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OS X: If You Build it, They Will Come

By John Virata
April 2, 2001

It has been a week and a few days since Apple Computer released Mac OS X, the company's replacement for its operating system that has essentially gone unchanged (sans the tweaks from System 6x to System 7x) since 1984. News groups on the Internet, and the creative and mainstream media have taken cursory looks at the Unix-based operating system and have come away with mixed results. On the one hand, most users of OS X seem to like the new interface, as well as the fact that the OS is based on Unix, an industrial strength operating system that has been around for decades, and also is the backbone OS for which the Internet is based. Others seem to bash Apple for not having CD-RW and DVD support built into the initial release. While it is true that CD-RW is the de facto standard for storing and transferring digital media via computers, and is immensely popular for compiling your favorite music, digital images, and even video, DVD on the other hand is not really a feature that everyone uses, and Apple choosing not to support it with the initial release isn't really that big of a deal. And besides, if you want to "burn one" or watch a DVD movie, just boot into Classic, OS X's way of ensuring compatibility with exisiting Mac OS applications.

What many in the digital media industry decry (and of which is more concern) is the current lack of creative applications that are still unavailable for the new OS. Users in various news groups are screaming "Why hasn't Adobe Systems released its apps for OS X? and "Why isn't Apple's own Final Cut Pro available for OS X?" And the list goes on and on. Users need to just relax and take a line from Kevin Costner's Field of Dreams "If you Build it, They will Come."

Adobe will ship its products for OS X, it says so on the Adobe website. Apple will ship an OS X version of Final Cut Pro. Other purveyors of creative applications will also come around and ship their creative apps for OS X. After all, isn't the Mac the platform of choice for digital creativity? Remember, Adobe builds its software on its own timetable, and not on some other company's OS timetable. If Adobe had followed Apple's timeline for OS X, Adobe software engineers would have needlessly written and rewritten software code. And being the second largest desktop software provider in the world, Adobe made the prudent and correct decision to wait until OS X engineers iron out the kinks in what is still essentially a beta release. Imagine if Adobe built a "burn to DVD" feature into Premiere and shipped an OS X version of Premiere with that feature at the same time Apple shipped OS X. Well, those who would have bought Premiere for OS X solely for that feature would initially be out of luck. And who would they blame?

According to Apple, OS X will have CD-RW support in an update (call it a service pack) release this month. DVD support is expected in another service pack sometime this summer. I imagine that all the other application providers in the creative space who have a loyal and large following, are also readying their apps to be launched for OS X. As for me and my beloved Dual G4, I am taking Adobe's wait and see approach, and when the apps become available and the OS is stable and has all the features I want, I'll install the OS and go to the Mac Store and get some apps. Designed For OS X of course.

John B. Virata is senior producer of DigitalProducer.com and MediaWorkstation.com. He really enjoys his dual G4 and will enjoy it more when it crashes less.

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John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at jvirata@digitalmedianet.com
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