The Mobile Mac OS 9

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Date: Monday, February 1st, 1999, 00:00
Category: Archive

In what we expect to be an ongoing feature, the Mobile Mac OS 9 will focus on issues that mobile technologists will face when migrating to Apple’s forthcoming upgrade to the Macintosh Operating System. Mac OS 9 was previously referred to as Mac OS 8.7 and is code-named Sonata. The PowerPage labs has been testing Mac OS 9.0b5c3 on several PowerBooks including a Lombard/400 with 384MB of RAM and a 10GB hard drive. It should be noted that Mac OS 9 is still beta software, it has not been released to the public and bugs that we discover should be addressed by the time that it is released.

In addition to the groovy Mac OS 9 startup screen, several cool new desktop pictures spiff up the UI significantly. Our current favorites are Lime Horizon, Blueberry Union and Grape Mission. What’s more interesting is the way Mac OS 9 displays dialog boxes as a mini “sticky notes” in front of other running applications. Previously, if you were checking email in Eudora but you had Communicator in the foreground, for example, Eudora would flash its icon in the application menu to tell you that it needed your attention. Mac OS 9 simply posts a sticky in front of every running app. The feature seemed a little annoying at first but is ultimately a better solution.

you have new mail

Another killer feature of the new OS is its ability to update itself when new versions come out (a la QuickTime 4.0). The feature seems a little Orweillian, as we prefer not to expose our Quicken2K data file to any prying eyes, but less paranoid readers may find it valuable. Also of interest was OS 9’s ability to look for software updates on the Web. When we plugged in a Newer uFlash-SM Smart Media reader into the USB port, we were presented with a polite dialog box asking if we would like the OS to look for the appropriate drivers.

master, would you like me to search?

Multiple users and voice passwords are compelling features for this major update to the OS and both have been covered extensively on MOSR (scroll down to news items on 03, 04 and 06 August). Suffice it to say that when we tested the voice login feature on a Lombard/400 we were pleasantly surprised. Reboot, pick your name (and icon) from the login screen, and speak “My name is my password.” Voila! You are in.

Some pesky speed issues are present in beta 5, including excruciating delays logging in and out of multiple user accounts and long pauses when we thought that it had crashed, but we expect that they are merely a function of unoptimized code. Most applications we tested were compatible: Eudora Pro, BBEdit, Explorer, Communicator and (surprisingly) Now Contact and Up-To-Date 3.6.5 – which haven’t been updated since 1997.

The biggest issue we had with OS 9 beta 5 was insomnia, or more accurately the inability to wake from sleep. We were unsuccessful in waking our Lombard/400 from sleep more than once in over 50 attempts across multiple extension sets including ‘Mac OS 9 All.’

Are you using OS 9 on a PowerBook? What have you found?

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