Subject: PC Magazine NeXTSTEP Review
Sender: garr...@nugget.rmNUG.ORG (Garrett Rice)
Organization: Rocky Mountain NeXT Users' Group
Date: Fri, 21 May 1993 06:40:28 GMT
Just off the wire (excuse me if its already been posted).
Renaissance Software, Inc.
The NEXTSTEP Generation
PC Magazine June 15
by Heidi A. Patton and Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols
Screen caption: NeXTSTEP for Intel Processors has a user interface that's
nothing short of breathtaking. With 24-bit graphics support, NeXTSTEP offers
true-color images that move with fluidity on the screen.
NeXT is known for its innovating operating system, which until
recently, has been available only with the company's proprietary black
hardware, the futuristic NeXTcube. But recently, NeXT sold the hardware part
of its business to Canon, now to enjoy wider success, it has been working to
make its software available on the Intel platform.
NeXT hopes to convince users that its OS is a more productive
environment than the better-known alternative: Windows NT, OS/2, and the more
traditional implementations of Unix. So much of NeXTSTEP is based on cutting
edge object-oriented technology, that it has often been compared with operating
systems not even available yet: Taligent's Pink and Microsoft's Cairo project.
NeXT is determined to make the most of its NeXTSTEP for Intel
Processors. The early beta we saw didn't yet contain the forthcoming DOS
emulation, but it did show off the gorgeous user interface and the productive
Interface Builder development environment.
NeXT has rigorously adhered to the object-oriented paradigm in
NeXTSTEP. The graphical environment, dubbed the Workspace Manager, is a highly
designed interface where end users can easily mix menus, icons, and windows
into a customized interface--no third-party development tools required. File
manipulation and program launching is all done by drag and drop, and NeXTSTEP
supports ObjectLinks, where changes made in one document element are
automatically reflected wherever that element appears. Multitasking,
networking, and multimedia are securely integrated. While multiple operations
still leave Windows 3.1 floundering, NeXTSTEP (thanks to its enhanced Mach
operating kernel) never skips a stitch while running half a dozen operations at
once. The multimedia support provides video-in-a-window capabilities and full
NeXTSTEP's real-time graphics amaze and delight. It is the only Unix
we looked that integrates 24-bit graphics support. The system takes advantage
of the linear frame-buffer facilities available in many high-end graphics cards
and employs a technique called "windows backing store," which keeps keeps
windows images in either memory or virtual memory. As long as you've got RAM
to spare, NeXTSTEP gives you eye-popping true visual color images that move
with incredible fluidity on-screen. The technique also allows fancy visual
effects like image transparency, in which images can be seen through other
images. NeXTSTEP also includes cross-application support the Pantone
These visual delights come at a cost. NeXTSTEP requires a minimum of
16MB of RAM for color graphics (24MB are recommended). Moreover, NeXTSTEP uses
486-specific instructions, and runs only on 486- or Pentium-powered machines.
All that plus the required 120MB of hard disk space for the user environment
alone, adds up to an operating system that demands haute cuisine hardware.
Communications will also prove to be a strong point for NeXTSTEP. The
Mach kernel supports object-messaging, which simplifies not only interprocess
communications but also inter-system communications. NeXTSTEP has always
supported Unix's networking standards, like NFS, TCP/IP. Release 3.0, which is
NeXTSTEP's foundation, comes with NetWare client and Macintosh AppleShare
OOP DEVELOPMENT TOOLS INCLUDED
NeXT is also bringing NeXTSTEP's well respected development environment
to the PC world. The Project Builder component is an integrated
point-and-click application for managing and maintaining development projects.
The Interface Builder helps developers create user interfaces that are
consistent with the look and feel of all other NeXTSTEP applications. For
commonly used programming objects (like panels for selecting files and objects
that handle data exchange and printing), NeXTSTEP includes the Application Kit.
Programmers can plug these ready-made elements into their applications or
tailor them for more specific functionality. There's even an object-oriented
database tool, the Database Kit, that lets programmers build GUI front-end
database apps quickly.
GOOD APPLICATION SUPPORT
Several popular programs like WordPerfect, Adobe Illustrator, Lotus
Improv, and Informix's Wingz, already exist in NeXTSTEP. The operating system
itself comes with a variety of cutting-edge applications, such as a multimedia
e-mail system that lets you send and receive sound and graphic elements as well
We'll need to wait to see how NeXTSTEP handles DOS and Windows
applications, though. NeXT's integration of Insignia's Software's SoftPC DOS
emulation was unavailable for testings during the beta cycle. SoftPC allows
you to run DOS 5.0- and Windows 3.1-compatible programs in standard mode.
NeXTSTEP for PCs is as beautiful and awe-inspiring to look at as its
picture on the on the company's sleek black boxes. Its easy-to-use
object-oriented interface makes it stand apart from the other 32-bit operating
systems. The steep hardware requirements may not make it the Volkswagon of
operating systems, but there's always a market for a Mercedes.