Mac Happens

Mac OS 8.6: Not All It's Cracked Up To Be

5 October 1999 - Evan Kleiman

An old saying goes, "If it's free, it probably is too good to be true." After a few months of using Apple's new, free upgrade to their operating system, OS 8.6, I believe that this saying is holding true.

You will remember not to long back I wrote an article entitled OS 8.6 Makes iMac More Stable (5/18/99). This whole article sings praise for this new "miracle" OS. I wrote this article a few days after installing OS 8.6. In three or four days, you will not usually run most of your programs. But, give it about a month, and you've probably used every program on your hard drive.

If you were in the same situation as me, you would have noticed something. A lot of programs cease to function under this new operating system. Coming from a person who owns '030 and '040 Macs, I have lots of older programs to keep compatibile. They've stopped working.

Whenever you upgrade your system, you can expect some old programs to go south. But at the same time as the installation, I also installed Virtual PC, a program which I had just purchased. It didn't work.

So I went to Connectix's (VPC's maker) website, did a little hunting, and discovered an update to make Virtual PC actually work under 8.6. But even with the update it still didn't work right.

Now, you will say that even though there are many bugs, I was not focusing on the many improvements. Even if there are improvements, many of these improvements aren't very large, and not a lot of the larger ones really do anything for most home iMac users.

Even though it will cost you a good US$90 or more and some time, it would it's worth it to wait for Mac OS 9.0 if you want to upgrade. This will improve many things, and won't dis-improve (is that a word?) anything.

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I've had mixed results with Mac OS 8.6. It's running very nicely on my SuperMac J700 with Newer G3/250 card and my son's SuperMac S900, but is absolutely troublesome on my Blue G3/300 at work. Again, our servers, PowerBook G3/333s, and G4/400s are perfectly content under 8.6. It's one of the inexplicable mysteries.

Mac OS 9 may be available this week. How many applications it will break remains to be seen, but it should offer a lot of reasons to invest in the upgrade. Stay tuned to the Mac web for all the details. dk

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