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Note: Information contained in archived ITSS newsletter articles was current at the time of publication, but may not reflect the present state of technology or ITSS.

May 2002

Macintosh OSX vs. OS9 - Which to Use?
About a year ago, Apple introduced their new OSX (pronounced "Oh Es Ten") operating system for the Macintosh. Although on the surface OSX looks quite a bit like the previous Macintosh Operating systems, underneath it's completely different. OSX is based on BSD Unix and when you run OSX your Macintosh is now actually a unix workstation.

OSX has come installed on all new Macs for the past year, and starting in 2002 all new Macs have now started up directly into OSX.

OSX is a wonderful, powerful new operating system and is the future of the Macintosh - but many Macintosh users may want to stay with OS9 for a while longer. During this earlier stage of development, OSX may not offer a lot of advantages for you vs. its disadvantages, which include:

- Learning a new way of doing things. OSX's "Aqua" interface is fairly similar to the Macintosh you're familiar with, but many things are very different and it will take a while for you to become comfortable with it. As newer versions of OSX are released, many of the familiar OS9 features are finding their way back into OSX.

- Most of the software and utilities you'll still be using (until you buy newer upgrades) don't run under OSX. Most of these programs can still be used since OS9 (now called "Classic") can run as an application environment for your older programs under OSX. But you'll lose some performance and possibly some features in those applications. A number of UMD-related utilities and services also don't work with OSX yet.

- Not all of your peripherals may be compatible with OSX yet. This includes some personal printers, scanners, third-party keyboards and mice, etc.

In short, you're not likely to gain a lot of productivity from OSX at the moment. If you're currently using a non-OSX Mac you'll be able to get back up and working on your new Mac quicker if you stay with OS9 for a while longer. It's easy to switch back and forth between starting up into OS9 or OSX, so you can still try out both operating systems.

Naturally, this advice will change as Apple continues to develop OSX over the next year. Look for another major OSX upgrade late this summer or early fall.

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Last modified on 05/06/02
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