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Apple updates Mac OS

The Mac OS 7.6.1 Update will offer users improved system reliability and performance, the company says.

Apple (AAPL) made several announcements regarding the Macintosh operating system today, including enhancements that improve its reliability as well as a software extension that allows devices supporting IEEE 1394, or Firewire, to connect to Macs.

Apple says that the Mac OS 7.6.1 Update will offer improved system reliability and performance for current users. The operating system software controls the basic functions of a computer's hardware.

The new update will also let users of recently announced systems such as the Power Macintosh 4400, 5500, 6500, 7300, 8600, and 9600 use the most current version of the OS. These systems shipped with an earlier version of the Macintosh operating system and can now take advantage of the improvements offered by the new update.

According to Apple, the software update nearly eliminates "Type 11" errors. These are errors which can cause a computer to crash, forcing users to restart their systems without being able to save work already in progress. The update will not eliminate crashes, but will allow users time to save work in other applications before needing to restart the computer.

Apple also announced that it will be the first computer company to offer support for devices using IEEE 1394, or FireWire, buil in to the operating system. The FireWire industry standard is defined as a bus--or data path--that allows for high-speed transfers of data from peripherals such as digital camcorders.

Apple says it plans to make FireWire 1.0 available with the release of Mac OS 8 sometime in June or July. The software will be available to users of the Mac OS Version 7.6 or higher when bundled with FireWire PCI-cards from third party developers.

Those with digital camcorders and video tape recorders (VTRs) that have FireWire ports might make use of the MotoDV software application announced today by Radius (RDUS).

MotoDV converts the digital output from a camera or VCR into a QuickTime movie which is written onto the computer's hard drive. QuickTime is Apple's cross-platform technology for the compression and playback of video.

The application writes separate video, audio, and timecode tracks which can be used in any program that supports the QuickTime format. Radius says the program will ship in June for an estimated retail price of $99.

Mac OS 7.6.1 Update is available for download at a special Web site or through America Online (keyword: AppleComputer) and CompuServe (GO APLSUP). It is also available at CNET's DOWNLOAD.COM.

Apple warns that the update will not install on the PowerBook 3400 but that a special update for these notebook computers will ship shortly.

Customers needing a version of Mac OS 7.6 with foreign language support should visit the European mirror site when the product is released within the next three months.