Mac Musings

Go Ahead, Stick with Mac OS 9

Daniel Knight - 2002.09.12 -

Steve Jobs already held a mock funeral for Mac OS 9, so nobody should have been at all surprised when he announced that next year's models won't be able to boot in the classic Mac OS.

But based on the comments of some, you'd think the world was coming to an end - the Mac world at least.

Sorry, but this was as inevitable as MHz ratings and hard drive sizes going up year after year. The old OS always makes way for the new.

Been There, Done That

Was there outrage when System 6 was displaced by System 7? After all, 7.0 wouldn't let you turn of MultiFinder and really needed 2 MB of RAM. Worse, some applications broke under the newer, more bloated OS.

On the other hand, nobody was forced to abandon System 6 or the computers that already ran it so well. To this day there's a dedicated core of System 6 users visiting System 6 Heaven and participating in our System 6 email list.

Whether they're using a 1 MB 8 MHz Mac Plus or an 8 MB 40 MHz Mac IIfx, the old OS and their old software run just fine on their old hardware. I've even heard of people running System 6 on 68040 accelerated Mac IIcis (see Turbo Six Hotrods).

That Was Then, This Is Now

Is there any difference between that and Apple's announcement that the 2003 Macs won't boot into Mac OS 9?

No, there isn't. Macs designed after System 7 are generally unable to run System 6, and models designed around Mac OS 8.x won't run any version of 7.x. That's just the way things have always worked on the Mac side of the street.

I realize things are different on the PC side of the street, where you can probably still boot those Pentium and Athlon powered beasties from DOS 3.3 on a 5.25" floppy if you want to, but to get the most out of modern hardware, you need an operating system designed to support modern features such as USB, FireWire, PCI slots, AGP video, gigabit ethernet, AirPort, and the like.

The OS 9 Solution

Rather than decrying Apple for doing what they've always done - designing new models for the new OS and leaving the old behind - those who know and love the classic Mac OS have a much better option. They can stick with whatever Power Mac or 'Book they're currently using and keep running OS 9.x on it.

If that's not good enough, they can always upgrade to pre-2003 models that will still boot the OS they know and love. And if that's no longer fast enough at some point, I suspect we'll see faster processor upgrades for today's dual processor Power Macs, so you may eventually be able to zoom past the power of a pair of 1.25 GHz G4 CPUs.

Nobody is forcing them to switch - just like when Apple went from System 6 to 7 in 1991. Stick with your low-end Macs and low-end operating systems. They will continue to serve you well.