I just went up to Apple for some Rhapsody (YellowBox) training. I must say that the more I work with Rhapsody (OpenStep / YellowBox) the more impressed with it I become. There certainly needs to be a lot more spit and polish on the User Interface (Rhapsody), but I believe that will happen -- and the foundation seems great. Developing Apps on YellowBox is still very nice, and very productive. There are a few quirks with Interface Builder and more with Project Builder -- but as a developer, I am very excited to increase my productivity by an order of magnitude. YellowBox can't solve all the worlds evils, but it does a good job and denting the ones in programming.
BlueBox and Rhapsody are pretty stable, and the install process is not too painful (at least compared to Windows). In fact this article (and some others) have been written in ClarisHomePage (running on BlueBox on Rhapsody). I have Rhapsody running on my 7500 (3 way booting with MacOS and BeOS), and I have Rhapsody for Intel working on my PC, along with YellowBox running under Windows95. If I add BeOS for Intel on my PC, then I've got it all. I plan on writing some articles evaluating the different OS's, and what they will mean to users, and really going in-depth in each area of each OS, and explaining the strengths and weaknesses (as I see them). But this will actually become a rather large project, so it may be a while.
I nosed around Apple while I was up there, and must say, I got more information than I expected to. But I also can not share most of it (some of it was NDA'd, some of it I just won't talk about). Let me start with an explanation as to why --
Apple is very serious about security. Very, very. Something like 120 people got fired because of an internal memo that leaked out to the press. Apple not playing around. If you talk to the press (and you work for Apple) then your job is in jeopardy. Some of this has been reported on MacOS Rumors and elsewhere, but until you see, first hand, the change in culture, you don't realize how serious the impact is. (The change overall is not that major -- but changing a corporate culture at all is very hard to do, so any change is "serious").
Why the paranoia? Apple feels that the press, and leaks are "telegraphing their punches".
What if you threw a press conference and no one came? Well some claim that it has been happening to Apple. Literally, Apple has thrown press conferences to announce some new product, and the leaks have been so many (and sometimes so accurate), that the press is disinterested in showing up because "it is old news". This is what is motivating Apple's Jack-Booted actions.
Surprisingly, some people in the industry (well my company at least), have said that if Apple can actually crack down on their security leaks, then it shows that they ARE growing up as a company, and not being just "the same old Apple". So as much as we as users like leaks and info, it really may be in Apple's interest to clamp down on this stuff. If Apple can surprise us and the press, then that can really be good for the platform.
One example of the crack-down is that Apple found beta copies of their OS's (8.1b) on some Pirate sites, and they decided to temporarily shut down (and revamped) their developers FTP site in response. <SLAM> There is talk that they are going to be serializing all files downloaded, so they can track future software leaks. I also know that they seed people with false information, or "specialized" specifics, to track where leaks are coming from. I am not sure of the effectiveness of the effort, or even the nobility of the goal, but Apple is at least making an effort to do things differently. I think that matters. If Apple does succeed, I think they will be able to surprise the press (and public) for the better -- and that will change perceptions of the company.
So I certainly won't villify the sites that publish the leaks (nor condemn the leakers). I will still read MacOS Rumors (and sites like it) -- and really appreciate the service they offer. But I won't villify Apple for trying to behave like a business, and trying to surprise the press and public every now and again -- even when it requires them to be hard-asses around the office.
Steve Jobs is "Loved by thousands, Hated by millions". (An old quote from a classic cult film). He is brilliant, and can be a complete prick (at least according to those that deal with him), but he has vision and can sell people on that vision. He can be very extreme and he will roll over anyone that gets in his way. Don't get me wrong, I respect his vision, drive, and ability to take charge and get things done (and standing up for what he beleives in) -- and I (of all people) value directness, but I think he could be a tad more diplomatic, and do what he needs to do to be a good CEO. (It is one thing for me to be a mouthy, undiplomatic writer, it would be quite another if I was the acting CEO and representing Apple).
Apple still gossips internally ("As the Apple Turns"), and Jobs has become the focus of many tales of a complete lack of decorum (like throwing people out of meetings, or asking "who are you?" of people who offer opinions or ask questions -- as a way to put them down). Some of the stories are quite amusing -- but overall, I think the company is becoming resigned to having an eccentric parent... and actually learning to adapt. Jobs plays egalitarian -- but in the same way that Stalin did... follow his vision of utopia or get crushed. In the style of Animal farm, "Some pigs are more equal than others". (In fact I think the many of the stories about Jobs actions, are just Steve reminding Everyone of exactly who is in charge). Despite the negatives to moral, Jobs gives Apple a renewed focus, and gives many people hope. He is making the tough decisions, many times it is even the right decisions (and he will make the wrong ones into right ones by sheer force of will). He is doing Everything in his power to make his vision happen -- so for good or bad, he is in charge -- and for once, Apple seems to be getting some focus (in many areas) on what it is people are doing. Many people are not "happy" -- but they are doing, and the results of what they are doing have a much better chance of being successful under Jobs than under most others. So my opinion of Jobs is still that he is a mixed bag -- he will either save Apple, or kill it in the process, but he will make things happen. For now, I can't say I like of all of his decisions -- but more often than not there are good reasons for them, and I think he is doing more good than harm. At least Apple has adult supervision -- even if it is just a little like having an abusive parent.
So I think Apple will still do just fine. In fact, I think they have seen the worst of it. The only problem is that much of Apples future right now hinges on others being bright enough to see the immense value of Apple's products. Apple needs allies right now, and needs to make alliances -- fortunately, I think Apple realizes that. Many of those companies that Apple needs to ally with, need Apple more than Apple needs them. In fact, some companies (like Sun, SGI, among others) are in a far far worse place than Apple is, the press just hasn't realized it yet. So they had better make nice while they can. I have reason to believe Steve knows this as well, and that he will do everything in his power to make the deals happen -- and these deals need to happen (for all involved).
I keep pondering the future. (Especially during plane flights -- more so when the person facing you is throwing up repeately into plastic baggy). The industry as at a cross roads -- and the question is whether we are going to collapse into a single standard (Windows), whether we are going to converge and merge (borrow the good from) many standards, or whether the new Middleware (and object oriented software/OS's) are going to make all that irrelevant. Apple is in a great position to make two of the three posibilities happen (with the help of allies) and to exploit them if they do happen -- but if the third choice happens, the entire industry will suffer. I'm betting on that the industry will lean towards the other two.