Bits and Pieces
My Mac Magazine #18, Oct. ’96

Articles on the upcoming Epic line of PowerBooks are starting to pop up here and there. Computerworld (Aug. 26) announced that Epics should be available starting in November. Apple’s notebook computers currently rank number nine in sales. The Epic “will be based on the 603e PowerPC processor.” A new stab at laptops is long overdue from Apple as far as the industry is concerned. The much-hyped release of several PowerBooks last summer fizzled when the computers started exhibiting strange behavior – [Suggest: little things] like cracking open and catching fire. Meanwhile, it is reported that IBM’s plans for IBM ThinkPads running the Mac OS have been killed, at least for sales here in the States. They might turn up in Japan, but the U.S. will get something (less powerful) called a ThinkBook.

Infoworld (Aug. 12) gave front page coverage to Apple’s plans to sell its Meta Content Format (MCF, code-named Project X) to corporations. “Meta Content Format can transform HTML-based data into a multi-layered graphics presentation that lets users view several layers of data at a time, rather than screen by screen.” Project X seems to be getting taken seriously by the industry in these early stages because of its possible implications and its cross platform nature. Computerworld (Sept. 2) points out the connection between Project X and the new QuickTime plug-ins for World Wide Web browsers like Netscape’s Navigator. These plug-ins work with Windows just as easily as with Macs. Computerworld notes that “Yahoo, Inc. has committed to supporting MCF by creating an MCF-compliant version of its home page.”

Infoworld didn’t seem to have much of an opinion on Project X, demonstrated at the Macworld Expo show in Boston. It did, however, have an opinion on a “purse-shaped portable” computer which left those attending the show wondering exactly what market Apple is going after. And the plan to release Copland in pieces over several months next year instead of as a finished product was apparently received with confusion. Infoworld reports that the first piece of System 8 to be released will be the Harmony upgrade, “due by Jan. 1, 1997.” It will include OpenDoc, Cyberdog, QuickTime 2.5, and QuickDraw 3D.

Informationweek ‘s August 12 issue included an article detailing Gil Amelio’s blessing of OpenDoc projects at the Macworld Expo. IW explained that the biggest problem for OpenDoc is that it has received no support at all from Microsoft. (See “Let Me Contradict Myself,” below.) The magazine quotes a Microsoft manager as saying, “We have zero customers who are requesting it.” Now, even though Microsoft is playing so nice with Apple lately that conspiracy theories were reportedly flying at the Expo, I don’t expect too many of Microsoft’s customers would bother asking the makers of Active X for OpenDoc. Would you?

Informationweek also records Apple’s curious announcement (considering how the company is supposed to be at death’s door) that it has 600 job openings. No, I don’t know which jobs, but you might find some clues at

As recorded in last month’s column, the folks at Lotus were getting downright nasty about the idea of making their pet Notes compatible with Apple’s OpenDoc. Parent company and co- OpenDoc parent IBM has yet to make a move, but Lotus (as reported by Infoworld Aug. 12) is now at least ready to make Lotus Notes compatible with Apple Network Servers.

A horrible thing happened several months ago that I chose not to record in my column. The writer of Infoworld’s Distributed Thinking column, Stewart Alsop, who gets the prime back-page position, switched from a Mac to Windows 95. He really had no choice, he told his readers, because the company was switching to a single platform.

The horrible part was that he really liked Windows 95, and after using it for a while, began to get a little enthusiastic about it. It was stable, it was easy, it was intuitive … why, it was nothing to get upset about at all! In fact, he was pretty sure after using Windows for a few weeks that it was going to become our planet’s only necessary OS!

That was then. In the August 12th issue, he was writing a different column. No, he wasn’t breathing fire. He hadn’t thrown out his Wintel. But his opinion had changed enough that he felt the need to go to print with an update on a system he no longer feels comfortable with. And as my column is more into the business of promoting Apple than ripping Windows, why bother including for you all the killer quotes from Alsop’s recant?

(Oh, and in a hopefully unrelated incident, Alsop is no longer writing his weekly column in Infoworld….)

InformationWeek (Aug. 12) reports that Intel was none too pleased with a decision by a Rio Rancho, New Mexico high school to opt for Apple Macintoshes. “The problem: Intel had donated $30 million to the Rio Rancho … school system.” The “donation” was part of a industrial bond deal that Intel cut with the local government in exchange for the chance to make improvements to a nearby Intel plant. But as InformationWeek pointed out, the high school simply went with the lowest bidder (that’s the official line anyway) and Intel will still be donating computers to local schools which will have Intel inside.

Apple CEO Gil Amelio, speaking at Macworld in Boston on Aug. 7, quoted by InformationWeek (Aug. 12) :
“We could make a cheap computer, but we’d have to take the memory out, the communications, the SCSI. Sort of like Windows.”

