SAN FRANCISCO--Apple Computer (AAPL) introduced a minor upgrade to the Macintosh operating system (Mac OS) that incorporates built-in support for DVD (digital versatile disc), the first major operating system to do so, according to Apple.
The revision, called Mac OS 8.1, also fixes minor bugs, improves Java compatibility, and includes an improved disk file system called HFS+ and support for an industry-wide universal file system called UDF (Universal Disk Format).
Mac OS 8.1 includes software designed to simplify Internet access configuration and designates the bundled Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.1 as the default Web browser. Netscape Navigator 4.04 is also bundled with the OS software.
The upgrade, which will be available in February, will be free to current Mac OS 8.0 customers, via Apple's Web site, or cost $19.95 for a CD installation disk. Two million copies have been sold since its July introduction, according to Apple. The software retails for $99.
1 Apple had previously said it will incorporate DVD-ROM drives into most of its Macintosh desktop and notebook lines by early 1998. DVD-ROMs are able to deliver better audio and video than the CD-ROMs now in use. They can store up to 4.7GB of multimedia data, while CD-ROMs can hold a maximum of around 650MB.
Integrating DVD-ROM with multimedia technologies is a top priority for Apple because it is of such interest to its core audience of content creators. Judging by recent studies, more and more content creators will be ordering DVD-ROM drives in their systems by next year. According to Forrester Research, as early as 1998, computer manufacturers may begin to scrap CD-ROM drives in favor of DVD-ROM drives.
Mac OS 8.1 incorporates Apple's latest Java virtual machine, MRJ 2.0, which enables users to run Java applications or applets (mini-programs that run inside other software) using IE or Apple's Applet Runner software. Java is an interpreted language, meaning it relies on "virtual machine" technology for its portability across platforms.
By mid-1998, Apple will release a major revision to the Mac OS, code-named Allegro, as well as the full release of Rhapsody.