Jobs Gets the Web Religion
Monday, August 14, 1995 by Dave Winer.
I got a bunch of requests from people wanting new features in the Macintosh operating system. The first came from Steve Zellers, firstname.lastname@example.org, who asks for "Universal URL resolution. You should be able to specify a URL as the source in a standard file open dialog."
I asked for clarification -- does this mean that the Mac OS should have an FTP client built in? Steve says "Sure." I understand what Steve is asking for. If you're on a net-connected Macintosh, the Internet could appear to be a huge hard disk. Cooool! And the interesting thing about Steve is that he could probably write the code to do this.
Steve added: "The Grateful Dead's music and culture takes the place, for many of its fans, of an organized religion like Christianity or Judaism, both of which try to explain death using scare tactics. The GD explained death through living, and finding meaning in death through life.
From Michael S. Daitzman, email@example.com: "Alt-Tab to shift between open applications. So far as I can tell the addition of this feature by MS Office was the only reason for installing it."
From John Gilmore, firstname.lastname@example.org: "I want help for greyed-out menu items. Hitting them should give a message that says what you can do to un-grey them. Things 'go grey' and you can't tell why or what you can do about it. You know you want to do the thing that the menu item does, but there's absolutely no path in the user interface to finding out how to make it happen. In a non-GUI, you can always command the system to do something, and it has to explain itself to you with an error message if it can't or won't do it. In the Mac GUI, it's authoritarian: You can't do that. We don't have to explain why."
Danny Goodman, email@example.com, a noted Mac guy, has been testing Windows 95 for a year. He has eleven features he likes in Windows that he'd like to see in the Macintosh system software.
1. All file dialog listings are alive: you can drag items to the Recycle Bin if you like.
2. Right-clicking on Desktop objects for a popup menu of the most likely operations you want to perform. Suddenly, a two-button mouse makes a lot of sense.
3. Right-clicking on the desktop for a menu that includes options for creating new documents of various programs installed on your PC.
4. The Undo command (Desktop/Explorer) you mentioned in your DaveNet piece is actually a multiple-level Undo. Very nice.
5. Quick viewers of popular data types -- zip open a document to read it, instead of waiting 20 seconds for Word to launch.
6. Dynamic memory management, so there's no need to worry about application memory partitions.
7. Multitasking of desktop and file operations.
8. Auto-Play CD-ROMs.
9. Integrated telephony data that all phone-dialing programs can use.
10. Resizable columns in text listings of disks/folders.
11. Sorting and inverse sorting (toggle) by column in text listings.
On I wrote "It's time to bury the hatchet, let bygones be gone and welcome [Steve Jobs] back into the software industry. He's got a bit of heat. I hope he does something good with it."
The heat I was referring to was the connection between the Next operating system and the worldwide web. I was surprised, at the time, to find out that Next users were instrumental in building the protocols, tools and servers of the worldwide web. It seemed that Next could do something with that heat.
And they have. WebObjects. "An environment for rapidly building and deploying web-based applications on top of many popular operating systems, including Windows NT, Solaris, SunOS, HP-UX and others."
Jobs is pushing for interactive websites. Yeah. Steve man, you got it!
I wish I had been at today's press conference. I would loved to have written about it.
Maybe next time.
I read yesterday that Motorola has cut its wireless data staff by 20 percent because of poor sales of their Newton and General Magic PDA products.
I thought it was interesting to contrast this to the news about Next and its web strategy. I think there are lots of parallels between Next and the approaches used by Apple and General Magic. But they're at different points in their lifecycles. Next has finally found a purpose. The PDAs are still searching.
I have no idea what Apple should do with Newton, although the ads these days are much more realistic and do a far better job of explaining how the product could be useful to an ordinary person. Glad to see them getting down to earth. But there's a problem -- the product wasn't designed to fit into the world that most computer users live in.
I wrote about this in one of my first DaveNet pieces, back in . View the PDA as a peripheral device for personal computer users, I said, and it might work. Now I think even that's too much to ask.
I have some advice for General Magic, because unlike Newton, their software has utility outside of the PDA form factor. Go the route that Next went and get out of the hardware business. Focus on Mac and Windows client software. Break compatibility with the current user base if you have to. You need a critical mass of users. The only place you can find that critical mass is in the mass market platforms. Make Magic Cap relevent to current Internet users. The Motorola news is an important indicator that the PDA strategy isn't working.
PS: Next has a website at http://www.next.com, with information about WebObjects and also an invite for a party tonight in San Franciso! Coool.
PPPS: Philippe Kahn, firstname.lastname@example.org, says: "I bet that Jerry is jamming with Mozart, Ravel, Bird, Trane, Miles and Jimi right now and he's got a BIG smile on his face!" Yeah!