Are Windows 2000 and Windows Me users up a creek? That's what this article over at The Register claims. By eliminating any way for a user to make an easily bootable floppy disk, people will have to track down a Windows 95, 98 or a DOS machine to simply make a disk containing the files necessary to boot their machine to update their BIOS. I'm going to have to keep an old machine around for just this purpose, or dual-boot my workstation. In the article, Intel claims that they can't include the DOS files with their BIOS updates without violating Microsoft's copyright. You'd think they could work something out, over something as stupid as the three files needed to boot the system. Everybody and their dog is covering the Human Genome Project announcement this morning. While this probably won't have a great impact for at least a decade, it's almost certainly the most significant scientific event of my lifetime. I can say that, as I was born after the Apollo 11 mission. Read more at: Slashdot, CNN, and Fox News.
I just read an interesting piece linked to from Slashdot. This article talks about some of the difficulties of building MacOS X on the BSD core, given the differences between UNIX security models and the security model of the Macintosh (there isn't one). A lot of users will probably be frustrated by having to log in as root to trash their file system, but I think it will certainly reduce support calls.
The move from Windows 9x to Windows NT/2000 produces a similar effect. Many users feel that the system administrators are taking something away from them by denying them the ability to modify critical system areas, they never want to believe that they would be the ones who'd mess with some setting they shouldn't and wind up trashing the operating system. I've adapted an informal policy in which I'll give a user local administrator privileges, but if they break something, the extent of support they'll get from me is a reformat of their machine and a reinstallation of the OS.
I really hope that MacOS X is a great success, but I know there will be a lot of difficulty for many of the advanced users in the changeover. A lot of them understand how the MacOS works now, they understand how to manipulate the arcane system extensions, they're used to having to disable some to resolve conflicts, they're used to being able to modify things in their preferences folder to fix a program that refuses to load. How will they adjust to the UNIX model? How will Mac application vendors adjust? I would think that supporting a *NIX over the phone would be a nightmare, as would finding someone willing to work for $6 an hour who actually understands how it works.
After all of the growing pains are over, I think that Mac users will be better off, and Apple stands to capture the attention of people wanting a more powerful system. I just think the next year is going to be rough.