Following yesterday's reader rage at Apple's decision to scrap the British-English version of the Mac OS (see "Mac OS 9: UK strikes back"), we publish the latest user responses to the action. Opinion seems more divided on this issue than on Apple's late decision to pull out of its own - and only - UK expo.
Here we cover those readers who think Apple has got it wrong on an International-English version of the Mac OS.
For readers who agree with Apple, see "UK Mac OS 9: Good riddance"
I would have assumed that Apple wants to sell its products in the UK, but begin to question this in light of its recent decisions. I for one would far rather wait a few weeks for an operating system that speaks my language than have an 'international' version. Personally, I will hold the upgrade both of software and hardware while the decision remains in effect. Nice one, Apple!
- Andy Sanders
Let's get real international
One of the claims to fame of the original Macintosh was that the OS was language transparent. By changing a few files, you could make the Mac OS run in English, German, French, etc. I used to have fun with 800K boot floppies in various languages, including Greek and Hebrew. If anything, Apple needs to offer more options, not less. Why not create an international English version of the OS that lets you choose to install a US, Canada, Australia, or UK interface. The Yanks can have their Trash, the Brits their Bin, and the Canucks their Garbage. In the end, why not create a single Mac OS installer that would work for any language and any set of national preferences? Instead of a separate German or Japanese version, Apple could save a fortune by selling the same installation anywhere in the world. With the transition to OS X, there's no better time to make such a move.
- Dan Knight
We in Australia are also annoyed by the American domination of the English language, for years we have also had to teach our children there are two ways to spell words and write dates. Like the Canadians and New Zealanders we are sick of being told to spell the American way. Pleases do not start me on the Baseball caps, and MacDonalds.
- Howard Weir, Sydney, Australia
Would Apple care to define what it means by 'International' English? Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans and probably most others in the English speaking world outside of the United States use the British spelling of 'colour/favourite/centre' etc. as well as 'day/month/year' format. Thus, 'color/favorite/center' and 'month/day/year' date format are LOCAL to the US. If Apple doesn't want to produce a localized British version of the OS (and I understand its arguments), then at least let's have International English that is international!
- Alan Baker
Waste of money
After reading previews of OS 9 including Mr Worlock's, I think it is just a waste of money - just like OS 8.5.1 and 8.6. There are the usual gimmicks such as Sherlock ( did anyone really ask for it?) and small changes to the look of the interface. You also have to remember the cost of upgrades for like Norton Utilities. I'm just looking forward to OS X.
- JF Spew
Well, we won't be upgrading our company's Macs to OS 9 without a localized version. What is Apple playing at?
- Nigel Tipping
If people don't like the non-UK Mac OS 9 then don't buy it. If sales are very poor then perhaps Apple will rethink its policy. Apple cannot count on blind consumer support forever, and Windows is not that different from the Mac OS - so we do have an alternative. Why is it that everyone can run Apple better than they can?
- P. Scott
Total let down
I am in full agreement with the letter from Chris A. Ferne. We have long supported Apple through all the bad times and are strong believers in the Mac. We feel this is a total let down of very loyal customers. Maybe they should abandon the British market altogether as now that times are better they are arrogant enough to no longer need their old, long-standing, faithful, supporting customers. British people do not teach their children bastardized American English. From an educational point of view Apple is bound to lose the British market. - Joyce Harris
Apple doesn't have many feet left to shot at!
- Joe Gillespie, Pixel Productions, London
Let's have it the way Dr Samuel Johnson wanted it, please! In the Queen's English.
- Ross Buckman
As a Canadian, I am appalled at what is becoming acceptable English, let alone even being called English. Idioms, slang and mis-pronunciation have seemingly taken over one's ability and proficiency in knowing and speaking actual English. Rather than correcting these items, parents and educators have adopted the idea that this would hurt a students 'self esteem'. This concept has permeated the education system here and in the US, for both students and teachers. We can thank the psychiatric and psychological factions for this and a host of other oddball ideas.
In recent times, Big Bird, the main character on the popular children's program Sesame Street brought this vividly to light. A young girl was asked what language was spoken in the United States. After the young child hemmed and hawed for a moment, Big Bird exclaimed 'Well, we speak American, don't we?" Since when was 'American' a distinct language?
Now, we have one of the numbers boys at Apple with a bright money-saving idea: "Oh, Steve, like, some of the guys and me have been networking. Like, we can downsize the cost factor at least half a mil if'n we jis go to one language. Like, we got the Canuks pretty well on-side - what with their English-French situation - like, they don't know what's goin' on. The Brits can't be far behind...after all, like, American is what wur all speakin' anyhoo, ain't it??
Apple should definitely reconsider their decision on the British OS and put back what is essentially the main building block of society - correct and exact communication. It would be really 'Thinking Different' if Apple reverted back to the original English and discontinued the 'American' and 'Canadian' versions. There's a cost saving measure that would save millions! Should they not see the light, the effects of this decision will be felt for generations to come.
