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Apple OS chief quits

Apple's pointman for its struggling operating system resigns just as the company is gearing up to make a major announcement about its Mac OS in January.

Apple Computer's (AAPL) pointman for its struggling operating system has resigned just as the company is gearing up to make a major announcement about its Mac OS in January.

Isaac "Ike" Nassi, who headed the Applesoft division for two years, today told CNET that, after having worked at Apple for more than seven years, it was time to "do something else."

Apple's OS plans underwent a strategy change this year. The company had planned to overhaul its operating system in a single move with the long-awaited release of the Copland OS. Instead, Apple has taken parts of that technology and placed them into revisions of its Mac OS System 7.0 and will add such features as multitasking and multithreading in its System 8.0 that is expected to be released in early 1998.

The impetus for change is Apple's rapidly declining marketshare. Microsoft (MSFT) continues to gain further ground with its Windows 95 operating system.

Ellen Hancock, Apple's new chief technology officer, will assume Nassi's duties, said Russell Brady, an Apple spokesman. Nassi previously had reported to Hancock, who joined Apple in July.

Nassi's resignation comes at a time when the computer maker's acquisition talks with operating system software maker Be hit a snag last week over a serious disagreement over price.

Although Nassi's role in the OS division would likely be diminished if a merger occurred, he said his resignation had nothing to do with the Be merger talks. He also rejected speculation that his resignation was related to disagreements with top executives over the direction of the Mac OS.

"I think there was pretty good alignment on our major goals," Nassi said. "We agreed there should be backwards compatibility, good performance...there are various ways to satisfy those goals. And I did not feel there was only one way."

He added he has submitted his "best ideas" for a Mas OS to Hancock and Gilbert Amelio, Apple's chief executive.

"It's up to them to decide if they'll go with these. They haven't fully made up their minds," he said.