TV-PGApril 10, 2002: Turns out that Mac OS X is so cool, even the guy who invented Java is using it. Meanwhile, Apple posts some Mac Genius job openings that reveal a handful of new stores coming soon, and Microsoft (sort of) pledges to continue developing software for the Mac-- and we even have a reason why you might want to believe that...
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Welcome All Java Geeks (4/10/02)

Even more so than "People Buy Shiny Things," Apple's primary credo in the Second Jobs Dynasty appears to be "If You Build It, Geeks Will Come"-- "it," in this context, being Mac OS X, and a "geek" being anyone of a technological bent who previously would no sooner have chosen a Mac than he or she would have swallowed live flaming bees in a quest for spiritual enlightenment. (We'd like to apologize in advance if we just inadvertently offended any devotees of some obscure flaming-bee-swallowing religion with which we're not familiar. Please don't set fire to our compound. Thank you.)

Now, as we've noted in the past, a higher Geek Ratio among Mac users is a good thing; a wildly varied gene pool is what ensures the survival of a species, and (to put it in as ragingly stereotypical a manner as possible) it's about time we stirred a few more pocket protectors and taped-up pairs of glasses into the mix along with all the black turtlenecks and tie-dyed Grateful Dead t-shirts. The Mac community can only benefit from extra breadth, and once again it's clear that Mac OS X, with its various geek-friendly aspects, is doing a great job of bringing some of the more hardcore techies over to party with The Rest Of Us.

Case in point: Java. By most accounts, Mac OS X is a perfectly spiffy development platform for Java developers. Check out Peter Coffee's latest article in eWeek, as pointed out to us by faithful viewer David Hansen; in it he remarks that the Mac platform has gone from being "infamously unfriendly to casual programmers" to becoming "the machine of choice for out-of-the-box programmability." Sounds pretty much on-target to us, since just a couple of years ago, programming a Mac using anything other than Applescript required prospective developers to shell out some cash, but now developer tools (with Java support) are included free with every new system. Best of all, just because those tools are free doesn't mean they're lame; according to Peter, "Apple has done a tremendous job of making Java code run well-- really well-- on the Mac." And you know that when it comes to gauging relative Java performance, with a surname like "Coffee," the man must know what he's talking about.

Still not convinced on the Java front? Then prepare yourselves for the Big Gun, because the MacEvangeList recently linked to a Computerworld interview with James Gosling-- the guy who actually invented Java in the first place. (That's Java the language, not java the drink; if it were the latter we'd have to name our first-born children after the man or something.) And what does Mr. Java himself have to say about the Mac? He's got plenty of Windows systems kicking around, but he's "shifting to Mac," partially because Microsoft's operating system licenses are no longer "tolerable," but also due to a certain X-factor: "The thing that kind of broke it for me is that I needed a new laptop, and... Apple switched to OS X."

So there you have it, people: Java development, just one more way in which Mac OS X is helping to boost the Nerdiness Quotient among our burgeoning family. Oh, but don't worry-- there'll always be a place in the Mac community for the slightly more arty right-brain segment of the population. For example, faithful viewer Ben Head tells us that Apple's booth was hands-down the biggest draw at the National Association of Broadcasters conference this week, with TV-types practically coming to blows over getting a chance to test-drive Final Cut Pro 3 on those luscious new Apple Cinema HD Displays. Geeks and creative professionals alike united in their lust for the Mac... kinda makes you cry a little, doesn't it? (snif)

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4 New Stores, 3 New States (4/10/02)

Wake the kids and phone the neighbors, retail fans, because the latest batch of unannounced Apple stores is hot off the griddle and ready to elicit what we're sure will be the awed "ooohs" and "aaahs" they so richly deserve. The ever-popular "Coming Soon" section still hasn't returned to Apple's official list of stores, but faithful viewer Karl Kuehn noted that four new Mac Genius positions just showed up on over the past couple of days-- and for those of you who can recite Apple's complete list of open and confirmed future retail locations by heart, it looks like you're going to have to find room for a few unfamiliar city names in that braincase of yours.

First off, there's one coming to the Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi, Michigan-- we don't think we've mentioned that one here, previously, but the Novi store's been public knowledge for probably a couple of months, and it's been listed publicly on Apple's job site for a while, now. The one at Towson Town Center in Towson, Maryland also shows up in Apple's official listings, but that one's a far more recent addition, so it was still a surprise to us. We're not sure we'd seen the third new store listed there, before, either (it's up there now), but Apple's looking for Geniuses to dish out the smarts in Westchester, New York. (That's the seventh confirmed Apple retail store going into New York State, in case you lost count.)

