Multimedia Review

Class: BA297D - Prof. Howard Besser - Fall 96

Subject: Apple OS 8 CD ROM

Sandra Doi - 10/96


I have to admit, I am almost a complete neophyte to the CD ROM medium. So I work at a Silicon Valley company and am billing myself as a high-tech woman in my interviews -- this makes my confession even more embarrassing. In fact, I have had a near phobia of the medium for no apparent reason. I have never owned a computer with a built-in drive, and the external that I have at work is a hand-me down that I could not make work after an hour and a half. I have only used two CD ROMS in my life -- the Haas B-School Tour which is all set up and ready to go in S440, and a Star Wars fighter pilot game. So....here we go! Confront your deepest, darkest secrets!


My pick - Mac OS 8 Promo CD

This CD was mailed to me at work. I can't remember if I ordered it or not, but it's a bit of propaganda to educate the market about Mac OS 8. Given all the OS controversy at Apple these days, it is sort of interesting to see what the CD has to say. This was stamped in May 1996. Since then, many things have happened. Rumoars are confirmed that Copeland, the new operating system is "dead" and that incremental upgrades of the current operating system is the course that management has chosen. Most recently, rumors are flying about Be, the company owned by a former Apple bigwig, which is developing a completely new operating system. Will Apple buy them? Will their operating system replace the current one? Needless to say, the development community is in a uproar.

Given this hindsight, it will be interesting to see this OS 8 CD, and what type of message they present.


Getting Started

The first folder has four icons - one that starts the tour, the Read me, the Quicktime, and the icon that says "Welcome - Read me First". I never read these things, but for the benefit of this review, that's where we will start. The Mac OS logo appears, and therer is an explanation of what this CD is about. "This presentation is designed to introduce you to the next generation of Apple's operating system - OS 8 - and give you an opportunity to better understand Apple's direction for future operating systmen releases." This is most ironic given that we know now that they have abandoned Copeland, and that the direction for future operating systems is the center of a huge controversy now.

Anyway, this gives you the lowdown on system requirements, how to start, how to navigate, the tour contents, etc.

I am quickly bored by this, and quit.


The Tour - Nuts and Bolts of What is There

I click on Mac OS 8 and the jazzy, upbeat music starts. A woman's voice tells you that you are about to explore exciting new properties of OS 8, as familiar Apple icons roll across the screen, including the famous ad that launched Apple in the 80s, a Mac SE, screen shots, even a picture of the Apple R&D foyer. You are then deposited at a screen that says in brightly colored letters, Power Beyond Speed, Tools to Simplify a Complex World, the Freedom to create. The bottom 1/5 of the screen are two buttons and a simple menu. One button is the Mac OS face logo to start the tour, thother is a Glossary button, a the menu is a simplified menu that allows you to Page Setup, Print and Quit. I like the simplicity of the layout.

The next screen Gives you five paths that show how OS 8 is superior to Win95:

The buttons on the bottom are now Previous, Menu, and Glossary. I choose "Ease of Use". Nothing happens except for a pop up test screen. I try the next, and the next. Same story. I am confused. It seems the only thing I can do from this path is return to the Main. It takes a lab consultant to show me that the brightly colored letter of the Main screen are the interactive tour. I am embarrassed. However, this seems a poor design, in my opinion. I was convinced that the CD was flawed. That dilemma solved, I returned to the tour part.

I choose the option "Power" which gives me two choices, and under each choice are demos or more information. Mac OS 8 and multitasking gives a desktop image of a user copying several files while simultaneously opening an application. This is an impossible operation under the current OS, and opening an application at the same time is a sure-fire crash, so I think this is a pretty neat thing.

Under "Tools to Simplify", four choices are given for four different demos showing new an improved filing abilities and desktop navigation. There were some nice uses of spotlights and pop up windows instead of demos. Another set of demos shows off open doc techology on some future version of Claris where live links can be dropped into a document. Another shows teleconferencing with two guys in little windows doing a conference call, while working on a document in a shared window. Apple should really hire professional actors for this -- the guys were pretty stiff --but the idea is pretty neat. In my opinion, this is pure fantasy though. Given our experience with distance learning in this class and in Shuen's Management of Innovation and Change, I know for a fact that this is not as easy it looks here.

I also liked the ability to personalize your computer for different users. Personality is something that Window95/PCs definitely lack. Four different user preferences are shown in this demo. I especially like the kids setup, with a whimsical backgro and window setup, and wacky noises for each operation. Then there was the shadowed, industrial look for people who are "cool".

"Freedom to Create" was my favorite area, where the dtp demo showed a rotating 3D red pepper, and the quick draw 3D rotated a palm tree and a tiger. Neat stuff that you should be able to put on your webpage (someday). Also cool was the QuickTime VR. Spinning around and around a kelp forest, and zooming in on the lincoln monument are some of the fun things you can do. Howard would no doubt like to maniputlate the 3-D image of an Apple t-shirt. These are all neat technologies that demonstrate Apple technologies which have a decided edge on PCs.


An effective medium?

As an effetive medium, I give the CD a thumbs up. There is no better way to demontrate these types of technoligies. It was espescially effective in showing off the Quicktime technologies. The CD was generally well designed to be simple and intuitive (except for that first glitch I had). Some things, though, like the teleconferencing sequence areure fantasy, and build up unreasonable expectations.


Overall Impression of the CD

The technologies showcased are pretty amazing and this was a good medium, but knowing the OS problems Apple has right now makes me roll my eyes. Though many of these features are supposedly going to be integrated piecemeal into OS 7, who knows when we will see them. The danger of producing these promo, pre-release CDs is in building a very high level of expectation. The fact that OS 8 is not going to be a major release, but a series of incremental improvements hurts Apple's credibility. Who knows if OS 7 is capable of being ramped up to meet the expectations set by this CD. I am not savy enough on OSs to say. But then again, this may be a non-issue entirely if the Be rumorse true.

Personally, I am pretty disappointed that Apple could not get its act together with OS 8. They needed something visionary to get them back in the fight. Perhaps, the vision will have to come from outside the company? It will be interesting to see where the Be rumors lead....


If you want to conact me, email me - doi@haas.berkeley.edu