TV-PGMay 16, 2000: Phil "I Had To Go And Open My Big Fat Mouth" Schiller confirms our worst fears: the Apple PDA is nonexistent. Meanwhile, Apple demonstrates a dual-processor G4 that's literally twice as fast as a single-chip model, but cautions that it may not ship for another year, and an online look at Mac OS X DP4 reveals that the Desktop is back in a big way...
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From the writer/creator of AtAT, a Pandemic Dad Joke taken WAYYYYYY too far


 
Time To Buy A Palm (5/16/00)
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This is the way the rumor ends: not with a bang but a whimper. Or is it a whine? We've all been waiting for an Apple handheld ever since the Newton got Steved over two years ago. At the time, our fearless leader stated unequivocally that Apple would return to the handheld market in 1999; the closest thing we got was a six-and-a-half-pound laptop with a handle. So we continued to wait, as rumors of an Apple-Palm hybrid germinated, mutated, and resurfaced umpteen times in a fascinating array of different incarnations. We kept hope alive on a thin diet of hints and clues. And then Phil Schiller had to go and blow the whole thing by opening his big yap.

As faithful viewer Kevin Seconds noted, the San Jose Mercury News killed the dream when it published Phil's comments about how the Apple handheld rumors are "totally unfounded." Said he, "We are focused on the personal computer space, not the handheld space, and that's that. I hate to use these words, but there's nothing going on." In making this statement, Phil broke the corporate edict never to comment on rumors or unannounced products; suppose Steve's going to have to break out the Discipline Stick? Poor Phil. Everyone knows that his whole raison d'être at Apple is to be "Steve Lite." As such, he's probably learned to hate rumors just as much as the Big Kahuna himself-- but Steve knows better than to flap his gums about what Mac fans whisper around the water cooler. Okay, so Phil was frustrated; by whining in public, though, he may well have damaged the company's standing among those who were counting on a Newton replacement-- not to mention those analysts that were fully expecting Apple's future growth to rely heavily on the "appliance" market. We'll have to wait and see.

We'd be remiss if we didn't note that, in his role as "Steve Lite," we wonder whether Phil is really given full run of Apple's secret plans. Given all those reports of Apple-Palm development, can we really trust Phil when he says there's "nothing going on"? That's up to you to decide. Personally, we can imagine that Phil isn't in possession of all the facts. If that seems overly paranoid to you, you may recall that Intuit's Bill Campbell, a member of Apple's board of directors, didn't know anything about the iMac's existence until a month before the unveiling-- and that was only because Steve was forced to let him in on the secret in order to get him to reverse the decision to cancel Quicken for the Mac. Granted, Phil's hopefully closer to the real action than Campbell is, but Steve is one secretive little iCEO; it's not completely impossible that "Steve Lite" just hasn't been let in on any of the really big secrets. Should you have a burning desire to keep this rumor alive, that's your loophole. As for us, we suppose it's time to choose between a Palm VII and a Palm V with the OmniSky wireless modem.

It's always sad when a long-lived rumor bites the big one. The next thing you know, Schiller will publicly state that Disney isn't in negotiations to buy Apple. The big meanie.


 
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Just Ship It Already (5/16/00)
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So the rumors about multiprocessor G4s were wrong, wrong, wrong. Okay, sure, Apple did in fact demonstrate a dual G4 at WWDC, but that wasn't a rumor-- that was a scheduled event, posted on Apple's own WWDC agenda, so don't start thinking that the rumormongers were thrown a frickin' bone. The fact of the matter is, as far as Apple's concerned, multiprocessor G4 systems don't exist as an actual Mac product yet, and that's that. But when they do arrive, oh mama, they are going to scream.

Think of it this way: you already know that a 500 MHz G4 is blisteringly fast, even running Mac OS 9. You also know that the very same G4/500 is going to be even faster under Mac OS X's modern architecture. Now consider what happens when you toss a second G4/500 on that motherboard, given Mac OS X's support for guts-level symmetric multiprocessing. Given what tiny bit of knowledge we absorbed while sleeping through various computer classes, we'd be inclined to think that adding a second processor would yield a speed boost rather less than 2x, but apparently we'd be terribly wrong. According to a reader report at Mac OS Rumors, Apple's hardware demo showed a dual G4 yielding fully twice the performance of the same system with only one processor enabled. And, of course, Mac OS X isn't even done yet.

The only real problem we see here is that Apple is seriously downplaying the MPG4's release date. Remember back when we all heard that we'd see dual-processor Macs at last January's Macworld Expo? Well, don't laugh (or cry) too hard when you hear Apple's latest hint about the system's release: according to MacNN, "it was stressed that it would not be happening any time soon but that they would definitely be out by next year's WWDC." Now, before you yank your hair out and run screaming through the streets, that's just an upper bound. We could just as truthfully say that Mac OS X will definitely ship before 2006. (We hope.) But hearing that it may be a full year before these things will be allowed to compete in the marketplace bums us out just a little. Remember, multiprocessor systems are pretty much Apple's only possible weapon in the Megahertz Wars, but it's sounding like we should resign ourselves to seeing Apple get its butt stomped in that battle for the foreseeable future. Our guess? An MPG4 will ship when Mac OS 9 gets an updated MP-aware kernel-- and if that doesn't happen, we'll be waiting until Mac OS X is officially released.


 
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The Desktop Lives! (5/16/00)
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Ah, the nondisclosure agreement-- Silicon Valley's biggest inside joke. And thank heaven for the churning multitudes who are willing to toss their NDAs out the virtual window, because otherwise we'd have considerably less information on Mac OS X as a work in progress. Don't get us wrong; the stuff at Apple's site is nice and all, but what we really need is an evaluation of the system by users who aren't behind the Cupertino Curtain and on Uncle Steve's payroll.

And so, we were thrilled to be told of Holy Mac!'s "in-Depth Look" at the latest developer preview release of Apple's upcoming operating system. Written by "Anonymous Contributor" (bless his NDA-violating little heart), this precious piece is a down-and-dirty look at DP4 through the eyes of a bona fide Mac user, instead of more sanitized fluff from Apple's Marketing department. If you've been getting the idea that Mac OS X in its current pre-release form is a slick, polished, almost-ready-for-prime-time piece of work, then Holy Mac!'s report may shock you. It's full of the important stuff Apple doesn't tell you about: onscreen graphic glitches, miserably slow performance in some situations, unfinished integration with Classic applications, Classic incompatibilities and crashes-- all the dirt you'd expect in an unfinished operating system. There are also plenty of screenshots to satiate your Aqua appetites while you wait out the next three or four months until the public beta.

Of course, it's terribly important for you to retain an internal distinction between DP4 and Mac OS X. Don't judge the latter by the former-- rather, you should use the former to sense the direction of the latter. For instance, you've heard that in DP4 Apple has made Aqua more Mac-like; well, Holy Mac!'s report confirmed the single biggest hope we had about this trend towards Macification: the Desktop is back. "There is now a true Desktop. Files that you drag to the Desktop are not aliases, but are actual files on the Desktop." Woo-hoo! Great news for us in the "you'll take our Desktop when you pry it from our cold, dead fingers" crowd. And there's even an option to have removable disks show up automatically on the Desktop, instead of only in the "Computer" directory. Fixed hard disks still won't show up on the Desktop, but hey, this is a definite step in the right direction...


 
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