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Apple banks on new Mac software

Company hopes powerful new system will save company

The Associated Press

CUPERTINO, Calif. ­ Apple Computer Inc. on Tuesday formally introduceda new version of the Macintosh operating system, hoping to retain the loyaltyof its customers as it tries to revive its fortunes.

The Mac OS goes on sale Saturday and will be included with Apple's newmachines. It runs on Macintosh computers with the PowerPC microprocessor,introduced in 1994, and on some older machines.

The new operating system costs $99, but users can get a $30 rebate.

Mac users and industry analysts said the software performs significantlybetter than the current version and includes several improvements they havelong wanted.

Mac OS 8, which controls the Mac's basic functions, is more stable andbetter equipped to handle multiple tasks at the same time than the currentone. It also makes it easier for Mac users to share data over the Internet.

Apple hopes the new operating system will prevent further erosions inits market share to personal computers using Microsoft Corp.'s Windows software.They also hope sales of the revised OS will help it return to profitability.

Despite the new program's advances, they won't be enough to win new users,Mac fans and industry analysts predicted. Although the Mac software remainsa bit easier to use than Windows, the new version doesn't jump ahead ofthe rival program.

It's evolutionary, not revolutionary, said George Graves,an independent technical writer in Mountain View, Calif. It'll makeMac users feel better about Apple.

Mac users, software developers and analysts said the important advanceswill come with a future-generation operating system Apple is currently developing.The software, known as Rhapsody, is due out next year, initially for high-endMac systems used largely by such professionals as graphic artists.

Meanwhile, analysts and Mac users said, Apple likely will see increasedsales from Mac OS 8 ­ provided the company promotes the program moreaggressively, convincing people that the company will endure.

Judi Sohn, a freelance graphic artist in Stamford, Conn., who'd soonergo back to pen and ink than use any version of Windows, said Appleneeds to counter fears about its future with upbeat advertising on televisionand general-interest magazines.

(Apple needs) ads that say, `We're here and we're not going anywhere.We're doing great and getting better every day,' she said.