Mac OS and NeXT Technologies FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions about the combination of operating system technologies from Apple and NeXT
Q: What has Apple announced regarding the evolution of the Mac OS?
A: Apple plans to deliver two operating systems for the next several years. First will be the Mac OS, which we will continue to upgrade and improve to support the current Macintosh customers worldwide, approximately 60 million users. Second will be a new OS based on NeXT Software's operating system technologies, NEXTSTEP and OPENSTEP. The powerful and advanced NeXT technologies are years ahead of competitive offerings, and will provide the foundation for a new OS, code-named Rhapsody. In addition to leveraging the NeXT technologies, Rhapsody is designed to run Mac applications through a Mac OS compatibility environment.
Q. When will Rhapsody ship?
A: Apple plans a first release for developers in 1997; a release for early adopters within 12 months that will offer the new application environment and some degree of backward compatibility; and a unified release, that will include extensive Mac OS application compatibility in mid-1998.
Q: Which Mac systems will be supported by Rhapsody?
A: Apple's goal is for Rhapsody to support all PowerPC-processor based Macintosh hardware sold by Apple and Apple licensees since January 7, 1997, and all upcoming products including the PowerPC Platform, also known as CHRP. Apple is investigating the work required to support older PowerPC systems as well.
Q: Will existing 680x0 and PowerPC applications run on Rhapsody?
A: Yes. Rhapsody is designed to support a native version of the Mac OS, hosted on a modern microkernel. We are not simply building an "emulator" for backward compatibility--it is the same source code as the Mac OS. We expect very good compatibility for applications, utilities, fonts, extensions, and software components. Compatibility with networks, printers, monitors, and cards is expected to be very good for products that have the appropriate new drivers. This preserves the enormous investment in files and applications made by Mac users and developers. This capability will be offered via the Mac OS compatibility environment.
Q: What will Apple name today's Mac OS and Rhapsody?
A: Today's OS remains the Mac OS. The new OS will be formally named later; meanwhile, the code name is Rhapsody.
Q: How will Rhapsody look and feel? Will it be like the Mac OS Finder or NeXT's Workspace?
A: Rhapsody's user interface will combine elements from both the Mac OS and NEXTSTEP, but will be closer in look and feel to the Mac OS Finder. We realize that customers need a consistent interface in the two operating systems to deploy them throughout a single organization. It's important for training and ease of use. One of the advantages of NeXT's technology is the easy support of multiple user interface paradigms.
Q: Which microkernel will Rhapsody support?
A:Apple has chosen to implement the Mach microkernel, developed at Carnegie Mellon University and further refined by NeXT Software, Inc., as part of the core operating system for Rhapsody, Apple's next generation operating system. Mach is a well regarded, robust kernel designed to provide the low-level functionality of an operating system, such as memory management, tasking, synchronization, timing and messaging. These services form the basis of advanced operating system capabilities, including preemptive multitasking, memory protection and symmetric multiprocessing (SMP). See below: 5 Key Points about the Mach Microkernel
Q: Will the QuickTime Media Layer (QTML) technologies be ported?
A: Yes. QTML technologies will be ported to Rhapsody as they are on other platforms today.
Q: Will OpenDoc be supported in Rhapsody? How about Java?
A: Apple is moving more of its resources for component technology toward Java-based technology, which is becoming the industry standard. OpenDoc will ship in Mac OS, but we are not planning any major updates. Apple will not port OpenDoc to the OPENSTEP APIs (Yellow Box) in Rhapsody. Apple expects that OpenDoc will be delivered on Rhapsody as part of the Mac OS Compatibility Environment (Blue Box).
Q: Will Rhapsody support Display PostScript, QuickDraw GX, or some hybrid?
A: Apple intends to adopt the PostScript imaging model for Rhapsody and migrate the best of our existing graphic technologies to that model, including ColorSync and GX typography. This will provide front-to-back PostScript support for publishing developers and customers. Technical details of QuickDraw and QuickDraw GX integration are still under investigation.
Q: Do developers need to learn Objective C to create applications for Rhapsody? Will Apple's technology APIs be rewritten in Objective C?
A: We intend to allow developers to use the programming languages of their choice for new application development in Rhapsody. Objective C is the native language and will offer some advantages over other languages, but with partners like Metrowerks we expect to offer Java, C, C++, and Pascal as viable languages. Over time, we expect a greater focus on Java as a development platform.
Q. What markets will Rhapsody target?
A: Rhapsody will be aimed at all of Apple's market segments. At the outset, we expect that customers in publishing, enterprise, higher education, multimedia, and scientific and technical environments will enjoy its benefits. Over time we expect consumers and K-12 customers to adopt it as well.
Q. How long will Apple continue to enhance Mac OS releases?
A: Apple plans to continue to advance the Mac OS until our customers transition to Rhapsody. We expect that this transition will take several years.
Q: What advantages will Rhapsody have over competing offerings?
A: The combination of Apple's and NeXT's strengths will result, we believe, in an OS that meets or exceeds competing operating systems in every feature category important to existing Macintosh customers and developers. In addition, we expect that the new OS will strengthen Apple's position in the Web authoring and enterprise markets.
Today's Mac OS is the clear leader in ease of use, plug and play operation, graphics and publishing, and multimedia, and has many advantages in Internet technologies, component technologies, and support for high-performance PowerPC microprocessor technology.
NeXT technologies complement these strengths with outstanding capabilities in system reliability and robustness, full preemption and protection, file system, I/O, networking, Internet services, internationalization, and additional strengths in user interface design. Moreover, NeXT technologies offer a complete and robust application toolbox to create outstanding, innovative applications, plus an application development environment years ahead of competitive offerings.
Mach Microkernel: The Five Key Points
Updated: February 3, 1997
Apple has chosen to implement the Mach microkernel, developed at Carnegie Mellon University and further refined by NeXT Software, Inc., as part of the core operating system for Rhapsody, Apple's next generation operating system. Mach is a well regarded, robust kernel designed to provide the low-level functionality of an operating system, such as memory management, tasking, synchronization, timing and messaging. These services form the basis of advanced operating system capabilities, including preemptive multitasking, memory protection and symmetric multiprocessing (SMP).
Meets Key Kernel Criteria
Apple selected the Mach kernel because it satisfied the company's key criteria in areas such as scalability from notebooks to servers; ease of evolution; and ease of integration with other parts of the Rhapsody architecture.
The vast majority of software developers need not concern themselves with the kernel as they will write their applications to the OPENSTEP Applications Program Interface (API). As for customers, Apple's kernel decision has little impact as users will experience the benefits of the Mach kernel while being shielded from its complexity.
Rhapsody Delivery On Track
Apple met its commitment to provide a decision on the microkernel in January and remains on track to deliver a developer release of Rhapsody in mid-1997, a Premier customer release of Rhapsody in late-1997/early-1998, and a Unified customer release of Rhapsody in mid-1998.
Compatibility with current Mac OS applications is not dependent on the kernel, it is dependent on the hosting of the Mac OS environment in Rhapsody. Apple expects that the Unified release of Rhapsody in mid-1998 will have solid compatibility with Mac OS applications.