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Letters-General Questions Answered  

 


Comment from E-mail: (8 Questions to Woz)
1. What are your opinions on Mac OS 9, and the upcoming Mac OS X?

Woz:
I am very happy with OS 9 and the few genuine improvements that it brought. One of them was automatic software updates, which makes it OS 9.x anyway. I didn't find OS 9 overloaded with new features or additional ways to do the same things. I hate such complexities, so I'm always happier if an OS release concentrates on a few key items and bug fixes. I had been having some conflict problems with Sherlock 1 and they went away with Sherlock 2. I heard that some people really hate the Sherlock 2 (and DVD Player) look, but I love them and find them quite easy to use. I really like the Sherlock channels.

I'm a bit scared of the upcoming Mac OS X. I'm not sure if it will seem like a visually changed interface to do the same things in a different way. It's like the ways that manuals change their design and style every few years. Well, if you hire people whose specialty is designing manual styles, they will always be changing. OS X seems like it might have simpler access to what I do the most but I'm cautious to say that I like the dock. As Nicholas Negroponte, a strong advocate of user interfaces tailored to humans and a supporter of the Macintosh for this reason, points out in "Being Digital," one can always find things quickly in their messy desk but they are in trouble if a maid cleans it up. I see a bit of the maid cleanup in the dock. But I'm prepared to jump into MacOS X early (but not until released) and find out for real how I feel about it. Right now I can only refer to a very few images that I saw at MacWorld.

Comment from E-mail:
2. What are your opinions on the way Steve Jobs is running Apple, and his recent reward?

Woz:
I think that Steve's reward is in line with other such rewards when companies were pulled out of critical times. I think that a CEO at a company the size of Apple should be generously compensated anyway. I do believe that Gil Amelio did take a lot of proper steps along lines that Steve wanted. I couldn't tell you if Apple would have been brave enough to come out with the iMac without Steve, but you may remember that the risky and exotic Emate came out before.

As for how Steve is running Apple, I see real strategies and directions that all make sense. Apple has great products for today's business and is positioning itself for the future, where a lot of what we have in our own computer will be kept and done for us on the internet. A lot of the value of your computer will exist (and be purchased) on servers elsewhere. That's the trend and Apple is going to be there. We missed out on some important computing trends in the past. I see Steve as going in the right directions.

As for today's products, I feel that I have excellent professional towers and laptops. But I care a lot about the 'normal' family needs and I love the iMacs and iBooks for their ease of use just as they come.

I've read a lot of very discouraging views about the way the company is being run by Steve. It's very disconcerting, because I somewhat agree with what is being said. Often it's along the lines of Apple having atrocious customer support. I also read negative views of his foresight for Apple in the future. They all make it seem like Steve is trying to take advantage of Macintosh owners. These complaints fall into the well known image of Steve. But in most cases I have to say that it's more important to do the things that keep the company profitable and on track than to try to do everything and keep the most customers possible happy. I do think that the customer support is pretty bad these days, and I have a lot of experience to go on.

Comment from E-mail:
3. If you were running Apple, what would you do to improve it?

Woz:
Hire someone else.

Comment from E-mail:
4. When you look back on your years with Steve Jobs, and the development of the Apple II and the Mac, what do you remember most?

Woz:
Days even before the computers. Days of sharing an interest in Bob Dylan songs and bootlegs. Days of tear gas and riots and phone phreaking in Berkeley. Days of chatting about all sorts of things while driving places together. Days of driving up to Oregon many times to see him and other friends. I also remember how Steve and Mike Markkula really saw my computer as a vehicle to bring a properly packaged product to people. The designs that I did were rare, and I did care about the common Joe above all else, but a refined view was essential. Also, I remember how important Apple was to Steve, to be part of running a company.

Comment from E-mail:
5. What are your current opinions about Microsoft, Bill Gates stepping down, and the competition they're creating for Apple?

Woz:
I don't like but don't dislike Microsoft products. I use Internet Explorer (and iCab) and Outlook Express now, after extensive comparisons. I like the iMouse too. But I stick to AppleWorks instead of MS Office. Some Microsoft products are too important for business for me to expect that common people like myself will be well suited to such software. I do use Encarta and BookShelf a lot. I put disk images of them on all my computers, along with a launching script that I wrote, so that they are quite available.

Microsoft is a monopoly. So is Apple, but not as important of one. Microsoft used it's monopoly position in Windows to gain a larger share of the browser market (by far) than they could have done as an outside, independent company. An outside company couldn't have afforded to develop Explorer and give it away, nor could they have forced us to encounter it before Netscape's browsers. This is what the antitrust laws are all about. Microsoft says that they were within the law. Well, you have to ask yourself what that means. It means that some action could have put them outside of the law. I read the entire 207 page finding of fact and couldn't imagine one more thing that Microsoft could have done with their Windows monopoly to gain ground for Explorer.

I don't think that a breakup is the best solution. I think that some payback for the dozens/hundreds/thousands/more? of companies that didn't get to be the innovators, because Microsoft had the power to keep them from it or to gain the innovation for itself. Microsoft should be told to make available preferential placing with Windows of other categories of software and services for a reasonable time, approximately as long as things went the other way. That way any wrong effect will be equally undone. If there was no wrong effect, there will be none the other way. I'm just thinking this up right now, that's why it's written crudely.

Comment from E-mail:
6. What kind of Mac do you use?

Woz:
Mainly a PowerBook G3/400, the top of the line PowerBook. I leave 2 batteries in the machine most of the time to insure that they are both well charged if I get stranded. I carry the CD/DVD Drive with me. I also carry about a dozen DVD movies with me. I carry my Ricochet modem and a spare battery for it also. It only occasionally gets used, but is very important at those times. I carry my wallet with the computer and a GameBoy with Tetris to play in spare time. I always have a SmartMedia PCMCIA adapter inserted in the computer so that I can take the media from my camera straight to the computer immediately. I carry a couple of emergency CD-ROM's and a System CD-ROM too. I carry an IBM 340 MB microdrive and it's PCMCIA adaptor. I carry an additional Compact Flash PCMCIA adapter but the microdrive adaptor would work for this. I carry some large (220 MB) flash RAMs for quick passing of data, a'la floppies, to other PowerBooks. I also carry the Lucent WaveLAN silver card, which is compatible with my AirPort networks, but I may not use it as I have a LAN connection when I'm in those places. Almost all my other computers, iMacs and iBooks and Power Macintosh G4's, do use the airport, and I'd use it in the PowerBook if it didn't require a PCMCIA card. Remember that my single PCMCIA slot is occupied with a SmartMedia adapter. I also carry, in my computer case, my Palm Pilot and a small Fuji 2700 camera. When I travel I add a minidisk player and noise canceling headphones.

Comment from E-mail:
7. What's your favorite iMac flavor?

Woz:
Blueberry, but I have all and like all. The same is true for my iBook.

Comment from E-mail:
8. What's your favorite aspect of the latest generations of Macs (iMac, iBook, Powerbook, G4, etc.)?

Woz:
The AirPort is. I didn't know at first how much I'd like it. But the first day that I set one up and installed the software (on my iBook) and everything set up easily and worked, I was a convert. I have 6 iMacs and 3 Power Macintosh G4's all lined up for a "LAN Party" (for game playing kids) within my SuperBowl party this Sunday. After configuring and networking them today, I yanked out the ethernet hubs and just used the AirPort cards that I'd put in each one already.


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