By Clifford Colby (email@example.com) and David Morgenstern
San Jose, Calif. - Although Rhapsody's Yellow Box took center stage at the
Apple Worldwide Developers Conference last week, Apple stressed that the
Mac OS and other technologies will not be a sideshow.
Steven Glass, Apple vice president of Mac OS engineering, said he expects
the Mac OS and Rhapsody to coexist for years, with major Mac OS revisions
scheduled at least through the summer of 2000. He added that the Mac OS
engineering group now has more than 100 members, up from the six engineers
working full time on the OS two years ago, when Apple anticipated that
Copland would soon eclipse System 7.
In an effort to bolster the position of the Mac OS, Apple will continue to
fold in new features as well as focus on stability and speed. For example,
Glass said, Apple will speed virtual memory, I/O, graphics and start-up
times in releases beyond this summer's Mac OS 8. Glass said Apple will also
more tightly integrate Internet tools within the Finder and include more
powerful navigation and search tools, such as V-Twin.
In addition, Apple intends to remove the Mac OS' file-size and
block-allocation constraints through a redesign of its Hierarchical File
System. The upcoming file system, called HFS Plus, will lift the current
2-Gbyte file-size limit to "9 billion gigabytes or something like this,"
said Mark Gealy, a member of the file-system engineering team.
The new format will also boost the efficacy of high-capacity storage.
Although he didn't give exact numbers on how efficient HFS Plus will be,
Gealy said files on an HFS-formatted 4-Gbyte disk took up to four times the
space as the same files on an HFS Plus-formatted 4-Gbyte disk.
Gealy said HFS Plus will appear in a Mac OS update following this summer's
release and will also be part of the Premier Release of Rhapsody, due in
the first part of 1998.
Apple will also adopt Unicode 255-character names and the Universal Disk
Format, the volume format for Digital Video Disc. The format will be made
available through a system extension.
Apple emphasized that the Mac OS will thrive in the Blue Box, the Mac OS
implementation in Rhapsody. The Blue Box, which will include its own Mac
ROM, will be as fast as the current Mac OS, Apple said.
The company also offered details about how the Blue and Yellow boxes will
interact. Users will be able to run in the Blue Box all Mac OS applications
except those that access hardware directly or use low-level system patches.
Blue Box applications will not be able to call Yellow Box APIs, but the two
boxes will be able to communicate via Apple events. Users will be able to
copy and paste between boxes, but not drag and drop, Apple said. Users will
have two modes of viewing the Blue Box: either full screen or with the Mac
OS in a window, sharing the screen with the Yellow Box; Rhapsody will let
users toggle between the two modes. Finally, the system will allow users to
dual-boot the two boxes.
Apple said it intends to use Mac OS 8 in the Premier Release of Rhapsody,
To show off Blue Box progress, Apple demonstrated the current beta of Mac
OS 8 booting within a "pre-pre-pre-alpha" version of the Blue Box, which in
turn ran on the Mach kernel under a 16-Mbyte RAM partition.
Apple also reaffirmed its commitment to its cross-platform QuickTime Media
Layer technologies and laid out features slated for future versions,
including Java integration, interactivity, and enhancements to existing
sprite and streaming video capabilities. The company showed technology
demos of interactive sprites on Windows and Mac platforms, including
animated clouds with transparency effects. In the future, QuickTime will
send Web-based animations to users more quickly, Apple said.
QuickTime Architect Peter Hoddie said that Apple in early 1998 will
release QuickTime Interactive, which will offer a standard player interface
and let interactive media tools work with each other.
According to Hoddie, HyperCard 3.0, due early next year, will become an
authoring tool for QuickTime Interactive. Hoddie used an early version to
edit objects with behaviors and create button and slider controllers. In
the demo, QuickTime 3.0.'s standard video transition effects were triggered
with HyperCard buttons.
There is no off position on the genius switch. ...David Letterman
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