Monday, June 13, 2005

Losing A Classic? The Why & How Of Keeping OS 7-9

I think Apple may be making a mistake by completely eliminating Classic -

Classic provides compatibility for newer Macs to use older applications that were written for Mac OS 7, 8, and 9.

I understand it from a support perspective, but not from a customer satisfaction perspective.

Rosetta seems to be able to do a decent job of emulation/translation for older applications that were built for OSX. That said, there may be potential lawsuit material on Apple's hands because of the way software is currently marked.

I have found some software that is marked:

Requires a Mac with a G3 processsor and OS 8.6 and higher - while I have found others that just say - Requires OS 8.6 or 9.2.2 and higher.

I'm not quite sure why Apple couldn't just port Mac On Linux over to the Mac and make it another emulation layer. Mac On Linux currently supports classic applications better than Classic on Macs - you can have any Apple OS installed that you want to. Mac OS 7 / 8 / 9 all run very well under Mac On Linux.

There are a number of children's games that have always been made for the Mac that will never be ported to OSX. These games would run acceptably under emulation - even under PearPC they run quite well.

Currently, an open source project called PearPC can emulate a G3 300 on a Pentium IV 3.2Ghz machine. This is plenty fast enough for Reader Rabbit and older 68k games and applications.

I even think Apple could go as far as to release its own software application called "Classic":

It could compile all the emulators for ALL Apple products onto a CD. Currently there are emulators available for:

The Apple II
The Newton
Mac Plus
Mac OS 6
Mac OS 7-9

I think this would be a great seller and a great marketing scheme. It would kind of be Apple's attempt at nostalgia and a thank you to all the programmers that have helped Apple stay alive through difficult (pre Jobs) times. I see a lot of value in Apple making it's own effort in house - much as The Blue Sky Rangers have done with the Intellivision Lives project.

At the very least, once the transition from PowerPC processors to Intel processors is complete; Apple should open source and offer OS 8 and OS 9 as free downloads - as they have done with OS 7.5.5

Doing so, could allow programmers to make such an emulator for classic applications, if Apple doesn't want to.

[UPDATE] I wonder if the switch (in some small way) had to do with Microsoft's purchase of Connectix's Virtual PC ... that would be an interesting angle to explore.



Anonymous said...

New users don't remember/never used/don't have classic software. Most switchers or new users of OSX do not install classic and upgraders do, but stop using after six months. I'm sympathetic. I like some of the older effects older paint progs like Monet or Pixelpaint have or the many baby steps that outliners made in the classic era, but that's the price of progress. Keep a networked OS9 machine; I believe some version of ARD works on classic, you use OSX to control. Used hardware will always be available and something will still work to the 2020-2025 era. I expect we will see an emulator at some point just because it is an interesting hack.

FYT said...

I agree -but like I said - there are some really classic applications and especially games that will never be on Mac OSX - and especially on OSX for Intel.

I think Apple could comeout with a suite similar to iLife - call it PastLife; maybe. (I'm being serious, but you can laugh)

Think about it, a nice suite of Apple product emulators. Then, think about this - include MAME with a few licensed game ROMs and sell ROMs via an iTunes Music Store distribution model. Same thing for other types of emulators - possibly even Playstation. One of the biggest mistakes I think Apple has ever made was to not negotiate more with Sony for Connectix to be able to market Virtual Game Station - exclusively for Macs.

Actually, the more I think about this, the more this looks like a business plan.

FYT said...

Also, some Mac users have never made the switch - why abandon them? I know a few people who are just now having Performas die on them - why not make the switch to new hardware easier?

Trust me, I saw the switch necessary. I do see value in loyalty to all Mac users - past present and future , though.

Anonymous said...

The people you know who still use older Macs (those that can't run OS X) are not exactly common these days. Most active Mac users have Macs that cane run OS X and most major and worthwhile apps have been ported to OS X.

Perhaps for a few users there will always be one or two "classic" apps that will never be ported to OS X, but I'm sure in time (if not already) those users will either find that those classic apps are no longer useful or find a OS X native replacement.

Personally, I've not even touched (or thought about) Classic ever since 10.1. This is the same with all my Mac using friends as well, granted that most of them were new "switchers" that abandoned their PCs and came to the Mac side sometime around 10.1 - 10.2.

Anonymous said...

Nah, I don't think so. The whole idea of a Mac is to simplify the user experience. (heaven knows that's not so true anymore), I can't think of anything more confusing to someone than to have a computer that runs things in all kinds of emulation modes. Kind of casts a negative light on the current OS, and just makes a jumble of the whole thing. If you want nostalgia, run it on nostalgic, authentic hardware. The 'Classic' kludge was bad enough. For the Mac to have a future, it has to be the clear and understandable appliance computer with a consistant OS and interface. This means no Windows emulation on it either. I can't see a quicker way to push the Mac into obscurity than to have it run Windows natively. The option for programmers would naturally be to write for one OS. Guess which one that would be. What a slippery slope to start down.

