Copland delays add to Apple's miseries

Apple has topped off a week of losses and planned layoffs by confirming long-standing predictions that the Copland operating system will be late.

As expected, Copland -- the much-ballyhooed next-generation Macintosh operating system from Apple in Cupertino, California -- won't be out this year as promised. Instead, Gilbert Amelio, Apple's chairman and CEO, says it will be "a 1997 event".

He is declining to give a specific ship date and notes only the need for more testing to ensure the stability of the operating system.

Copland, the next major iteration of the Mac OS, was promised with a features set that would include a microkernel, a customisable interface, revamped file management, advanced search capabilities and support for Internet messaging protocols and OpenDoc.

Late delivery of Copland, which has been under development for three years, may turn into a nonevent for users. Some of the improvements originally slated for Copland, such as built-in Internet access and revamped file management, will instead be incorporated in a series of incremental upgrades to System 7.5, according to Amelio.

The decision to roll some Copland features into System 7.5 upgrades undoubtedly will steal some of the much-needed thunder Apple hoped Copland would generate, which in turn was expected to help boost sagging market share. During the past quarter, Apple's share of the US PC market dropped to 9.5%, compared with 11.1% for the same period last year, according to Computer Intelligence InfoCorp in La Jolla, California.

Amelio plans to outline his plan to restore Apple to profitability at next month's Apple Worldwide Developer Conference in San Jose, California. He says Apple's future direction is to capitalise on the Internet and the convergence of communications, computing and multimedia.

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