Apple to forgo major upgrade for smaller, periodic revisions Strategic shift attributed to fierce competition

August 08, 1996|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

BOSTON -- Apple Computer Inc. said yesterday that it has scrapped plans for a major upgrade of its flagship Macintosh operating system software next year, and would instead roll out key features of the new code on a regular but piecemeal basis from now on.

The fundamental shift in strategy, disclosed at the Macworld computer conference in Boston, comes as Apple is struggling to remain competitive in the computer marketplace, especially in the face of the increasing dominance of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 95 and Windows NT operating systems.

The new strategy means "there will be no single mega-event once every two or three years," said Gilbert F. Amelio, Apple's chairman and chief executive. "Instead, it will be a process of continual improvement."

Amelio said Apple from now on would release software updates on a calendar basis, with major upgrades coming every six months, typically in January and July, and minor releases, known as bug fixes, coming every three months.

Amelio made the announcement in a speech to the twice-yearly conference, which attracted 50,000 of Apple's most dedicated customers,

Under its original plan, Apple was to have released a major revision of its Macintosh operating system, officially called System 8 but informally known as Copland, earlier this year. But Apple had already conceded that System 8 had become so complex that it would not be ready until sometime in 1997.

Apple's critics have said the company's recent, precipitous slide in revenue and market share can be traced, in part, to Apple's failure to have Copland ready in time to counter the introduction of Windows 95 last year.

Pub Date: 8/08/96

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