I Want to Switch But…

2002 – For years the Mac faithful heard promises about Apple’s next generation operating system. Copland or Rhapsody (or whatever it was being called at the time) would be fully buzzword compliant, would run on any Power Mac ever made, and have us chomping at the bit to upgrade.


OS X History

Then came Mac OS X Public Beta. It was a preview, it gave us a bit of a feel for OS X, and it helped Apple see a lot of things that needed to be addressed before the first release.

Then came the full release. Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah addressed many of the problems seen in the beta, but it seemed more like a second beta than a finished product. Users came up with new issues Apple had to deal with, many of which were addresses in 10.1 Puma.

It was 10.1 that convinced me it was finally time to put OS X on my 400 MHz TiBook. The only real problem I had was making enough room on my 2 GB OS X partition for all the new applications and system updates. I eventually discovered Carbon Copy Cloner, which allowed me to move OS X to my main 8 GB partition.

Now Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar is available, and the reviews are the same mixed bag. As with 10.0 and 10.1, the latest version of OS X is better than the earlier ones. It’s faster. It has some new features. It supports more devices. And the consensus is that it’s worth the time (60-90 minutes for installation) and money (as low as $100 if you shop around) for current OS X users to make the upgrade.

But what about OS 9 users?

One User’s Experience

The more I use OS X, the more I like it. I prefer the Dock to having one program for launching applications and another for switching between them. I love the fact that no matter how many times the Java applets used by Yahoo Games for Euchre crash Internet Explorer or iCab, OS X doesn’t mind a bit.

I have almost all the current OS X-browsers installed: IE 5.2, iCab 2.8.1, Chimera Navigator 0.5, Mozilla 1.1b, OmniWeb 4.1 v422, and Opera 5.0b5.465. No Netscape, and I rarely launch Opera, which I consider the ugliest browser ever ported to the Mac OS, but at least I can check site design and see which browsers support Euchre on Yahoo Games.

I like some of the new OS X-only apps, such as NetNewsWire Lite and Fire. NetNewsWire Lite lets me check RSS feeds from several sites, and Fire lets me handle both AOL and Yahoo Messenger sessions at the same time and in a single client.

I like iTunes 3, and for the first time ever I’ve begun ripping portions of my CD collection to my computer’s hard drive.

I like the fact that AppleWorks already runs in OS X and that PowerMail 3.x can use the same email files in both OS 9 and X, although it will never become my primary email client. (I’m still using Claris Emailer. I plan on switching to Apple’s Mail software when I upgrade to Jaguar, but not until then.)

And I like the fact that MYOB Account Edge also works with the same files in both operating systems.

I have GraphicConverter and BBEdit Lite in X-native versions, although I don’t use either application very often in OS X. And I recently moved from an ancient, expired copy of Anarchie to Interarchy 5, which works in both the classic and the modern Mac OS.

But Emailer, Home Page, Photoshop, Mizer, and BBEdit Lite 4.6 are classic-only applications that I depend on. CopyAgent is a classic-only utility I find crucial to my work – along with QuicKeys and Default Folder.

All of these applications are second nature after years of use. I’m simply more productive in OS 9 than I can be using Classic Mode in OS X. I don’t see that changing soon.

What I Need

Apple’s Mail program may well replace Claris Emailer, and once I switch to an OS X-only email client, the die is cast. I won’t be able to access Mail if I boot from OS 9, so I’m in no hurry there.

Photoshop and BBEdit exist in OS X-native versions, but they cost money. For now, I’ll stick to running Photoshop 5.5 and BBEdit Lite 4.6 in classic. (More recent versions of BBEdit Lite don’t support a feature I find crucial, so I would have to ante up for the full version to use BBEdit productively in OS X.)

There are synchronization utilities for OS X that could probably replace CopyAgent, and both QuicKeys and Default Folder are available in OS X versions. But the price of upgrading is growing – Jaguar plus a sync utility plus Default Folder at a minimum. (QuicKeys I may learn to do without.)

And then there’s still the issue of Claris Home Page. There are some very powerful, very high-end, very bloated HTML design programs for the Mac that lack the speed, ease of use, and simplicity of old reliable Home Page. And there are a lot of HTML-oriented text editors that lack the WYSIWYG convenience of Home Page and insist that you actually code your Web pages.

Nothing I’ve found comes close to the convenience of Home Page. I can run it in the classic environment, and it works very nicely, but if there’s any single program that keeps me from going fully OS X, it’s Home Page. Because of it, I need the classic Mac OS, which also means no real reason to switch email programs, Photoshop versions, etc.

