The Windows operating system may dominate the market, but today Apple showed it is still in the fight by releasing a beta version of its Mac OS X on the same day Microsoft rolled out the Windows Millennium Edition (Me).
Apple also announced two additions to its iBook notebook computer line.
These are moves that could give the flat software market a much needed boost. Information from PC Data, Reston, Va., indicate sales have improved little over last year. However, the research company expects Millennium to have an impact on sales, said Roger Lanctot, PC Data's director of research.
"Software sales are flat in general, but the launch of Windows Millenium Me promises to jumpstart demand," he said.
Melissa Orr, president of the in-store detailing firm Campaigners, added that Windows Me could help kick off the normally strong fourth quarter sales early this year.
The Apple faithful have patiently waited through several delays for last week's launch. Apple CEO Steve Jobs reported in July 1999 that Mac OS X would ship earlier this year and this was then pushed into the summer. A full version is expected in early 2001 and at time it will be included on all Apple computers. According to industry reports, the postponements were due to the fact that unlike Windows Me, OS X is a total revamp of Apples OS and not just a simple upgrade but was rebuilt from the ground up using open source Unix as its foundation.
Some features include a new desktop interface, a new iMovie video editing software, a new email client, an upgraded QuickTime movie viewer and the new Quartz 2D graphics engine.
Major additions to Windows Me include the ability to recognize the popular types of home-networking systems, such as telephone line and wireless, and includes an onscreen wizard to assist in the installation of a network. Millennium also features what Microsoft calls Universal Plug and Play for upcoming home-automation networks that would allow consumers to control their appliances and home-related systems through the PC. Enhanced digital camera and video editing capabilities are included, as well as an improved Windows Media Player.
Mac OS X is selling for $29.95 from the Apple Web store and is being bundled with a couple of Apple computers.
The Windows Me upgrade edition carries a suggested retail price $59.95, but is selling at a promotional price of $49.95. It is being debuted on PCs and notebooks from Hewlett-Packard and Compaq. CompUSA even took the added measure of running a Windows Me in newspapers across the country to hype the software.
Two models were added to the iBook line. The indigo colored model features a 366 MHz G3 processor, with 64MB of SDRAM, 256K of level 2 cache, a 10GB hard drive, Ethernet card, Firewire ports, iMovie software, CD-ROM and 56Kbps modem with a $1,499 estimated retail price. The iBook Special Edition, in graphite, has a 466MHz G3 processor and adds a 6x DVD-ROM drive with an estimated retail price of $1,799. Both models are offered in Apple's new key lime color and are available starting today.