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23 October 1997

What is an OS? Wired News asks this question in the light of the recent DoJ/Microsoft squabble (see below).

Microsoft is being attacked from all sides. The Department of Justice is threatening to fine the company one million dollars per day unless it stops requiring OEM licencees to install Internet Explorer along with Windows 95 on new systems. While initially most people assumed that the primary intent of the DoJ censure was primarily aimed at preventing Microsoft from leveraging it's OS near-monopoly to force Netscape out of business, recently licencees like Compaq and Gateway have testified that MS threatened to yank their licences if they did not both install IE on their machines, but also keep the IE and MSN icons on the desktop. Those companies with agreements with MS competitors like Netscape and AOL, were prohibited from altering the default Windows95 install configuration on new computers that they sell. ZDNet has more info.

This muddies the water a bit. Microsoft's primary argument is closely related to its IE 4.0 hoopla, wherein the internet and the desktop are merged, and the desktop can display web pages while the browser can browse the hard drive. With this paradigm, the browser is part of the OS, and therefore should not be removed or altered by OEM licencees. On the other hand, a web browser is clearly an application, no matter its functionality or the fact that it's bundled with the OS.

This largely philosophical issue could develop into public discourse over the nature of an operating system. We'll keep you posted.

All this is, of course, on top of Sun Microsystems' much-ballyhooed lawsuit over Microsoft's misappropriation of Java technology. (Of course, Sun "ballyhoos" everything relating to Java, doesn't it?).

Not to mention Ralph Nader's upcoming conference of Microsoft's anti-competitive practices.

Registered Macintosh develpers are gradually receiving and installing their DR1 developer release of Rhapsody. The good news is that it apparently runs flawlessly on the Powermac 7x00 hardware. The other good news is that it runs very stably. The bad news is that this is only the developer release, and a lot of people would like to get their hands on it. Macintouch has some important installation advice, including documentation of a minor bug.

68k Mac-using Linux fans will be glad to hear that a lot of progress had be made on the MkLinux port to the older 68k hardware. According to Macintouch:

The Linux/m68k project, which is porting Linux to 680x0-based Mac systems, has reached some breakthroughs in its long effort to reverse-engineer the Mac architecture in the absence of any support from Apple. The group now has "working code for nubus, ADB, SCSI, most internal and external video cards, numerous ethernet cards, and (of course) the vast array of drivers already working for the established Linux ports."

Mac the Knife recently posted a screenshot supposedly from the mysterious COS Operating System. Though he casts doubt on the authenticity of the screenshot, and on COS itself, MacNN's Reality exposes the screenshot as a fraud, further eroding COS' credibility. COS is supposedly a high security Mac-compatible operating system capable of running with very little RAM and a small footprint. It is being developed by a GErman company called Omega. Many people doubt the accuracy of the claims, and some are convinced that the whole thing is a hoax. Time will tell. For more info on COS, see the recent MacWeek article.

Reality also has some Rhapsody screenshots, showing the Blue box in action.

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