Apple today announced that starting in January 2003, all new Mac models will only boot into Mac OS X as the start-up operating system, though they will retain the ability to run most Mac OS 9 applications through the “Classic” environment. The company claims that there are nearly 4,000 native applications now available for Mac OS X.

“We expect that 20 per cent of our entire installed base will be using Mac OS X by the end of this year, making it the fastest operating system transition in recent history,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO.

“Now it’s time for Apple and our third-party developers to focus all of our resources exclusively on Mac OS X, rather than dividing them between two different operating systems.”

All new Macs sold since January 2002 have had Mac OS X factory-set as the default operating system. Apple claims that over 75 per cent of customers using these Macs have elected to keep Mac OS X as their default operating system. The company estimates that there are over 3 million Mac OS X users today, and expects to reach 5 million Mac OS X users – or more than 20 per cent of the installed base – by the end of 2002.

Developers happy “We’re happy to see Apple take this next step to drive adoption of Mac OS X,” said Kevin Browne, general manager of the Macintosh Business Unit at Microsoft. “Mac OS X has really come of age with the release of ‘Jaguar,’ and we think the combination of OS X v10.2 and Office v. X for Mac provides our customers with the power and compatibility they’re seeking.”

“Apple is doing the right thing by making their Mac OS X system transition timeline perfectly clear,” said Shantanu Narayen, executive vice president of Worldwide Products at Adobe. “By accelerating Macintosh customer migration to OS X, Apple will make it easier for Adobe and other ISVs to deliver innovative publishing solutions on this robust platform.”

Customers will be able to run older Mac OS 9 applications using the “Classic” software that will continue to be bundled with Mac OS X. The newly released Mac OS X v10.2 operating system has an updated version of Classic, which Apple claims launches twice as fast; awakes from sleep much faster when AppleTalk is turned on; can share the same desktop and document folders and Internet preferences as Mac OS X; and can access all Mac OS X file systems.