems as well."
Few but major changes
System 7.5 new features
* QuickDraw 3D
System 8.0 promised features
* Pre-emptive multitasking and multithreading for ToolBox and Finder
* New driver model
* Microkernel architecture