Anonymous said...

JackWhispers: "Then, think about this - include MAME with a few licensed game ROMs and sell ROMs via an iTunes Music Store distribution model."

Well there is one big Video-Game company that intend to integrate something like this in their next generation console...

Before the intel switch, I had this theory about Nintendo teaming up with Apple for their next console, the Revolution, due in 2006. (yeah I'm one of those lunatics) The iTunes music store front-end and back-end is exactly what Nintendo needs for its NES SNES N64 virtual game store.

Jack Campbell said...

Philip, that is an absolutely great idea... and one I would have never considered. I would instantly pay $99 for that CD, just to know I had it in a drawer. And, I am sure Apple could bundle in whatever ROM emulation was needed to support all of the prior operating systems.

Very clever. Very cool!

Anonymous said...

The only question I have is why? Again, I'm not sure why? OS 9 (Classic) is four years dead. Why support an out of date OS from yesteryear? I have switched all of my software to OS X and I would never want to use OS 9 for much of anything. And don't forget new users who never even touched OS 9 or previous systems. You talked about software that's system requirements shows OS 8.5+ etc. And they don't have an OS X version? If there is a company still ONLY making Classic software and it is likely not very important software. And if it is, it'll go the way of Quark... a company who didn't update theiur software for OS X and soon started losing (hemoraging) their customers to InDesign. As for kids games... buy your kids something new and better. In short, there is no need for classic support.

FYT said...

ok, not to be rude but you are thinking very narrowly ...

there are hundreds if not thousands of applications that do not have OSX counterparts - sone that come to mind is a math program called Swamp Gas and a great game called Solarian that was voiced by Robin Williams. I also remember a very cool game that featured Dennis Miller.

My question to you is WHY NOT? Intellivision Lives seems to care about it's old base. Intellivision games suck compared to today's graphical wonders. It'd also be nice to have - JUST in case for some critical apps like MacDraw - what if you needed an old architectural design created in the propreitary format - there are NO translators for it - once OS9 is completely killed off as you would have it.

Jack Campbell said...

Okay... here's my example. I have the original (floppy disk) version of Leisure Suit Larry (In The Land Of The Lounge Lizards) game. It was put out sometime in the mid-80s'... around the time of maybe Mac OS 3, 4 or 5 or somesuch. There is no following Mac version. And, frankly it's one of those classic role playing games where the essence seems to have been lost in following releases. I like the original version. But, I have not been able to play it in years, as it broke somewhere around Syetem 7 or 8.

There are a LOT of these archaic, yet still interesting/useful games and applications that a LOT of us old time Mac users have stuck away in drawers or shoe boxes that we would like to be able to run on our new hardware.

Betcha Apple would sell a 100,000+ or more of those disks with all of the old OS versions a year.

Anonymous said...

The "user experience" should be all about choice. Why shouldn't someone be able to use one computer to run all of their applications that they have grown to love over the years? If it is possible? This proposal would make it so. Hard drives are huge and cheap these days, as is memory. What JW is proposing is very possible and I think many people would flock to it.

I am guessing that the posters that are touting the OS X-only line are young and have not experienced many of the older OS's and programs that were great and for whatever reason will never be ported over. Additionally, being able to use older operating systems seamlessly would give the Mac a library of available programs that is simply huge, thus making the Mac a very attractive platform.

Who is saying that they don't want a Mac to run Windows or Windows programs? Stop living in a dreamworld. Like it or not, Windows programs are very popular and run many businesses. It would be a HUGE advantage for the Mac to be able to run Windows/Windows programs natively. Huge.

Some of most elegant and clever programs I have ever seen are older programs and they are a lot of fun to use. I was watching an old Hypercard presentation the other day and it totally blew me away.

Analyse and cut it up any way you want it, this is a stellar idea and well worth developing and adopting. This may be the best idea that I have seen advanced in this forum.

Anonymous said...

Forget games. I bought CD's that features "Art through the ages", the "Virtual Louvre", "Botanica", etc all of which are encyclopaedic, none of which content goes out of date, and none of which have upgrade paths.

People make "long-term" investment in software, and computer manufacturers dropping support for them will just reduce the probability that people will buy software in the future.

In Russet Shadows said...

I too agree. Apple could make a killing by honoring their past in such a way. Retroputing isn't huge, but it is a vibrant community, and fewer things are kewler. :)