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But wait, there's more...

By:David K. Every
©Copyright 1999

Rhapsody is a complex NeXT Generation Operating System. It will look similar to the current MacOS (well System 8), but will have many more powerful functions. It will not only be able to run YellowBox (new) Applications, but it will also have compatibility Boxes for running other Applications as well.

Understanding the whole

Rhapsody is a collection of many parts, all brought into a unified whole. This new Uber-OS will be written for Macs and take advantage of the PowerPC. Applications written for the new YellowBox will not only run on Rhapsody for the Mac, but will also run on WinNT and Win95 (Win98). Lastly Apple will offer Rhapsody the OS for Intel platforms as well.

The PowerPC Rhapsody will still be the best user experience and will run MacOS applications as well.

Blue Box will ONLY run on PowerPC Rhapsody (not on any of the Intel versions).

Here are the components of Rhapsody -

Apples Advanced User-Interface (MacOS+)
Black Box
Unix (Mach)
Blue Box
System 8+
Yellow Box
OpenStep, EOF, WebObjects
Red Box?
Windows Emulation
System Services
QuickTime, Display Postscript, Scripting
Mach Kernel

The major components are a Mach (Unix) Kernel with the best of Mac and NeXT's system services on top (not to mention some new surprises). On top of this Apple will put various Operating System functions, including MacOS, OpenStep, Windows and Unix. Then the whole project will be wrapped in an advanced look and feel (User Interface) that will be a superset of MacOS 8.

The idea is that on the Macintosh you will be able to run all MacOS applications of today, better than they currently run (due to some new services and the Mach kernel). But you will also be able to run new, more powerful Apps, written for Yellow Box. Yellow Box apps will be the future for development - but it takes time to evolve. So BlueBox is the bridge that will allow lots of older Applications to run, and YellowBox will allow hot new (much more powerful) Applications to be written.

To make the platform even more appealing and compete in a corporate world - Red Box will allow many Windows Applications (Win32 apps) to run as well. Apple is not talking about this much, so this is a lot of speculation and rumor. On Intel, RedBox will be the Windows API's running natively on top of the other services. On PowerPC, the RedBox will be an Emulator that will allow Windows Application to work on Rhapsody. Apple may not directly offer RedBox on the MacOS since there are already a few good emulators available, or they may just make a licensing deal with Connectix (or Insignia) to bundle their emulators.

Since a good part of Unix is already working as part of Rhapsody, and OpenStep runs on Unix, Apple will include a Unix personality so that Unix hacks can have fun - and so schools,corporations and developers can leverage the huge code base of Unix apps that are available. Technically this is not really a separate "Box", it is just a shell (CLI) that is allowed to get down to the Kernel, and that can use other System Services.

So Rhapsody truly then becomes "the most compatible Operating System" available (which Gil Amelio has alluded to on more than a few occasions).

This multi-box approach is nice for legacy and appeasing people in the present, and compelling for corporations, homes and schools -- but the real exciting part is still Yellow Box (OpenStep), which is the future.

Every developer that has ever used OpenStep has stated that it is the best development system they have ever worked on, and that their productivity increased by orders of magnitude. This is a real Cross-Platform Object Oriented Operating System that will bring computing to the NeXT level. If programmers are more productive, they can create better programs. If they create better programs - then the users of that platform are rewarded, happy and productive - and the manufacturer of that platform (and OS) is also happy and rewarded. This means big wins for Apple, and bigger wins for its customers.


There is no doubt that as an OS Rhapsody is compelling to developers - who desperately need cross platform and Object Oriented solutions. Empowering these developers will mean better applications. As important is the fact that Rhapsody as an Operating System can become the most compelling Operating System ever made for users. It can allow users to work with all sorts of applications, from many different Operating Systems all simultaneously. The legacy capabilities of this Operating System will be richer than any other OS in history, while simultaneously providing the most power and the best future for Applications. Not only all that, Yellow Box is the easiest Operating System in the world to develop for. So it has ease of use, ease of development, power, flexibility, lots of compatibility, is easier to support, is more robust, more scalable, and will have the best User Interface of any Operating System -- sign me up! This is truly the OS for the NeXT millennium.




Created: 05/20/97
Updated: 11/09/02

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