Rhapsody




My goal for this page is to provide a clear but brief summary of Apple's OS strategy as presented at this year's WWDC at the San Jose Convention Center. For a more in-depth evaluation, check out the NUMUG Trip Report.

The Rhapsody OS rests on the core technology taken from the Next OS (called Mach), and includes memory protection, pre-emptive multi-tasking and many other features of a modern operating system. One way of looking at it is that it rests in a Unix shell (in fact, during one demonstration, they showed a Mac running in this Unix environment).

Layered upon this Core OS are the Mac OS APIs (known as the blue box) and the Openstep APIs (known as the yellow box). These APIs are integrated into one system providing the Macintosh with a user friendly interface (which we have come to expect from a Mac), an advanced look and feel (extended GUI features and more user customization), and a powerful memory protected, pre-emptive multi-tasking core (e.g., program crashes will no longer cause the system to crash).

The Java APIs are also going to be built into the operating system rather than layered on top of it as they are now. This system-level support of Java provides a stronger foundation for writing Java applets and applications for the Mac, and faster executing code.

The most exciting news delivered at the conference was the announcement, and demonstration, of cross-platform support. A developer can write an application in Rhapsody on the Macintosh, and without changing any code, recompile the application to have it run in Windows 95 and Windows NT.


First of all, there will be a version of Rhapsody which actually runs on Intel machines. Pre-Rhapsody Mac applications will not be able to run on this machine, but all Rhapsody Mac applications will. This also gives the Intel machine the complete look and feel of a Macintosh running Rhapsody (natively, not on top of Windows).


For those who prefer the Windows look and feel, the Yellow Box will also run on Windows 95 and Windows NT. This means you can take an application written for Rhapsody on the Mac, re-compile it in the above environment without changing any code, and the application will run in Windows 95 and Windows NT with the Windows look and feel.


Finally, the Yellow Box will be able to run on top of the Mac OS, allowing Rhapsody applications to run in "emulation" mode on Macs not running the Rhapsody OS.

To help clarify all the above, here is are some brief definitions of terms:

Mac OS
The old Mac OS (7.6, 8.0, etc.) running on raw hardware (Mac and Mac clones).

Mach
The Core OS of Rhapsody (from Next technology) incorporating memory protection, pre-emptive multi-tasking and other modern OS features.

Blue Box
A virtual hardware system layered on Mach with the old Mac OS
running on it.

Yellow Box
A set of OpenStep APIs together with new Apple APIs, including Java.

Rhapsody on PowerPC
Blue Box and Yellow Box integrated, layered on top of Mach on top of PowerPC hardware.

Rhapsody on Intel
Yellow Box layered on top of Mach on top of Intel hardware.

Duel OS Strategy
Apple will be supporting duel-operating systems: Mac OS, and Rhapsody.

The current version of Mac OS is 7.6.1, with 8.0 scheduled for July of this year. I currently have a beta version of 8.0, and it has some really nice improvements. If anyone is interested in hearing more about 8.0 features, feel free to e-mail me.

A developer's release of the Rhapsody OS is scheduled for later this year, with a full commercial release scheduled for mid-1998.



Updated: 31-May-1997
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