Beyond the Barline
Ready or Not!
In my January column, I made a resolution that, honestly, I had no real intention of keeping. I said, in print mind you, that I would make the switch to OS X by the end of the year. I knew that the chance of my most critical applications (all music and audio software) being compatible by then was almost as remote as my chances of having the money necessary to buy a new computer and upgrade all my software. Still I was hopeful. Little did I know at the time that Steve Jobs had made the same resolution in respect to Apple, and that, unlike me, he had every intention of keeping his word.
So ready or not, come January, all new Apple computers will no longer boot into OS 9. The news has been out for a couple of months now, and, after a couple of months hoping against all previous evidence that his Steveness might change his mind based on our opinions, the time has come to accept the inevitable.
In the Reality Distortion Field
Everyone must be ready by now to upgrade to X. The operating system’s been out for almost two years, and that should be plenty of time for developers to make the switch. Obviously, some people aren’t ready to let go. They’ve become too attached to an old familiar friend, and the time has come to move on. In January, when Apple announced that OS 9 was “dead,” everyone entered Stage One of the grieving process, denial. “OS 9 isn’t dead, it’s still a viable OS, and I need it!” In September, came Stage Two, anger. “How dare they! If I want to boot my new computer into OS 9, I should be able to. After all it’s my computer!” Now we’re in Stage Three: bargaining. “Please let me boot into 9 a little longer. After all I’ve supported you all these years.” By January, we’ll reach Stage Four, depression. “I need a new computer, but I need OS 9, too. What’s the point. I might as well stay in bed.” Then, finally, Stage Five, acceptance. “I love OS X. I don’t know how I ever lived without it!” Steve, meet Dr. Phil. Dr. Phil, Steve.
Meanwhile, in the Real World
OS X is really only a few months old. Everybody willing to admit the truth will tell you that the original OS 10.0 was a beta, and 10.1 wasn’t much better. Jaguar, a.k.a. OS 10.2, is the real OS X. So developers have had their progress in upgrading limited to some extent. As the OS has progressed, the number of compatible applications and hardware drivers has increased exponentially. We are very close to the day when the Classic Mac OS becomes nothing more than a fond memory, but we’re not there quite yet. If I were Steve Jobs (and I’m glad I’m not), I would do exactly what he did, but I would delay it about six months, so that developers had a full year with Jaguar. At that point, it is certainly reasonable to say “___, or get off the pot.”
But, Again, I’m Not Steve
And, trust me, even if he read this column, it wouldn’t change his mind. So we have to deal with reality. Come January, all Macs will be OS X-only (or other kinds of Unix). Classic will still work, but anything not Classic-compatible won’t. So my advice is this: if you have a computer that works fine for you, keep using it. When 2002 becomes 2003, it will still run OS 9 as well as ever. After all, even Steve doesn’t have that kind of power (yet). If you’re ready to upgrade hardware, but not ready to give up 9, buy now.
I may do both. My G3 works just fine (640 MB of RAM doesn’t hurt), and it will remain my “music computer” for the foreseeable future, but I also was contemplating buying an iBook by June. With an impending move (to who knows where) coming this summer, I desired the one thing my G3 lacked, portability. In addition, I figured I could make the upgrade to X in two steps: First, I would run X, along with my non-music applications, on the iBook for about six months to a year. By then, I would have the money, and the software would be available, to buy a new dual-processor desktop. Now I may need to move up the iBook purchase, though I can’t really afford it. I’ll decide by next month.
Well I’m not really ready, and neither are a lot of users. But many software companies are. I’ve mentioned Bias (Peak and Deck), Bitheadz (Unity Session), and PropellerHead (Reason) in earlier columns. In addition, Steinberg’s Cuebase SX and Emagic’s Logic 5.4 have been released in the last month. Emagic has also released a developer kit for porting VST plug-ins to OS X-compatible Audio Units, and is partnering with Digidesign to ensure compatibility between Logic and the upcoming Pro Tools 6 for OS X. Coda’s Finale 2003 is Classic-compatible. Native Instruments has released Traktor DJ Studio 2.0, and will hopefully follow up with OS X versions of Reaktor, Absynth, and their specialized software instruments (FM7, Pro-52, Kontakt, etc.). I’m sure there’s other OS X music and audio software out that I’ve forgotten. Maybe that’s a good sign. I’d rather have too much than not enough.
MOTU’s DP 3 (announced in July) is still pending. So are U&I’s unique software package (Artmatic and VTrack are first up this fall, I’m hoping on Metasynth soon after), and, most significantly for me, Cycling 74’s Max/MSP. That one, I must admit, has always been a deal-breaker. Back in the mid-nineties, when Apple looked shaky, my overriding reason for sticking with Macs was Max. Now it’s my overriding reason for sticking with OS 9. When Max/MSP makes the jump, I will have no more reasons to hold off upgrading to OS X. I hope that day comes soon.
Also in This Series
- Ready or Not! · November 2002
- The Other Petition · August 2002
- The Samples Have Been Changed to Protect the Innocent · May 2002
- Record Execs Ate My Hard Drive! · April 2002
- And the Award Goes to… · March 2002
- Expos, From a Distance · February 2002
- My Resolution · January 2002
- Too Much Hype · November 2001
- And They’re Off! · September 2001
- Complete Archive