Woz Has Words For 'Jaguar' Switch

Apple's co-founder says abandoning OS 9 was necessary for the company but not necessarily for the rest of us.

SAN FRANCISCO -- After a brief appearance at Macworld Expo and Conference in 1997, Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak returned with a few choice words about the company's direction.

During a panel session, The Move to Mac OS X, "Woz" and other experts debated the big question facing Mac enthusiasts: "Should I switch yet to the Macintosh OS X v10.2 platform?"

"I think we're being very hypocritical by forcing people to migrate," Wozniak said. "Mac 9 is good. Mac 10 is also good."

Hours earlier, CEO Steve Jobs said Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple will stand firm on OS X, saying the platform (also known as "Jaguar") will be pre-installed in all new Apple hardware. During his morning keynote, Jobs confirmed all new Apples would only boot from the Jaguar OS. Since its debut, OS X has gained some 5 million active users. Jobs said he was confident that number would increase somewhere between 9 and 10 million active OS X users by the end of next year.

Wozniak said Apple as a company had to "eventually make the decision" to drop the older operating platform, but the departure would be no less frustrating to system administrators who are either cash-strapped or too reluctant to make updates. Wozniak said the situation is especially difficult in schools.

"It's a huge quandary. A lot of schools are trapped into older equipment," Wozniak said. "We used to be in a similar position when companies said 'no Macs' and schools that told us 'we're pulling out all of our Macs. And our position was, 'why would you do that when you have a tool that does the job?'"

Besides some of the "classic" features being missed, the panel's consensus was that Apple needed to step up testing of software - both theirs and third-party applications - before releasing them.

"There was a point in time that the Macintosh crashed even more than Windows but we didn't tell people to switch to Windows -- so I don't think crashing issues are that much of an issue with OS X," Wozniak said.

The panel also agreed that Apple's decision to base its operating system on UNIX was wise.

"UNIX is great because it opens it up to schools and universities so they can use a Macintosh as their UNIX box with a bunch of great applications thrown in," Wozniak said. "I use it for a few tasks and I'm glad it's there."

When asked if he keeps in contact with Jobs, Wozniak said he hadn't sat down with his old partner as much as he would like to because he didn't "want to bug him."

Wozniak left Apple in 1985 and started a commercial venture last January called Wheels of Zeus, or WOZ, a play on his nickname. The startup is developing global positioning systems for consumers.






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