In the long term, I really do hope to switch to Mac OS X full time. A nice freeware or low cost shareware alternative to CopyAgent would let me take a giant step in that direction.

Why such a stress on CopyAgent? Because intelligent copying really should be part of the Mac OS – but it never has been. I’ve used CopyDoubler, Speed Copy, and CopyAgent over the years because they give the Mac smart copying. That means they only copy files that have changed from one location to another. They don’t waste time overwriting existing files. The OS should have the intelligence to do that.

I have two small partitions on my hard drive, one for all of my site work and another just for backing up my site work. With CopyAgent, I can drag the lowendmac.com folder to backup each day and have it create a duplicate copy on the backup partition. Or if I really mess up a file, I can have CopyAgent sync the two folders, which means making sure that any file in one is duplicated in the other. Just trash the messed up file, sync, and get back to work.

Yes, I could FTP files from the lowendmac.com server or recover them from backup (Retrospect, another program I’d have to upgrade if I stopped booting into OS 9), but neither is nearly as quick, easy, or efficient as using CopyAgent to sync my primary and backup copies of the site.

Getting There

I will eventually get Jaguar, I will eventually make OS X my default boot operating system, and I hope to eventually be able to replace all of my classic apps and utilities and games so that I never have to run the classic environment again. I don’t expect that to happen any time soon, though.

That said, Apple is giving us good reasons to migrate. iTunes 3 is much nicer than 2, providing a small incentive to move to OS X. The new Sherlock looks promising, and things like iCal, iChat, the new Address Book, the new anti-spam version of Mail, and the synchronization between them may well be compelling reasons to move to the more modern OS. (Odd, isn’t it, that Unix predates the Mac OS by well over a decade, yet we consider it the modern alternative to the old Mac OS.)

The Other Side of Switch

At present, Mac OS X represents 2.5-3 million Mac users, out of a community of around 25-30 million Mac users. Apple hopes to grow the installed OS X base to 5 million by the end of the year.

One way to do this is to sell more Macs, but the economy is tight and users (both Mac and Windows) are postponing replacing older hardware, making it harder to grow the OS X base that way. Still, new Mac sales alone should add around 1.5 million users to the installed OS X base by year end.

Apple’s greatest potential for growing the OS X base is Mac users with G3 and G4 computers. Almost every Mac made from mid-1998 to the present is capable of running Mac OS X if it has a sufficiently large hard drive (4 GB is a practical minimum) and enough RAM (at least 192 MB if you can afford it). It may be sluggish on sub-300 MHz models, but it will run.

This market represents maybe 10 million iMacs, Power Macs, iBooks, and PowerBooks that could potentially be running Jaguar. We’re still using OS 8 or 9, and we haven’t found a compelling reason to make OS X our primary operating system.

We need to be convinced to switch. We are Apple’s core market, and we should be a primary target of their ad campaigns.

Nine to Ten

Apple needs to help Mac users – especially those millions who never visit a Mac website – understand why OS X is for them. Target ads at people with Beige G3s and WallStreet PowerBooks and tray-loading iMacs. Let them know how they will benefit from Jaguar. Let them know how to best prepare their Macs for the new OS. Work with local dealers and online vendors to offer upgrade packages: Jaguar plus RAM plus a faster, higher capacity hard drive.

Or maybe some online retailer or a national chain will see the potential of packaging an upgrade solution. For instance, what if you could bring your Beige or Blue & White G3 to your local CompUSA, pay maybe $500, and get it back the next day with a big fast hard drive, a lot more memory, a USB/FireWire card, a PCI Radeon video card, Mac OS 9.2.2 and Jaguar, your old hard drive in an external FireWire or USB enclosure, and all of your old files and programs on the new hard drive just where you expect them to be?

Dealers need to make it easy for those of us with older hardware to make the switch, providing the infrastructure that could make a switch campaign aimed at classic Mac OS users effective. “Talk to your local Apple dealer to see if your Mac can run OS X.”

At the same time, Apple has to fill the holes in the software lineup. In my book, that includes a sync utility that’s as transparent as CopyAgent. With that and the improved OS X performance Jaguar supposedly offers, I’d be that much closer to leaving my TiBook in OS X all the time and relying on the classic environment for programs like Home Page, Photoshop 5.5, and the few others that don’t have OS X-native equivalents or where I simply can’t justify the expense of an upgrade.

And we’ll do our part to help the Mac faithful know when and how they can make the jump to the insanely great modern OS Apple has promised for years and is finally delivering.

Keywords: #macosx #osxjaguar

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