- Dennis Prunkl, Markham, Canada
I learned English growing up in Malaysia, which is part of the British Commonwealth. I have since adapted to "American English" since moving to the US. I must say that I do miss the difference. Apple is making a mistake in my opinion. I hope UK Mac users protest loudly to Apple.
- Chris Chow, Ohio, USA
US OKs UK OS
I think that it is appalling for Apple to discontinue the British version. There are enough local differences to warrant support. I would hope that they will pick it back up.
- Rich Errington, Austin, TX, USA
What can I say? This is a quirky company. Has anybody carried out an analysis of how much income is generated in the UK and world wide of the UK English version. Probably not.
- Kane Clements
After the great Expo fiasco, I knew and felt appalled at Apple's arrogance. However this new slap in the face with no English version of OS 9, well it's just suicidal. I feel there will be a backlash in the UK and Apple will deserve it. This is just not the way to repay the loyalty of all those long-suffering UK Mac users. I'm a relatively new Mac user and I'm angry and disappointed, what must the 'hardcore' feel? I shall seriously reconsider my intended PowerBook purchase, and shall hold back in promoting a Mac purchase to my brother, and friends. It feels like time to keep quiet about Apple, the UK feels very third world.
- Colin McWilliams
Now I know why they got rid of Steve Jobs the first time round. First Apple Expo 2000, now no localized version of Mac OS. Apple is beginning to suck!!!! There seem to be some unpleasant worms developing in the Apple we know and love. Lets hope someone can squash them in short order.
- Stewart Green
Back in the days when I used to program Macs, Apple used to push out guidelines about how everything that could be internationalized should be stored in resources so that the program logic didn't need to be altered simply to handle a different locale. So, to change from 'Trash' to 'Wastebasket' was a matter of just editing a resource and shipping. Hmm. Do as I say, not as I do - or so it would appear?
- Andy Law, Edinburgh)
Why should I want to buy OS 9.x? OS 8.6 is stable, speaks my language and I have paid for it. My machine does everything I want it to and it is localized for me. I'll need a new Mac soon if I want to use OS X and that will no doubt be in "merkin speak". Or I could of course admit defeat and carry on with my G3 upgraded PM for the foreseeable future and save a shed load of money at Apple's expense. Alternatively I could brush up my German and order OS 9.x and OS X in German (or French, Italian, etc) while Apple still makes SW in "more" foreign languages.
- Mark Smith
Rest of the world
What annoys me is that in South Africa we use British versions of Mac OS too, (and Australia, I assume?) and where was the survey down here? I think it's fair to say that British English is used in many of the Commonwealth member countries as WELL as the UK, and to me that's a very large user base to suddenly write-off as unimportant.
- Chris Lockhart, South Africa
My analysis is that I understand why Apple has done this, but it hasn't thought about it strategically, and has made a logical error. Apple does need to make its development resource more efficient, and reducing the number of English variants is a sensible option. However, it could have made the International English version use British English, which I suspect is what most non-American English users would expect (e.g. Australia, New Zealand, etc etc). Strategically, Apple needs to look after the UK a bit more.
This is because the UK is increasingly a global hub for the creative industries, especially advertising, graphic design and Post Production. Neville Brody spawned a completely new way of looking at Graphic Design with - surprise surprise - Apple kit. Apple's key market is the creative market, and I think it has dropped the ball on this one, especially when you include the UK Apple Expo issue as well.
Personally, I'm not so bothered about using a US version of the software, and it is good that Apple is trying to control development costs. I just think that it has made a wrong business decision here, based on some incorrect assumptions. I have worked for a number of US companies in the past, and I have always found that there is cultural resistance to treating the UK market seriously. In many cases, this has been compounded by the lack of assertiveness of British management in the firm - they should fight more to obtain recognition within their company for the importance of the UK market. I suspect this incident (but even more Apple Expo) is a result of the combination of cultural attitudes and a lack of willingness to resist this by British management. This won't stop me buying Apple - they are really flying now - but they should take more care to get the logic right when they make decisions like this.
- Dave Stansell.
I am writing in response to your article about Apple removing the UK version of its OS. I think that this is a really retrograde step, and I have to agree that it starts to make me think why I bother to stay with the Mac OS. I work in academia, and to my knowledge there was never any indication from Apple to me, or anyone else I know, that they would abandon a UK version. How soon before word processors etc start to not bother with UK regionalized dictionaries? Anyway what exactly is International English?
- Dr Mike Holdsworth
I am Swedish, but even I think that THIS decision stinks. Someone is seriously brain damaged or works undercover for Wintel.
- Sebastian Reichardt
Astounding ! Apple is underestimating the depth of feeling for the British language at itsperil. I will not be buying OS 9 . Apple says it will promote faster software updates. That is a pathetic excuse. They just want to save a few beans and expect us all to swallow it. - Max Harper
What do you think? Are you in 'favor' of Apple's decision to scrap the British version of the Mac OS? Or does it send you a funny 'color'? Tell us what you think: [email protected]
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