But when last we checked, the fourth store wasn't revealed anywhere on Apple's site, and that's the one that's got us all a-tingle. Faithful viewer Dan Parks Sydow breathlessly informed us that Apple is soliciting for Mac Geniuses to strut their stuff at the Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee. Why is that such a big deal, you ask? Because it just so happens that Katie, AtAT's resident fact-checker and Goddess of Minutiae, lived pretty much her entire life in Wauwatosa prior to trucking out east and eventually landing a deity gig with AtAT. In other words, yeah, we know the Mayfair Mall, and we're tickled pink that Steve Jobs has chosen to honor our own goddess-on-retainer by erecting a retail monument to her in her own home town. Ain't he sweet? If the tribute pleases her, perhaps in return she will bless him with the sudden ability to identify correctly any "Brady Bunch" episode after watching only the first five seconds.

Anyway, even if you don't ascribe any specific importance to the goddess's home town (sacrilege!), it's worth noting that three of these four new store locations establish an Apple retail presence in virgin territory, states-wise: Wisconsin, Maryland, and Michigan. And that's the sort of progress that should put a spring in any Mac-lover's step, religious affiliation notwithstanding.

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Contractual Goofiness (4/10/02)

There's been a certain amount of hand-wringing recently about what might happen once that landmark "technology agreement" between Apple and Microsoft expires this August. You know the one; it guaranteed that Bill and crew would continue to develop and sell Mac versions of Microsoft Office for five years, in exchange for which Apple would make Internet Explorer the default web browser on all Macs. There was a little more to the whole deal than that, like Microsoft's purchase of $150 million of nonvoting Apple stock, a Patent Cross License Agreement, yadda yadda yadda, but it's the notion that Office might suddenly evaporate this summer that has some Mac users a tad nervous.

Well, it's not like we ever seriously thought that Microsoft would toss away a perfectly good revenue stream and invite further antitrust difficulties by pulling the plug come August, but if you were even a teensy bit worried about that possibility, you can exhale now; according to an article at CNET, Microsoft today announced that it plans to support the Mac platform indefinitely. "The agreement has ended [uh, shouldn't that be "will end soon"?], but our business is absolutely continuing"-- so sayeth Kevin Browne of Microsoft's Mac Business Unit. He pledged Microsoft's intent to continue developing Mac versions of Office and IE, plus maybe some other titles "if it does not take up too much of the software maker's resources and if the company can get a decent return for the efforts." (In other words, don't hold your breath for Access, folks.)

So, do you feel better now? No? What's wrong? Oh, you noticed that Microsoft hasn't historically been the most trustworthy of business partners and that the company is apparently refusing to re-commit to the Mac platform on paper. You feel that Kev's statement that Microsoft will "continue this business as long as the business case makes sense" sounds a shade ominous, and a little too much like an escape hatch being readied. Hmmm. Well, yeah, those are some valid concerns, but to set your minds at ease, would it make you feel any better if we told you that Microsoft's obligation to sell Office for the Mac actually expired about eight months ago?

No fooling! Eagle-eyed faithful viewer Erick Wong noticed that a scan of the original 1997 technology agreement is actually downloadable in PDF format from the Justice Department's web site, because it was used as evidence in the "Redmond Justice" trial. (Don't ask us how we missed that.) It's all in legalese, of course, which would normally send us into a coma, but Erick points out an interesting clause on page four which appears to give Microsoft the option to stop making and selling Mac Office if Apple hadn't sold at least three and a half million Macs in the four full quarters preceding August of last year. We did a little digging through Apple's press release library and totaled up the number of Macs it reported as sold in each of the previous four quarterly earnings reports. Guess what? We show 3,359,000 units sold.

Which means, of course, that if we're right, Microsoft could have pulled out of the deal last August-- but didn't. And as Erick shrewdly points out, that bodes sorta well for the continuation of Mac Office even once the technology agreement naturally lapses in four months' time. Now do you feel better? Good. Now please excuse us; since we just gave you a reason to believe what Microsoft said, we have to go shower for about four hours until the shame washes away.

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