Apple Computer Inc CEO Gil Amelio will stand up at MacWorld in San Francisco today and describe his view of the company’s salvation, and it’s a double vision of MacOS and NextStep running on the Macintosh. Following its acquisition of Next Software Inc last month, Apple got on the phone with executives from IBM Corp, Motorola Inc and Power Computing Inc to discuss the plan yesterday morning. As well as a continuation of the current Mac OS lineage with the Harmony 7.6 release and three others beyond, the company will compose a NeXTstep-based Mac OS operating system called Rhapsody which replace the ill-fated Mac OS 8 Copland project. There will be two Rhapsody personalities; Blue Box and Yellow Box. Blue Box will provide essentially the same functionality as that currently delivered the Macintosh application environment (MAE) which allows users to run Mac applications and controls in a window in non-Mac OS environments, though not all drivers are supported. Blue Box will be a PowerPC version of NeXTsteps Mach-based microkernel. Yellow Box is OpenStep – the operating system-independent version of the NeXtStep object interface and deployment environment – running native on PowerPC and other platforms such as iAPX-86. This will provide Apple with the protected memory, SMP support and multitasking features it currently lacks which means that if an application crashes it doesnt bring the whole system down as currently happens in Mac OS. One area of uncertainty is how compatible the two file systems will be as there’s the Mac file system in the Blue box and an HFS Unix-derived file system in the Yellow. While some form of data sharing is anticipated, there’ll be no drag-and-drop between them. Apple is apparently going to try to hide the Unix file systems under a Mac-like NextStep interface.
Three dot releases already planned for the MacOS 7.6 lineage are Tempo, Allegra and Sonata. 7.6 is the anticipated Harmony upgrade to 7.5 due later this month. Tempo, due some time in the summer is a new Finder with a 3D browser and other interface tweaks, including certain NeXTstep elements. Details of Allegro and Sonata were not available yesterday, but the former is due to appear around a year from now with Sonata due in spring 1998. A developer’s release of Rhapsody is due in the second or third quarter this year and will be a basic yellow thing,, according to sources. The premiere releases of the full Blue and full Yellow personalities are due the first quarter of next year, though Jim Gable, VP system software product marketing said it would appear at the turn on the year. In between the basic and premiere releases will come an early hybrid, with some Blue and some Yellow elements. ISV reaction has been luke-warm to say the least. Adobe Systems Inc says it will be proactive, but hasnt yet committed itself to moving its stuff over to the new operating systems. Microsoft is expected to support the move. Only Metrowerks has painted itself green and yellow to date.
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