From: tr...@athena.com (Tracy Kugelman)
Subject: PC Magazine ---Good News
Date: 23 Jul 1993 15:34:01 GMT
Organization: Athena Design, Inc.
Keywords: press, review
This article is reprinted without permission.
NeXTStep Brings Objectivity to Operating Systems
by Stephen J. Vaughan-Nichols
Choosing among high-end operating systems just got harder. If you think
the choice between OS/2 and Windows NT (not to mention UnixWare and
Solaris) is complex, now add NeXTStep for Intel Processors from NeXT to
First developed as the operating system of the now discontinued
NeXT computer, the $795 NeXTStep workstation operating system brings a
distinctly different look and feel to today's PCs. With the arrival of
NeXTStep, object-oriented operating systems are no longer the stuff of
science fiction for PC users. It is just this design approach that makes
NeXTStep an extraordinary development platform ready for corporate
Other than built-in networking, multimedia e-mail, true
multitasking, and support for 24-bit true color graphics, what does
NeXTStep deliver? First and foremost is a breathtaking interface the
Workspace Manager that rivals and even surpasses that of the Macintosh.
However, one thing you won't get in this version is the ability to
run MS-DOS or Windows programs. This was promised as an option through
Insignia Solution's SoftPC, but it's one that won't be fulfilled until
fall, when NeXTStep 3.2 appears (a free upgrade to registered users will
A WORLD OF OBJECTS
NeXTStep's interface is completely object oriented, which means that
Workspace Manger's individual elements icons, menus, and windows can be
taken apart and sewed back together to form a customized interface.
For example, there's a "shelf" for files and an "application dock"
for programs that resemble icon bars in Windows apps. But unlike icon
bars, where you can place only predetermined program functions, NeXTStep's
shelves accommodate any program, directory, or file for quick retrieval.
The object metaphor is carried beyond the interface. For example,
linked editable items, such as documents, use Object Links (similar in
concept to Windows' Object Linking and Embedding) to transport changes
from a document to a spreadsheet automatically and transparently.
Applications don't need to be aware of this facility since it's built into
the operating system.
A multithreaded, multiprocessing microkernel operating system
called Mach makes the Workspace Manager run smoothly. Mach gives NeXTStep
the ability to run multiple applications at once without the starts and
stops that plague the performance of other operating systems that
On top of Mach is NeXTStep's version of Unix. Don't start
sneezing if you're allergic to Unix: NeXTStep completely protects you
from Unix's complexities while preserving its file access structure and
rich command set. Thanks to the Workspace Manager, most users will never
know they're running Unix.
NeXTStep has superior interoperability features. Besides the
TCP/IP and NFS client/server networking capacity it inherits from Unix,
NeXTStep comes ready to step into existing NetWare networks as a NetWare
client. And it can use not only Unix and DOS files, but Macintosh files
The $1,995 price tag of the separate developer's version of NextStep
shouldn't scare off developers. The development environment and
language Objective C make building programs from reusable objects as easy
as building houses from Lincoln Logs.
NeXTStep isn't high and dry on the application side either. Word
Perfect, Mesa (a spreadsheet) and Gupta SQLBase Server are now available,
to name a few. NeXT includes a catalog of apps along with a sampler
CD-ROM in NeXTStep. It also comes richly endowed with its own apps:
NeXTMail, a network-capable mail system that includes multimedia; an
editor that works with ASCII and rich text format files and displays EPS
and TIFF graphic files: VT-100 and 3270 terminal emulators: network system
administration tools; an on-line version of Webster's Ninth New Collegiate
Dictionary and Collegiate Thesaurus; and the complete works of
NeXTStep is a truly rich package, but it's not perfect. Like any
32-bit operating system, there's a paucity of drivers. Though it has a
more complete collection of video drivers than OS/2 2.1, it can work only
with PostScript printers. One other oddity: NeXTStep can only wok on a
system with a single 3.5-inch high-density floppy disk drive. The
5.25-inch disk drive must be disabled if you have one.
NeXTStep doesn't belong on everyone's desktop. The massive system
requirements alone (16MB RAM, 120MB hard disk space) put it beyond the
reach of most users. Still, in testing, NeXTStep worked like a fine Swiss
watch both in standalone mode and concurrently as a node on NetWare and
TCP/IP networks. And adventurous programmers will be delighted with
NextStep's development environment. We foresee NeXTStep taking a place
similar to that of the Macintosh: an operating system that's not for
everyone, but extraordinarily powerful and easy to use for those willing
to travel a path away from the mainstream.
Fact File: NeXTStep Release 3.1 for Intel Processors
NeXT Inc., 900 Chesapeake Drive
Redwood City, CA 94063
List price: $795; developer's version, $1,995.
Requirements: 16MB RAM (24MB recommended); 120 MB hard disk space (200MB
recommended: 486DX processor of better; SCSI
In Short: The first PC-based version of NeXTStep has intriguing
interface twists and the ability to multitask flawlessly. The catch: it
doesn't run DOS and Windows applications.
Screen shot graphic with caption:
ANOTHER OS: NeXTStep hides its Unix-based core with a great
Tracy Kugelman, Director Athena Design
Sales and Marketing