As stated above, I’m not personally in the business of ripping on Microsoft … it’s more a matter of promoting Macintosh. I’ve had to make this distinction lately after the initiation of the browser wars. I know, deep down, that all of us are cheering, whether publicly or privately, for Netscape Navigator to hold off the overwhelming attack of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Cheering for the underdog is normal. But on the other hand, I’ve used Internet Explorer 3.0, and you know what? It’s really good. I’m kind of excited about the coming Mac version that AOL and Netcom are going to try to force on me (although AOL’s first Explorer offering for Mac will reportedly not be 3.0). And my excitement made me think that, despite the civilization-ending horror that is Windows, Microsoft does make some extremely good products.

All of this is simply an attempt to excuse the interesting set of Microsoft MacToids I’m putting in this column. They were printed up in Computerworld’s Aug. 26 issue.
–Microsoft is the second largest developer of Macintosh applications by revenue …
–Microsoft is the fourth largest developer of Macintosh applications by units sold …
–Microsoft ships more than 30 Macintosh software titles …
–Microsoft Office for the Macintosh (that everyone complained so dang much about)
is the company’s most popular Macintosh product.

In the accompanying article, Computerworld said Office 97 for Mac, due next summer, will be Copland-friendly (while still being compatible with earlier Mac systems). Microsoft hasn’t explained whether or not it plans to make Office 97 compatible with such Apple technologies as OpenDoc. One quoted expert pointed out that Microsoft need not bother to do so; the company has 100% of the total Macintosh suite market with the current set of Office programs, and the Mac community hated them, so taking a pass on future Apple technologies is unlikely to hurt sales.

That being said, let’s not forget that Microsoft is becoming so dedicated to Macintosh issues that conspiracy theories are taking shape. What are the behaviors inspiring this? Well, Infoworld’s August 19th issue spent some time discussing that in a trio of Microsoft/Apple articles. Try this latest version of Bill Gates’ to-do list:

–“Microsoft has opened a Silicon Valley center that will concentrate on developing
Internet Explorer 2.0 and 3.0 for the Macintosh….”

–“(Microsoft is) working with a number of smaller companies to identify standards
for Internet development for the Macintosh.”

–“Internet Explorer will support Apple’s OpenDoc component architecture.” (!!!!)

–“(Explorer) will work natively with … QuickTime, QuickTime VR, and QuickDraw

–“Microsoft will continue (developing) its own technologies, such as ActiveX and the
Java virtual machine for the Macintosh….” (Put those swords away.)

–Microsoft is a “charter member of … the Macintosh Internet Developers

–Microsoft and Apple are working on “ways to integrate some of their competing

Nice list. So the question is, why? Well, I pointed out one of the published conspiracy theories in a previous column. Addressing that theory, Infoworld reports a Microsoft spokesman “denied that Microsoft was attempting to prop up Apple in order to fend off another Justice Department anti-trust investigation of Microsoft.” So there you have it. Microsoft must just like Apple’s technology better.

Windows Sources (Sept. 1996) offered this definition of ‘Windows Programmer”:
“Use ideas from Macintosh programs to create wonderful software that Microsoft can build into its OS and thus put you out of business.”

Like Business Week a couple of months ago, TIME (Sept. 16) ran a glowing review/cover story on Bill Gates and his on-the-fly restructuring of Microsoft to meet the Internet challenge. Unlike Business Week, TIME forced itself to meet its own standards of “fair” and “unbiased” reporting by turning the article into an exploration of both Microsoft and its main competitor, Netscape. It was a very interesting article, sure to instill millions of public relations dollars worth of new respect for Bill Gates’ management skills around the world. (And I, for one, am not knocking those skills; only a fool would argue that he hasn’t consistently worked miracles with his company.) The Macintosh references came in scattered bits and pieces. I am always interested in how TIME covers Apple and its competition since TIME went through a much publicized company-wide conversion to Macintosh about two years ago. At any rate, TIME showed a strong skepticism about Microsoft’s plans to release a Mac version of the Internet Explorer … a skepticism that the computer industry press lacks entirely.

Germany’s PC Professionell had this to say about IBM’s version of OpenDoc: “Im Gergensatz zu OLE bringt Open Doc hier seinen zweiten Vorteil ein: Es ist plattformunabhangig.” I have no idea what that means. Hope it’s nice. (Editor’s note: So do we 😉

“There are more people using Macintoshes than there are Australians.” -Wired Magazine Ad (from the SRDS)

Upon moving to the United States from the Netherlands, Adam Curry, one-time MTV VJ and current Internet celeb, made a Mac Plus his first computer. (Web Developer, Sept-Oct 1996)

There was something a little lonely about seeing a two-page ad for Apple’s Newton MessagePad 130 in the September issue of Windows magazine. As if the magazine’s title weren’t clue enough, maybe the makers of the Mac will be reminded of the true purpose of this publication by the title of Bruce F. Webster’s column in the same issue: “Microsoft Windows Forever and Ever.” I swear, that was the honest-to-God title, I am not making it up.

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