Saturday, April 28, 2007
Mi Vida con La Manzana, Pt.2: Purgatory
At the end of 1990s, the Windows world was significantly changing and once-Mac-unique GUI features were being shamelessly copied. Trying to move the Mac project forward, Apple was internally experimenting with a new operating system code-named Copland, which was to be released as MacOS 8. Its sad history can be found here. In a moment of desperation, some of the parts of the Copland project were implemented into OS 7 and subsequently released under a moniker of MacOS 8. For the average person the need of a new OS was not so obvious, as the GUI and many features were still among the best available, but the system was crashing too often to make users happy. In a common scenario, when one application crashed, the whole system followed. Even though the Win9x releases, especially the disastrous Windows ME were also crashing a lot, they couldn't be considered as an excuse. At that time, Microsoft implemented a preemptive multitasking, while the Mac community was still stuck with a cooperative one. Memory protection management was missing, while Windows NT introduced protected memory. Extension conflicts were also a nightmare. Apple realized that if they couldn't come with their in-house developed system, they had to buy one, which lead to a short flirt with BeOS and ended by a purchase of NeXT Computer in 1997. NeXT Computer, a cute baby of Steve Jobs and the renegades from Apple that joined him on his crusade after he resigned at Apple, was developing not just breathtaking computers but also a platform-independent, object-oriented and multitasking OS called NeXT/OpenSTEP. In 1999, MacOS 9 was released, being a more mature sibling of MacOS 8, but without any significant improvements in system stability. The only really useful feature were user accounts with privileges and therefore we didn't have to install AtEase anymore. Simultaneously, MacOS X Server (as a first hybrid between OpenSTEP and MacOS 8.5) was released, a clear sign that a purchase of NeXT would hopefully bring its fruits soon. In 2000, I accepted a Research Associate position at the MSU.